Last Updated on November 11, 2020 by Theodore Spaulding
If you are injured in a vehicle accident that happens on private property in Georgia – as opposed to an accident on a public street or a highway – will your personal injury claim be different (or handled differently) than a claim for an accident that happens on the street? Can a car accident law firm in Atlanta help?
These accidents happen all the time, especially in parking lots at commercial locations like malls and shopping centers, restaurants, hotels, and other private properties. Some of these parking lot accidents result in nothing more than minor vehicle damage, but others result in serious injuries.
How Do You Handle an Accident That Occurs on Private Property?
It needs to be fully understood by every Georgia motorist that when a traffic crash happens on private property, there really is not a huge difference in terms of the steps that the drivers need to take. Treat it just like any other vehicle accident.
Of course, if you’re injured or if anyone else is injured in any traffic collision, summon medical help at once. That’s always the first priority.
Then summon the police. If you’ve been injured, what you want is for the police to investigate the accident, get a statement from the other driver, and determine who was at fault for the accident.
How Do the Police Handle Accidents on Private Property?
However, in an accident that happens on private property in Georgia, the police usually do not issue tickets or offer conclusions regarding which driver caused the accident. That’s because, by definition, nothing that happens on private property violates the “rules of the road.”
Still, the information gathered by a police investigation will be important evidence if you’ve been injured, if the other driver was at fault, and if you need to take legal action to recover your expenses and damages.
Be sure that you call the police. Do not let anyone persuade you that it “won’t help” because the accident happened on private property.
What Are Your Rights if a Negligent Driver Injures You?
The injured victim of someone else’s negligence in this state is entitled by law to compensation; it does not matter where the negligence and the injury happened.
You’ll need the help of an experienced, reliable Georgia injury attorney to prove that you were injured by someone else’s negligence and that you are entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, personal pain and suffering, and for all of your related losses and damages.
What Kinds of Traffic Accidents Happen on Private Property?
Perhaps the most frequent type of private property vehicle accident is the “backing-out” accident. That’s when a driver is moving in reverse impacts with a vehicle to the rear which may be either parked or moving.
The motorist who was driving in reverse is usually held at fault for accidents unless both drivers were backing out at the same time and fault is shared. And when a motorist crashes into a vehicle that is legally parked, the crash will almost always be considered that motorist’s fault.
Drivers also have to be alert in parking lots for pedestrians, who may walk out unexpectedly from between vehicles. It’s best to reduce your speed in a parking garage or parking lot to fifteen miles per hour or less.
Can You Reduce the Chance of a Parking Lot Accident?
Atlanta is the setting for plenty of huge parking lots with plenty of pedestrians and vehicles constantly moving in all directions. Always move carefully in a parking lot, and if you drive in the vehicle in reverse, drive at a snail’s pace, and do not presume that others see you.
Always look out for other vehicles that may be backing out of parking spots. Remember that other drivers may have “blind spots” where they cannot see you.
Responsible, cautious driving on private property is not that different from responsible, cautious driving on Georgia’s streets and highways. Keep a safe speed, focus on what’s in front of you, but use your mirrors frequently too, and don’t drive aggressively.
Why is There Video of Most Accidents on Private Property?
It is also more likely that there will be a video record of an accident if it happens on private property. Especially in the last two decades, to protect themselves from liability lawsuits, almost all commercial property owners have installed security cameras to monitor their parking areas.
Still, if an accident happens and you’re injured, take plenty of your own photos of the damages to the vehicles, your own injuries to the extent that they’re visible, and the overall accident scene. Photos can be persuasive evidence in these cases.
Similarly, if there were eyewitnesses to the accident, try to get their contact information. Later, your attorney may want their statements or testimony – which may also be persuasive evidence.
How Can Car Crash Lawyers Help You?
Requesting video evidence, however, is only one of several reasons why you’ll need the help of a skilled Atlanta personal injury attorney – as quickly as possible – if you’ve been injured on private property and another driver was at fault. You’ll need an attorney right away because:
Many businesses routinely destroy security video every thirty days, so it’s imperative to make a formal request immediately if you believe that a business may have video evidence of a vehicle collision.
You’ll be contacted by the other driver’s auto insurance company, and you’ll need to refer the company to your lawyer. Answer no questions, make no statements, and sign no documents for the insurance company. Let your attorney do the talking and negotiating.
Likewise, don’t accept a settlement offer without consulting an experienced Atlanta personal injury attorney first. A good injury attorney can almost certainly negotiate a better settlement on your behalf.
When Should You Speak to an Auto Accident Law Firm?
While only a brief discussion of accidents on private property and liability is possible here, if you are injured on private property in a vehicle collision in Georgia, you’ll need candid and trustworthy legal advice regarding your rights and options, and you’ll need that advice at once.
Your first consultation with an accident attorney is free, with no obligation. If you and your attorney agree to take legal action, you’ll pay no attorney’s fee until you receive the compensation – and the justice – that you deserve.
A good accident attorney’s help is your right, but you must take the first step, exercise that right, and make the call – immediately after you’ve been injured. Your future could depend on it.
For close to 15 years, Mr. Spaulding has helped victims of negligence across the state of Georgia resolve personal injury disputes, and he’s received a remarkable number of awards and honors from the legal community recognizing his commitment to clients and to the metro-Atlanta area.
As an undergraduate, Mr. Spaulding belonged to the Phi Beta Kappa honors fraternity at the University of Georgia, and he obtained his legal training at the Georgia State College of Law, where he clerked for the Honorable Judge Rowland Barnes of the Fulton County Superior Court. Mr. Spaulding has also worked for the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Atlanta Enforcement Division. Since 2005, he has dedicated his career to helping the injured victims of negligence and their loved ones win justice in Georgia’s personal injury courts.