What is Different if My Louisiana Auto Accident Happens on Private Land?

January 7, 2022 Accident

What if My Louisiana Auto Accident Happens on Private Land?

It is not common, but automobile and vehicle accidents DO occur on private land. Examples might include a Louisiana automobile accident that occurs on a private road, a long driveway, in a privately-owned parking lot or parking garage or a crash involving an all-terrain vehicle on Louisiana hunting land. If an automobile or other vehicle accident occurs here in Louisiana on private property, the practical steps are basically the same, but the legal analysis of liability can be slightly different. In brief, persons injured and those suffering property damage caused by the negligence of another are entitled to make insurance claims and, if needed, initiate personal injury litigation in Louisiana courts. The same is true if the accident results in a fatality. Here is some of what you should know.

What Should You Do After An Auto Accident on Private Property?

In most respects, after an auto accident on private property, the parties involved should do the same things that they would do if the accident occurred on the public roads. That is:

  • Get everyone to safety (where dangers remain)
  • Check for injuries, call an ambulance (if necessary) and get medical attention for anyone injured
  • Call local law enforcement — a police report is still needed for insurance claims and for the other reasons a police report is needed for a public road auto accident
  • Exchange contact and insurance information — same as the parties would do for a public road accident
  • Collect evidence (if the parties are able) like photos of the vehicles, location of the vehicles, of injuries, etc.
  • Call towing services (if the vehicles are non-operational)
  • Determine who owns the private property (if possible and not already known) and
  • Eventually, contact experienced Louisiana personal injury lawyers to prepare your insurance claims and to begin preparing for a potential personal injury lawsuit

Legal Liability

The Louisiana negligence laws apply with equal force to automobile accidents that occur on private land. To be entitled to recover compensation, the injury or property damage must have been caused by the negligence of another. To prove negligence, four legal elements must be proven by victims: duty, breach of duty, causation and injury/damage. The legal element of duty may be different with automobile accidents that occur on private land. This is because traffic and road laws may not apply on private property. In general, drivers have a duty to obey Louisiana traffic laws and drivers will breach their duty if they violate traffic laws. Thus, with public road accidents, a driver who violates a traffic law — like not stopping at a traffic control device — will likely be deemed liable for breach of duty and, therefore liable for resulting injuries and damage. This is not necessarily true for accidents that occur on private land.

All drivers and vehicle operators still owe many duties that are not based on the traffic laws. For example, every driver owes a general “duty of care” which involves the duty to be watchful, to drive safely under the weather and terrain conditions and more. Thus, while there may or may not be a speed limit for a private road, if a driver drives too fast for the road and weather conditions, that might be a breach of his or her duty leading to negligence liability.

Another important legal difference is with respect to who might be sued. Generally, the other driver is liable. But with a private land accident, the landowner might also have legal liability. Claims against the landowner would also be a negligence claim, but would be based on theories of premises or landowner liability. This liability might be based on hazards in the private road or terrain, a failure to maintain the private road surface or allowing accumulation of dangerous materials like tree branches.

Our Attorneys Can Help

For more information, contact the Louisiana personal injury lawyers at Mansfield, Melancon, Cranmer & Dick LLC. We have a proven track record of success handling many types of Louisiana personal injury cases, including car accidents, boating accidents, motorcycle accidents, premises liability accidents, and cases involving nursing care facility abuse/neglect. Contact us by calling one of our offices: New Orleans at (504) 500-1108, Baton Rouge at (225) 612-0800, or Lafayette at (337) 409-0003. You can also request a free consultation by using our “Contact Us” page.