Who Is Responsible When An Accident Occurs on Private Property

Car accidents lead to lots of confusion, finger-pointing, and a lot of uncertainty about what to do next. Who is responsible when an accident happens on private property? Will the police still get involved? What if liability is unclear? What do you do then?

Getting into an accident on private property is a little different than getting into an accident on the road. Many of the same protocols and laws still apply, but some rules and regulations might not apply in a parking lot. Private property accidents are any accidents that don’t occur on a public road or government property.

Here are some of the most common cases we see on private property:

Accident When Backing Out of a Parking Space

Many accidents happen when someone is trying to back out of a parking space. Inevitably, someone is driving through a parking lot too fast, or the person backing out assumes the space is clear. If they are driving a small sedan and are sandwiched between two larger vehicles, they might not be able to see who is coming.

Unsafe Obstacles, Potholes, Signage

Occasionally, drivers hit a pothole or come across another object that damages their vehicle. This can cause an accident or even an injury in extreme cases. Many of the roads on private property don’t have appropriate signage, and this can cause people to be unsure about who has the right of way at an intersection.

Distracted Driving

Driving in a parking lot can give some drivers the false perception that it is safe to play with the radio, GPS, or your smartphone because you are moving at a slower rate of speed. This is where many people get into trouble and cause an automobile accident.

Determining Liability

In the state of Virginia, liability for damages in a car accident on private property will likely fall on the drivers. Unlike many other states, Virginia has the doctrine of contributory negligence. If a person is even 1% at fault for the damages to their vehicle, they may not be able to collect from another driver or the owner of the private property. The doctrine of contributory negligence certainly makes it tougher to collect damages from another party in Virginia than it does in most parts of the United States.

Do not claim responsibility for the accident right away even if you believe it might be your fault. Sometimes drivers think they did something wrong and are at fault when in fact it is the other driver’s fault.  In the heat of the moment, it is normal to make statements without really thinking about what you are saying. Take a deep breath, ensure you are not injured and try to keep your composure in a stressful moment. Then talk to a lawyer who can help determine who is at fault.

Contact the Police

After an accident on private property, the police should be called. Unfortunately, they normally will not complete an official police report since they do not have jurisdiction on private property, but they may file an incident report. You cannot get a ticket for a parking lot accident, but the incident report might still help you prove your case if the other party caused your damages.

See A Physician As Soon As Possible

Whenever someone is involved in an accident it is a good idea to get checked out by a doctor.

If you don’t get medical attention as quickly as possible after an accident with injuries, the insurance company could question the seriousness of your injuries. The medical documentation from the doctor’s office along with the incident report helps connect your injuries to the accident.

Take Photos

Don’t forget to take photos of the accident, especially if there is a dispute about liability in the accident. Parking lots do not always have the best signage or line markings, and this can make it difficult to describe the scene to an insurance adjuster or attorney.

Take images of the damage to your car and the other car. If possible, take photos of the actual accident before you move your vehicles. This will keep the other driver from trying to claim damage on their vehicle that wasn’t there at the time of the incident.

Contact Epperly & Follis for Representation In Your Private Property Accident

If you were in an accident on private property, reach out to the car accident attorneys at Epperly & Follis P.C. You can contact us at 804-648-6480 or complete our contact form to schedule your initial consultation today. We will investigate all of the facts of your case and help you get the best results possible.

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