New York law defines a private road as: “Every way or place in private ownership and used for vehicular travel by the owner and those having express or implied permission from the owner, but not by other persons.”
By comparison, a public highway is “any highway, road, street, avenue, alley, public place, public driveway or any other public way.”
One of the primary differences between a private road and public highway is the person or entity that is primarily responsible for maintaining it. If a dangerous condition on the roadway causes foreseeable injury to someone, that person will likely seek to identify any and all potentially liable parties. An experienced attorney can use available information to identify who owns the road. For example, a County Highway Map will typically identify what roads are owned and maintained by whom.