What if My Car Gets Hit on Private Property?

Question:  

I was in a parking lot and got into an accident.   The other party backed into my car.  I called the police, but they said they do not come out and make a report for accidents on private property.  I made a claim with the other driver’s insurance, but they denied me because the accident happened on private property.  What do I do now?

Answer:  

Just because an accident happens on private property doesn’t mean the other driver isn’t at fault.  Generally speaking, the police officers will  not come out and make a report on a parking lot accident.  This is because these accidents are usually very minor and do not involve personal injuries.  It has nothing to do with whether the accident happened on private property.  Likewise, if a pedestrian was struck by a vehicle in a parking lot and was seriously injured or killed, the police would certainly come out to the scene and make a report.

Unfortunately, many insurance companies use this as a reason to deny your claim.  They will say things like “The rules of the road do not apply in parking lots,” or “We are not liable because the accident happened on private property.”  This is not true.  The only issue in every accident is who was “negligent.”  Every driver has a legal duty to operate their vehicle in a safe manner regardless of whether they are in a parking lot or an interstate highway.

So, how do you handle an adjuster in this situation.  Without an attorney, there really isn’t much you can do.  The adjuster has decided to deny your claim and you probably cannot talk them out of it no matter how right you are.  Likewise, you have two options. First, file the claim on your own insurance.  Your insurance company will then seek recovery from the other driver’s insurance company.  If they are able to collect, then they will reimburse your deductible.

The second option would be to file a lawsuit against the other driver.  If your damages are less than $10,000, then you can file in small claims court.  Otherwise, you will need a lawyer to help you file in a court of higher jurisdiction.

Just remember that the main issue in every accident is “negligence,” and it doesn’t matter whether the accident was in a private parking lot or on a public roadway.

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