Car accidents are most commonly thought of as collisions between vehicles on a public roadway. However, accidents can also occur on private property such as parking garages or parking lots. These accidents frequently happen when drivers and pedestrians fail to pay attention to their surroundings. 

When an accident occurs on the road, the first thing to do is call law enforcement. They will take statements about the incident, exchange insurance information, and take photos of the scene. But what happens if the accident occurs on private property?

Report the Accident

Even though the incident happened on private property, you should still call the police. Police officers are not permitted to issue tickets or determine fault involving accidents on private property. This can make it more difficult to prove negligence, so be aware of this if you are involved in an accident. However, they can document the scene and provide a necessary police report - which you will likely need should you decide to file an insurance claim. 

Additionally, you should contact the property owner to alert them about the accident as soon as possible. If there are security personnel assigned to the area, contact them so they can create an incident report. Ask them to send you a duplicate for your records and to be shared with your insurance provider.

Determine Liability

Establishing fault for a parking lot accident is often challenging. Accidents involving cars on highways or city streets are considered public property and are governed by one set of laws. The laws governing private property are different, although they are very similar. Traffic laws for establishing fault on private property include:

  • Drivers pulling out of a parking space must yield to traffic in all directions.
  • Any occupant of a vehicle who opens their doors and hits another vehicle is liable for damages.
  • Drivers who collide with legally-parked vehicles are automatically at fault. But, if the stationary vehicle is illegally parked, the driver may be held liable.
  • Vehicles in a lane leading to a highway or another road have the right of way over those who park in rows.
  • All traffic signals and signs must be obeyed by drivers, whether on public roadways or on private property. 

When the accident occurs on private property, it can be blamed on both the parties, but also the property owner may share some responsibility. For example, poor visibility, lack of signage, narrow lanes around corners, and other factors on private property could all contribute to an accident. 

However, many property owners are quick to get involved in disputes between parties involved in an accident. This can sometimes be beneficial, especially if the property owner believes he is not responsible for the accident and is willing or able to assist with the investigation. This can include providing incident reports, security footage, or other details that can be used to help drivers and their insurance providers determine who was at fault for a car accident. Even though the property owner was not directly involved in the accident, they could be sued by a plaintiff's lawyer simply for owning the land.

Trust An Experienced Attorney

It can be challenging to determine who is responsible for an accident occurring on private property. However, protecting yourself is as simple as contacting an attorney skilled in understanding and identifying negligence in these circumstances. 

At Hudgins Law Firm, our sole responsibility is to YOU. We will fight for the compensation you deserve following an auto accident. We deal with insurance companies and take them to court if necessary. To set up a FREE consultation, call us toll-free at 800-950-5534, or complete the contact form on our website. We're the right team for you!