How to Handle a Car Accident on Private Property in Georgia or South Carolina
Table of Contents
- What Should You Do Immediately After an Accident on Private Property?
- Should You Call the Police?
- Who is Responsible for a Crash on Private Property?
- Causes of Car Accidents on Private Property
- How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help After an Accident on Private Property
- The Brown Firm: Protecting the Injured in Georgia and South Carolina
If an accident occurs on the road, most people have a general idea of what to do. You call the authorities, exchange information, take a few pictures, and get medical attention.
But if you’re involved in a car accident on private property—for example, a parking lot or private road—the standard rules and regulations that apply to other car accidents might not apply to your case.
In the article below, we will discuss the best way to handle a car accident on private property.
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What Should You Do Immediately After an Accident on Private Property?
There is a lot of conflicting advice about what to do after a car wreck on private property. While there are certain legal and procedural differences that can affect a potential personal injury case, for the most part you should follow the same basic initial steps that you would for any other type of car accident.
- Immediately after a wreck, assess the damage. If someone suffered serious injuries, you need to call 911 and get them medical attention right away. This should be your top priority.
- Contact the police. They should be able to give you an incident report, and if they can’t, try to get one from the property owner or someone who works at the property. (More on this in the next section.)
- Take pictures of the property damage and accident scene. These images might be important evidence later on.
- Swap insurance information with the other involved driver. If possible, get contact information and statements from witnesses too.
- See a doctor as soon as possible. What might seem like “minor bumps and bruises” might be early signs of a serious injury. If you have any symptoms whatsoever after the crash—even very minor ones, like mild stiffness or soreness, call your doctor.
Don’t Ignore Your Legal Rights After a Car Accident
While you might not immediately start thinking about a personal injury claim, the insurance company sees you as a case number from day one. As soon as it learns about your claim, insurance adjusters will start looking for ways to decrease your case’s settlement value (or make it go away completely).
When you take proactive steps, like calling the police, seeing a doctor, and taking pictures of the crash site, you’re creating evidence that can help you fight back.
For example, post-crash symptoms sometimes take days or even weeks to reach their peak. If you do not receive medical care soon after the crash, typically within a week, the insurer could argue that your injuries aren’t really that serious, and that your case isn’t worth much. Plus, the longer you wait to treat your injuries, the worse they will get.
You should also contact an attorney, even before you speak to your insurance company. Your insurance provider will try to pay you the smallest amount to limit their losses, so you need an experienced lawyer to make sure possible you get what you deserve.
Personal injury attorneys deal with insurance companies every day. They will make sure you avoid any situations that will get you less than what you deserve in your settlement.
Related Article: How Do You Prove Pain and Suffering After a Car Accident?
Should You Call the Police?
You should always call the police after an auto accident, no matter where it occurs. However, it’s important to understand that police officers may be more limited in terms of what they can or will provide for the involved parties when an accident takes place somewhere other than a public roadway.
When a wreck occurs on private property, the police don’t have jurisdiction to write a police report or issue tickets. After all, if you aren’t on a road, there are no “rules of the road” that can be enforced. Typically, the best they can do is write an incident report, but many times these are done by security guards or another employee of the establishment.
An incident report is a simplified version of a police report. Unlike a “full” police report, the incident report will typically not provide any conclusions about fault from the responding officer.
While this is less than ideal, it is still far better than nothing. The incident report will contain at least some information about the accident, the resulting damage, and any injuries that occurred. This is important and useful evidence, even if the report itself does not take an overall position on who was at fault.
Who Is Responsible for a Crash on Private Property?
Georgia and South Carolina’s car accident systems are fault-based. That means that you will typically file an insurance claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company. If you have uninsured/underinsured motorist or MedPay coverage, you might also file claims with your own insurance company. However, this might be just the beginning of your claims.
In accidents on private property, the owner of the property may be held responsible, as well as other involved parties. Let’s say you’re involved in a parking lot accident, and your accident is caused by a blind spot, narrow corner, or lack of necessary signage. If that’s the case, some of the liability for the accident could fall to the owner of the parking facility.
That’s why it is very common for property owners to get involved in disputes between the parties involved in the accident. This can be helpful, especially if the property owner feels like they could be held liable and is willing to help. They may be able to provide you with security footage, an incident report, and any other details that may prove to be helpful.
Sometimes, though, property owners can get defensive and refuse to assist in resolving the dispute because they’re afraid that they will have to contribute to the settlement.
Often, when a car wreck occurs in a parking lot, the responsible party leaves the scene. When this happens, the property owner may have some liability on a premises liability policy through insurance. So even though the property owner had very little to do with the accident, they could still end up liable for merely owning the property where the crash occurred.
Related Infographic: Steps to Determine Liability in a Parking Lot Accident
Causes of Car Accidents on Private Property
There are several ways a car accident can occur on private property. Some things that can cause a wreck on privately owned property are:
- Distracted driving. Distracted driving is the main factor in many kinds of car accidents. Whether you are adjusting the radio, eating, or looking at your cellphone, taking your attention away from your driving can easily cause a collision.
- Careless driving: Speeding across parking lots and failing to check your mirrors before backing out of a parking spot are among the most common ways that driving carelessly can lead to private property accidents.
- Impaired driving: This is the most easily avoidable type of crash, but still, many people drive under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, causing countless accidents.
- Unsafe surfaces: Potholes, puddles, ice, and other poorly maintained surfaces can lead to car accidents even on private property such as parking garages or private roadways.
- Lack of signage:In a parking lot, for example, there may not be any stop signs or right of way signs, leading to confusion and car accidents.
These are just a few ways a car accident can occur on private property. No matter where you’re driving, you should be alert and aware of your surroundings to avoid accidents.
How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help After an Accident on Private Property
Due to the lack of a police report and potentially difficult-to-resolve questions about how liability should be decided, private property accidents are often especially challenging to resolve. Without strong representation, you may have difficulty proving fault and getting the compensation you deserve from the insurance company.
An experienced attorney can take charge of investigating the accident, including examining the scene, following up with witnesses and property owners, and obtaining any security footage that might exist. (Since most property owners destroy video footage on a regular basis, you must act fast to avoid the permanent loss of critical evidence.)
Your lawyer can also help protect you from making costly mistakes, such as admitting fault or accepting a settlement offer that is far less than what your case is worth. Again, personal injury attorneys deal with insurance companies on a daily basis, and have extensive experience negotiating settlements for their clients. This translates to much higher compensation on average than those who try to handle their insurance claims process on their own.
The Brown Firm: Protecting the Injured in Georgia and South Carolina
An experienced personal injury attorney at The Brown Firm can help you prove negligence and get the settlement you deserve after an accident on private property. They will also negotiate with your insurance company to make sure you get every penny you deserve.
If you were recently in an accident on private property, reach out to The Brown Firm’s car accident lawyers today. Their lawyers will give you a free initial consultation and help you take the next steps.
To schedule your free consultation, complete the simple form below or call us at (912) 324-2498.
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