When a crash happens on private property, it can be challenging to determine who is liable for damages. There are often different rules that apply to crashes on private property compared to public property. Fortunately, you may still be eligible to pursue compensation for any losses you have endured.
Below, our Oshkosh car accident lawyers discuss several factors to consider if you have been involved in a car accident on private property and how to establish liability to help you file a successful claim and recover damages. Our initial consultations are free and confidential. There is no risk in calling our firm.
Immediately Following the Crash
After a crash on private property, the law requires that you remain at the scene of the accident and be available to the police investigating the incident. However, if the car accident is minor with no serious injuries, the police may not respond to the scene, particularly when it occurs on private property.
It is still in your best interest to request that a police report be filed. Insurance companies will do anything possible to devalue or deny a claim if there is no official record of the crash. You will likely receive a low-ball settlement offer that does not accurately reflect the value of your claim.
Other recommended steps to take include:
- Seek medical attention – Get checked out by a doctor to make sure that you receive adequate treatment. This would also create a medical record linking your injuries to the accident.
- Exchange information – Obtain personal and insurance information from the other driver and property owner and contact details from anyone who may have witnessed the crash.
- Document the accident scene – If you are capable, use your cellphone and take pictures of the accident scene, vehicle or property damage, any signage on the site and your injuries.
- Do not agree to anything – The insurance company may ask you for a recorded statement or try to have you accept an initial settlement offer. It is important to wait until you have consulted with a lawyer. Unlike the insurance company, he or she will have your bests interests in mind.
Establishing Liability on Private Property
Accidents that occur on private property differ than those that happen on public roads in that the owner of the property may share some liability in addition to the other driver involved.
There are certain elements that need to be established to prove that the property owner and/or the other driver owed you a duty of care and breached this duty. His or her negligence must have caused the car accident that directly led to you being injured and suffering damages.
However, being able to show that he or she violated the law or acted carelessly is more difficult on private property. You would still need to prove negligence, but the same rules of the road may not apply on private property.
Chapter 346 of the Wisconsin Statutes states that all drivers on public roads have a duty to maintain control of their vehicles and be on the lookout for other drivers and hazards. Those same duties are not specified for drivers on private roads, unless the driver knew or should have known that there is another car or person in the area. That is why establishing liability on private property can be challenging.
The property owner may have security footage that can help determine who is at fault in a car accident. As a result, he or she may feel obligated to provide any evidence. In other situations, the property owner may not comply at all and will try to challenge your right to pursue a claim for compensation.
Regardless of whether the property owner is cooperative, there are other ways to help establish liability. For instance, lack of road signs and blind spots on the property could be the result of negligence on the part of the owner. He or she should have been aware of these hazards and addressed them.
Accidents that occur on private property often result in drivers refusing to acknowledge fault when they were speeding, driving while distracted, or failed to yield.
Having an experienced lawyer by your side can be beneficial in these situations. He or she would conduct a detailed investigation and consider all contributing factors to determine whether the property owner and/or the other driver share liability in causing the accident and your injuries.
Can I Recover Damages?
Wisconsin follows a modified comparative negligence rule that prevents accident victims from recovering compensation for any damages sustained if they were equally or more to blame for the crash. However, if your share of liability is not greater that the other person’s negligence, you may still be able to obtain a recovery, but your award would be reduced by your percentage of liability.
For instance, if you sustained $50,000 in damages and you are 20 percent at fault, your award will be reduced by $10,000. If more than one person is to blame, each would share a percentage of liability.
We Fight for Maximum Compensation. Call to Learn More.
If you have been injured in a crash on private property, we recommend reaching out to our legal team at Sigman Janssen. We are prepared to protect your rights and help maximize compensation for your damages, if we validate your claim. Our firm has successfully recovered millions in compensation on behalf of our clients.
We charge no upfront fees for our services and provide a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss the legal options that may be available to you.
Call (877) 888-5201 for a free case review today.