Who Could Be Found Liable for a Car Accident on Private Property?

Posted in Car Accidents on January 31, 2018.

Alabama’s car accident laws apply a little differently when a collision happens on private property. The same roadway rules might not apply, and there could be premises liability laws involved in your claim as well. A negligent or reckless property owner, driver, or another person could still be liable for your damages despite the accident occurring on privately-owned land. Experienced accident and premises liability attorney, Mike Mitchell, explains what to know about liability after a crash on private property in Alabama.

Driver Liability

Alabama is an at-fault state when it comes to insurance coverage. Every driver must carry at least the minimum amounts of insurance coverage before taking to private or public roads. After a collision, it is the insurer of the at-fault driver that pays for all parties’ damages, within coverage limits. After a crash on private property, such as in a privately-owned parking lot, these rules generally still apply. If another driver caused your collision, you will call his or her insurance company to report the incident.

Collect the other driver’s information at the scene of the accident, as well as photographs of his/her vehicle and license plate. Once you seek medical attention for injuries, you can either file a claim with the other driver’s insurer or file a claim with your insurance company. Either insurance company will evaluate damages and likely offer you a settlement for your property damage and medical costs. Note that if your accident happened on private property, filing a claim against the at-fault driver might not be your only remedy. Other parties could share liability as well. Meet with our Birmingham car accident lawyers for more specific information.

Property Owner Liability

There are certain situations in which the owner of the private parking lot, driveway, road, or other property could be liable for car accidents that occur on location. Property owners have the responsibility to make their premises safe for drivers and visitors. This includes maintaining parking lots and other areas, repairing known hazards, and posting signs to help direct traffic and prevent accidents. Duties of a property owner could include:

  • Designing or constructing a safe place for drivers
  • Marking blind spots in the parking area
  • Erecting stop or yield signs to help prevent collisions
  • Clearly marking spots, routes, and curbs
  • Posting speed limit signs
  • Securing a parking lot from intruders/vandals
  • Installing security cameras or other safety measures

Any action that a “reasonable and prudent” parking lot owner would have taken to prevent accidents could be the owner’s duties of care to drivers. Failing to fulfill these duties, resulting in a collision, could come down to property owner liability. If a hazard of the private property contributed to your accident, ask the property owner to supply security camera footage or other evidence that could support your case.

Third-Party Liability in Car Accidents

Although most accidents on private property will come down to driver and/or property owner liability, there are additional parties that could be at fault or at least share fault for your collision. For example, a product manufacturer could be at fault for equipping your vehicle with malfunctioning brakes. Talk to an attorney in Alabama about liability and your right to file a claim after any type of crash on private property. These claims might not be as simple as those on public roads.