Understanding Car Accidents on Private Property

Understanding Car Accidents on Private Property

Car accidents can definitely happen anywhere and at any time. You might hit another vehicle or a person on a dark and stormy night, or it could happen in broad daylight with excellent visibility. Maybe you cause an accident because you’re not paying attention, or perhaps some other driver causes one.

Either way, if you’re on a public road, that simplifies matters somewhat. You’ll have plenty to do, like exchanging insurance information, determining whether you’ve injured yourself or not, and calling the police to come and make out an accident report.

What about if the accident occurs on private property, though? That’s what we’ll discuss in this article. This scenario is far from impossible, and it helps to know what to do if it happens.

What Exactly is Private Property?

Because we get into what happens when you cause an accident on private property, we should clarify what that term means. Many people use it, but not all of them use it correctly.

Private property would be something like your driveway or your front or backyard. A garage would be private property, and a parking lot would be as well.

This stands as a direct contrast to public property, which would be a road on which cars can drive. That road could be in the city or country. The point is that vehicles can freely drive on it and no one owns that road other than the town or city in which you find it.

What Causes Private Property Car Wrecks?

The next thing worth talking about is what usually happens to cause car wrecks on private property. Consuming drugs or drinking alcohol and then driving can often cause these accidents. You might also have a person trying to back out of their driveway, and they hit another vehicle on the way out.

If you are in a parking lot, you may hit another car while backing out, or you might go around a blind corner in a parking garage and hit someone before you realize what’s happening.

You might also have a single-car accident on a private road if you’re talking to someone in the vehicle, and that distracts you. You may let your smartphone or the car’s navigation command your attention, and you might hit something that way.

Public vs. Private Property Wrecks

In some ways, causing a wreck on a private road or in a garage can be similar to causing a car accident on a public roadway. You still have to contact the police and have them compile a report, especially if you hit another car or person in a garage or something similar.

The time when you would not necessarily have to call the police is if you hit something in your driveway when you’re backing out, and what you hit is also your property. For instance, if you back up and hit your driveway’s side, scraping the vehicle, you haven’t damaged public property, and the accident involves only you. You’ll have to contact your insurance company, but not necessarily the police.

Private Property Owner Liability

Introducing owner liability issues is where things can get a little tricky. Let’s say you have a condition on your private property that causes an accident. For instance, someone comes to visit you, and when they’re leaving, they run into something you left in the driveway.

In that scenario, they could potentially sue you if they sustain injuries. You might have legal liability if you should have known about the object sitting in your driveway, and you ought to have moved it out of the way.

On the other hand, if you didn’t know the object was there, you can fight the lawsuit in court. You’ll just need to have a competent lawyer who can demonstrate that you didn’t put the object there and had no knowledge that it was blocking your visitor’s vehicle.

Other Property Owner Liability Concerns

You might have a situation where there are some poor parking lot or parking garage conditions, and they cause you to wreck your car or injure yourself. If that happens, you can sue the parking lot or parking garage’s owner or operator. If an attorney can demonstrate that the owner should have known about the conditions, but they ignored them, that can mean a payday for you.

You might hit a huge pothole on a public street, and then you may sue the city for vehicle repair or medical bills. However, that sort of case is not a slam dunk by any means.

The city or township might say you were speeding when the accident happened. If so, they will claim no legal responsibility, and you might walk away with nothing.

In short, many factors can go into whether you’ll have to pay any money or whether an entity or individual will have to pay you if a private property car wreck occurs. No two of these instances are alike, and circumstances can change very quickly.

You might feel like your private property is safe, and no one will be in any danger backing out of your driveway, for instance. Maybe a fallen tree branch is there now, though, and you don’t know about it. That’s a situation where you could face a lawsuit, but the court system may determine you’re not legally liable.

There are two things to remember when talking about private property lawsuits. The first is to try and maintain your property and its upkeep, so no one has a car accident there.

The second is to remember to watch out and drive very carefully on public roads, in parking lots, in parking garages, and so forth. Just because you’re on private property, that does not mean a car accident is impossible.

If someone is suing you or you have to sue someone following a private property car accident, make sure to hire a lawyer who has dealt with these sorts of cases before. They will give you your best success chance.



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