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Car Accident on Private Property

Many car accidents happen on public roads. But what happens if the car accident happens on private property, such as someone’s driveway or a business parking lot? Does this make a difference as to who you sue?

Actually, it can. However, you still need to analyze the car accident the same way you analyze any other car accident. First, you need to identify who is at fault, which means finding out what caused the car accident. Then you need to work at obtaining evidence.

Causes of Car Accidents on Private Property

Many different things can contribute to a car accident on private property, such as:

  • Distracted driving: someone might be looking at a cell phone when the vehicle is moving, leading to a collision.
  • Careless driving: a motorist might fail to look in their rearview mirror when backing up and end up striking someone.
  • Impaired driving: a motorist who is intoxicated or high could misjudge distances and slam into a vehicle or pedestrian.
  • Failure to yield: a driver might refuse to let another vehicle pass in a parking lot, instead pulling out in front of them or driving straight into the other car.
  • Tailgating: a vehicle might be following too closely so it cannot stop when the driver in the lead car hits the brakes.
  • Dangerous surface: a parking lot or driveway might have a gigantic pot hole that causes a driver to lose control of the vehicle.
  • Inadequate signage: a parking lot, for example, might not have stop signs, letting people know who has the right of way. Accidents can occur when there are missing lights or lane markings.

There are other causes, but the ones listed above are the primary causes of car accidents on private property.

Negligence and Car Accidents

Under Nevada law, all car accidents are analyzed under negligence. This legal principle requires that we determine whether any driver was insufficiently careful and caused the accident. For example, someone who tailgates is not driving their vehicle as an ordinarily careful person would, so they are negligent if they rear-end a vehicle in front of them.

Sometimes, the property owner could be negligent. If the owner does not maintain the property or does not install adequate signs, then they might have contributed to the accident. This is different from an accident out on a public road.

You can sue anyone whose negligence was a factor in your crash. This includes property owners, motorists, pedestrians, and others. Your lawyer will check to see if they were negligent and therefore legally responsible.

Problems that Arise with Car Accidents on Private Property

We hear from many people who report car accidents to an insurance company only to be told that they can’t be helped. “Oh, the rules of the road don’t apply in parking lots” or “we don’t cover accidents on private property” are only some of the excuses that insurers give injured victims. Some insurers will also complain if you didn’t get a police report—but when you called the police, they said they don’t come out for parking lot accidents!

In reality, none of that is true. A car driver remains legally responsible so long as they were negligent. It doesn’t matter where the accident occurred. And police should come out to the accident scene if someone has suffered serious injuries. A scratch on the bumper? No. But police should write up a police report when a motorist or pedestrian has been badly hurt.

So what can you do? Unfortunately, not much on your own. You probably can’t convince a high-powered insurance company to cover your accident if they don’t want to. Once they decide they aren’t paying a claim, that is the end of the matter in their eyes.

But the law is on your side. You don’t have to take “no” for an answer—not from an insurance company that is contractually obligated to pay compensation when its insured negligently causes accidents. Instead, you can file a lawsuit in court. The insurer will then be forced to defend the suit and might be motivated to re-open settlement talks.

To file a lawsuit, remember to hire an experienced Las Vegas car accident attorney. These cases are too complex for most people to bring, and you could make errors that hamstring your case.