Recovering Compensation for Injuries Due to a Car Crash on Private Property

Posted on behalf of RizkLaw on Feb 28, 2020 in Auto Accident

winter car crash private propertyAuto accidents that happen on private property are different from those that happen on public roadways. Having a knowledgeable attorney to guide you through the complicated claims process can be very important.

At Rizk Law, we are available by chat or phone anytime, day or night. We offer a completely free initial consultation so one of our Portland car accident lawyers can review the circumstances of your accident. It is also an excellent opportunity to get answers to your legal questions and find out what you can expect from this type of car crash claim.

Who Is Liable?

In a public roadway accident, liability is often determined by the rules of the road that all drivers must follow. However, on private property, many of those rules may not apply. Additionally, if you have an accident on a public road, drivers are typically assigned liability, not the state. In contrast, on private property, both the property owner and the drivers could share liability.

To get compensation for the injuries you sustained on someone else’s property, you must be able to prove negligence. This can be difficult to do for many reasons.

If the owner was not involved in the accident and has video footage of the accident, he or she may cooperate because providing this evidence could help release him or her from any liability. On the other hand, a property owner may not cooperate if he or she may share liability, such as if an overgrown shrubbery may have blocked the driver’s view.

Do’s and Don’ts After Car Accidents on Private Property

It is important to document the scene immediately after an incident to help preserve as much evidence as possible.

Do Make These Calls

Call the police – This is always the essential first step, even when the accident occurs on private property. It may later be helpful if you file a claim because you have an official record of the accident. In some situations, police may not want to come to the scene if they do not have jurisdiction, but you can still make a report of the accident.

Notify the owner – You are required, under Oregon law, to notify the owner if you hit their vehicle while it is parked and unoccupied.

Contact the Department of Transportation (ODOT) – You must be notify ODOT if any of the following apply to your accident:

  • Vehicle damage of $2,500 or more occurs
  • A vehicle is damaged to the extent that it needs to be towed
  • Other property is damaged
  • Someone is injured or killed

Do Seek Medical Treatment

Even if you have no immediate pain or visible wounds, getting examined by a doctor after an accident helps to protect both your health and your claim. Many injuries, such as soft-tissue damage, do not appear for days or even weeks after an accident. Other injuries, including concussions and other brain injuries may not be uncovered without diagnostic testing.

Be sure to tell your health care provider that you were injured in an accident. This creates an official medical record of the event and links it to your injuries.

Do Gather Evidence

Gather evidence and document the scene immediately after the accident, if you can do so safely and your injuries do not prevent you from being able to move about. The following types of evidence may help to strengthen your claim, especially for an accident on someone else’s property:

  • Take pictures of vehicle damage, any visible wounds, skid marks, overgrown shrubbery that may have impacted your view, weather conditions and anything else that may be useful.
  • Exchange contact information with the other party and/or the property owner.
  • Speak to potential witnesses and get their contact information.
  • Document what you remember happening before the crash and your account of the accident.

Be Careful What You Say

Remember to avoid apologizing or admitting fault – let accident investigators do their job and determine liability based on the facts.

Do Not Agree to a Cash Settlement with the At-Fault Party

If the accident occurred on private property and you know the owner of the property, you may be hesitant to report the accident. However, accepting a cash settlement may leave you with out-of-pocket expenses if the offer does not cover all your medical bills or property damages. It is better to go through the official process of filing a claim.

Do Not Move the Vehicle

Unless your vehicle creates a safety hazard, do not move it. Keep it exactly where it was after the accident. Ask the other driver to do the same and wait for the police to arrive so they can record the exact location of the collision.

Can You Get Compensation for Your Injuries?

In Oregon, you are subjected to a comparative fault system, which means that you can pursue compensation for your damages if your liability is less than 51 percent. However, if you are assigned a portion of fault, such as 10 percent, any settlement awarded will be reduced by your percentage of liability. Using that example of 10 percent liability, if you are awarded $50,000 for your damages, you will receive $40,000, which is the settlement minus 10 percent.

How an Attorney Can Help

Our experienced lawyers are prepared to fully investigate and manage your claim. We can help to gather evidence to help us establish negligence occurred.

It takes time to build a strong argument after an accident on private property, so it is important that you contact a trusted attorney as soon as possible. At Rizk Law, we are committed to pursuing the maximum compensation for your damages.