Cattle roaming on roadways has long been an issue, but now some lawmakers are taking action against producers, saying that they are liable.

Nebraska and New York both have laws that make cattle owners liable for damages, both property and personal injury, in accidents caused by cattle being on the road.

In Nebraska, people who are involved in motor vehicle accidents caused by livestock may seek damages for personal injury and property losses caused by the accident. The state’s current law places liability on cattle producers if cattle get out on public roadways, but the burden of proof in the case rests on the plaintiff. The plaintiff has to prove the owner of the cattle is responsible for allowing their cattle on the road or that the owner is negligent, reported Allan Vyhnalek, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Educator.

The fact that the cows were on the road, isn’t proof in and of itself, however.

Producers might be found negligent if fences were not being maintained, a gate was left open or a prior history had been established about the cows escaping and getting on roadways and nothing was done about it, Vyhnalek reported.

Aside from being encouraged to maintain fences, producers are also encouraged to have a general farm liability insurance policy, which could protect them against lawsuits resulting from accidents involving their cattle, Vyhnalek reported.

In the Town of Hanover, N.Y., passed a law late last month that bans livestock from being on the roads. That law also extends to trespassing issues when livestock wander onto neighboring farms and damage crops. The law came after several complaints were filed to the local sheriff’s office about cows being found on roads, Susan Chiappone reported for The Buffalo News.

Read also, "Mend fences or else: Wandering cows’ owners can be sued."