If you are involved in an automobile accident on a public roadway, it is important a police report is filed. This will document the facts involved in the case. In fact, if there are injuries involved, most state laws require the incident to be reported. However, what if the accident takes place on private property? What are your obligations and those of the police?
It may be surprising to know that if you are involved in an accident on private property, the police have no obligation to come out and make a report. In fact, in some jurisdictions where local police are extremely busy, it is their policy not to investigate private property accidents. That may change if the incident causes blockage or other traffic issues or if someone is injured, but they are under no obligation to do so. That being said, you should still attempt to contact the police when involved in an accident on private property.
Should the police decline to come out, there are still several things you should do, starting with exchanging information with others involved in the accident. It can also be helpful to take photos and get the names of anyone who may have witnessed the accident. It may even be possible to get a video of the accident if it occurred in a store parking lot. The store manager should be contacted with this request.
You should then contact your insurance company to make them aware of the accident and to find out what your next steps should be. If you have comprehensive collision coverage, your insurance will likely take the lead in paying the claim on your car. They may then decide to seek compensation from the other party if they feel there is sufficient evidence that the other driver was at fault. In any case, minus your deductible, your coverage should pay for any damage done to your vehicle on private property if you have damage liability coverage for your car.
While the police may view accidents on private property differently from those that occur on public roadways, insurance companies essentially treat these incidents the same.
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