Were you involved in a car accident while on private property? One of the most important facets of getting the compensation you deserve and need after an auto accident is determining who is at fault. And while this may be easy in certain accident scenarios, it can be complicated in others. One such situation could be when the incident was on private, not public, property.
So, who might be legally held responsible for your accident? Here are three of the most common persons.
The Other Driver
The first place to look for someone at fault is, obviously, the other driver. Being on private property, such as at a shopping mall parking lot or on a private country road, doesn't absolve each driver from their burden of responsibility toward the laws and other people. Normal and routine driving laws remain in place on private property, including obeying approved signs and yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks.
What if the driver wasn't actually violating any posted laws? In this case, the responsibility could stem from a basic legal principle of driving: duty of care. Each person has a duty of care to act in the manner that a reasonable person in the same situation would act. Speeding through a parking lot in icy conditions, for instance, may violate this regardless of whether or not a sign is posted.
The Property Owner
An accident on private land has one other party that may be at fault: the property owner. The owner has a duty of care toward others as well, and that includes maintaining the property in good condition and removing hazards. So, if the accident occurred because the parking lot was not cleared of snow, the owner might be responsible for some damages.
To determine liability involving the property, you would want to be aware of what is going on around the accident. This might include poor signage, road hazards, dangerous traffic or pedestrian routing, construction work, or ill-conceived permanent features.
Were there any other persons or drivers involved in the incident? Parking lots are notoriously crowded with pedestrians, bicyclists, vendors, and cars. Any of these could have some responsibility for what happened. How so?
Consider the case of a bicyclist that weaves recklessly through cars. If their movements cause an accident between two of those cars, they could be at fault. A retail tenant also might have liability if their signage block drivers' or pedestrians' views, for instance, or if goods for sale on the sidewalk roll into a driver's path.
An accident on private land can be more complicated than one that occurred on the main road. With so many factors at work, any victim of such an accident needs to investigate all the possible areas of liability quickly and thoroughly. That's why you need a qualified car accident lawyers on your side. Consult with one in your area today.