Depending on how the car sustained damage, the property owner or another driver may be liable for a car damaged on private property. Accidents happen frequently in parking garages, parking lots, and other types of private property. Although many of these accidents occur at slow speeds, they can still cause significant damage to cars and personal injuries.
In many ways, seeking compensation for a car damaged on private property is similar to seeking compensation for a car damaged in a public space. A lawyer with experience handling premises liability and personal injury cases may be able to help you determine who is liable if you sustained property damage to your car on private property.
How to Determine Liability for a Car Damaged on Private Property
To demonstrate liability in a property damage or personal injury case, you must show that one or more parties caused the accident by acting negligently. The responsible party might be another driver, the owner of the property where the accident took place, or both. You must show that your case contains these four elements:
- Duty of care: The other party had an obligation to avoid putting you and your car at risk. Property owners must maintain their property, inspect it regularly, and resolve hazards or warn people about them. Other drivers have an obligation to drive such that other cars are not at risk of harm.
- Breach of duty: The other party ignored that obligation and acted irresponsibly, putting you at risk.
- Causation: The other party’s irresponsible behavior caused the accident that damaged your car.
- Damages: You sustained losses, including the damage to your car and any property inside it, as well as any personal injuries you suffered, that can be compensated financially.
A lawyer can investigate how your car sustained damage on private property, looking for evidence of negligence by the property owner, another driver, or both. You may be able to seek damages from one or both parties.
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What Types of Negligence Cause Car Damage on Private Property?
There are many ways that property owners and other drivers can cause damage to cars on private property. Here are some examples of negligence by property owners:
- Poorly maintained roads, driveways, parking lots, and garages: Crumbling pavement, potholes, and untreated snow and ice can lead to accidents that damage your car.
- Poorly designed parking garages and lots: Parking areas should be well-lit, clearly marked, and have enough space for vehicles to maneuver safely.
- Failure to enforce rules: Owners can post speed limits and directional arrows on their property, but these postings are meaningless when unenforced.
Here are some examples of negligence by drivers on private property:
- Failure to look for other cars before backing up: Drivers must use their mirrors and cameras to look for stationary or moving vehicles while they back up.
- Failure to look for other cars when parking: Drivers must be careful not to sideswipe or collide with other vehicles when they park.
- Driving too fast in a parking lot or garage: Even when there are no posted speed limits, drivers must drive at a safe speed based on their surroundings.
- Ignoring traffic signs and markings: Drivers must stay within marked lanes, park within designated spaces, observe posted speed limits, and follow anyone directing traffic.
You May Be on Private Property More Often Than You Realize
People drive and park their cars on private property all the time, often without thinking about it. While we take public roads to get to shops, sports arenas, movie theaters, and more, once we get there, we are on private property. Parking lots and garages are often cramped, and drivers there may be busy or distracted, leading to car accidents.
Driveways are also located on private property, as are some roads. Many roads, typically found in residential areas, have “Private Road” signs marking them as private property. Many homeowners’ associations own the roads in a neighborhood, even though they may not be marked as private and seem like public roads.
Here are some common types of accidents that can damage cars on private property:
- One car strikes another parked car on a private road or in a private parking lot or garage.
- Two cars backing up at the same time hit each other in a parking lot or garage.
- One car in a crowded parking lot or garage rear-ends another car.
- Two cars on a street in a neighborhood managed by a homeowners’ association collide head-on.
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Potential Compensation Available for a Car Damaged on Private Property
If your losses are limited to the property damage to your car, you should be able to recover the expense of repairing it or replacing the vehicle if necessary. You may also be able to recover the expense of property damaged inside the car, such as a child’s car seat or upgrades like an added sound system.
If the incident that damaged your car injured you or your passengers, you may be able to recover losses for personal injury as well. These losses may include your medical expenses, unpaid time off at work, and your pain and suffering. A lawyer can help you estimate the total value of your losses.
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Legal Deadlines for a Car Damaged on Private Property
Deadlines vary from state to state, but every state has laws limiting how much time you have to file a lawsuit over the damage to your car. A lawyer familiar with your local laws can help you determine how long you have to sue the responsible party.
Each state also limits how much time you have to file a lawsuit for personal injuries if you were hurt in the same incident that damaged your car. Many states give you anywhere between one to three years from the date of the accident to sue the responsible party. Under O.C.G.A § 9-3-33, for example, accident victims generally have two years.
Kaine Law Is Ready to Help If Your Car Was Damaged on Private Property
The team at Kaine Law is ready to help you recover the financial compensation you deserve if your car sustained damage on private property. Our team has multiple decades of experience determining liability in cases like yours. We can assist you in figuring out who is liable for your car damage on private property and in seeking damages from the responsible party. Contact Kaine Law today so we can get started on your case.