Some key differences between private and public property when it comes to car accidents include:
It Is Difficult but Not Impossible to Determine Liability
To receive compensation for your injuries, you must identify the responsible party. However, the burden of proof is usually heavier when you get injured in a car accident on private property.
Take, for example, an accident that involves two drivers on a narrow road. In such an accident, establishing the party at fault may be difficult but not impossible. Either driver could be at fault for various reasons. For example, if Driver A was speeding and failed to navigate a quick turn, crashing into Driver B, the former might be held responsible.
But what if the whole accident could have been avoided had the property owner put up clear signs warning the drivers of the narrow road ahead? Or, what if the property owner knew or should have known that the narrow road needed expansion, but they did not do that?
These are just examples of different scenarios that could make it difficult to determine liability.
Suppose the same accident occurred on a public road. In that case, most states are usually immune from such lawsuits. In addition, states that allow such claims require the injured to file within a very short period of time.
Police Officers Cannot Write Accident Reports
You probably know the importance of involving a police officer if injured in a car accident. Under normal circumstances, the officer writes a report detailing the events that led to the accident and who they believe is at fault. This report also contains crucial information, such as the name and contacts of those involved, including any witnesses.
But when you are involved in a car accident and decide to call the police, they might not be able to write an accident report. This is because they may not have the jurisdiction to write such reports on accidents that occur on private property.
However, that also does not mean that the officer cannot help. Although they might not be able to write an accident report, which is usually more detailed, the responding officer can write an incident report. The report summarizes everything that happened and the reason the officers arrived at the accident scene.
You can then use this report to prove your case against the other party if they caused the accident.
Private Property Usually Have Different Rules
The rules that apply to public property, such as state roads, are different from those that apply to private property. Take, for example, engineering standards when constructing public facilities such as roads, parks, parking lots, etc. These projects must meet certain strict construction and engineering criteria as the state requires.
On the other hand, private properties do not have to abide by these rules. For example, many car accidents on private property usually occur at parking garages. This is because some of these garages are poorly designed. Some have unreasonably small parking spots to save space and accommodate as many vehicles as possible.
A good example is a parking garage business. The more parking spots available, the more money the business owner makes a day. For this reason, some of these parking garages might have unreasonably small parking spots and other poor designs you would not encounter in state facilities. But private properties cannot get in trouble with the state for that because whatever they do with their personal property is their own business.