Car accidents on private property are handled mostly the same way as if the accident was on a public roadway. However, there are some issues regarding liability and damages. For example, car accident victims usually cannot sue state or municipal authorities for their injuries even if the road was poorly maintained. However, on a private road, the managing entity could be partially or even fully liable.

Causes of Car Accidents on Private Property

The causes of car accidents on private roads are the same as on public roads: driver error, poor road conditions, and poor road maintenance and design. For example, many accidents are caused by driver inattention, such as texting and driving, driving under the influence, or driver behavior such as tailgating or aggressive driving. Inclement weather is also a common cause of car accidents, such as rain, fog, snow, sleet, and their attendant effect on the road, such as black ice.

What to Do After an Accident

The first step after an accident on private property is checking everyone involved for severe injuries and calling for medical assistance if necessary. Even if no one appears to have been seriously injured, victims should be checked out by medical professionals. 

Police sometimes don’t have the jurisdiction to provide a police report if the accident is on private property, but they can provide an incident report. Incident reports are slimmed-down versions of police reports. Private security or on-site personnel may be able to provide an incident report as well.

Unique Issues with Private Property

Municipal and state governments are usually immune from liability on public roadways, even if poorly maintained roads partially caused the accident. However, on private roads, the owner or manager of the private roadway may be partially liable for the accident. The private owner may be liable for poor maintenance and/or poor design. For example:

  • An accident is caused due to poorly maintained road damage to a car’s tire, causing it to lose control and hit another vehicle.
  • An accident is caused due to a blind spot or narrow corner.
  • An accident occurs on a parking lot, but the other driver leaves the scene; the property owner could be liable through a general commercial liability policy.