Most people think about a car accident on the street. But car accidents can happen nearly anywhere, including in a private driveway. While the crash may have been truly accidental, the next step is to figure out what comes next.
A 2001 study from Progressive Insurance indicated that most accidents occur within five miles of a person’s home. Because people are very familiar with the area and drive there frequently, they let their guard down. The trend is constant for both male and female drivers. Nowhere is that more evident than in a car accident on a private driveway. You may see a car accident backing out of driveway as well.
Why A Driveway Accident is Different
Because an accident in a driveway is usually on private property, the usual rules of a car accident may not apply. Unless someone is injured, police may not respond. This type of accident does not require a police report.
As with any vehicular accident, the parties involved are required to exchange information. If the accident causes over $1,000 in damages, New York requires the drivers involved to file a Report of Motor Vehicle Accident form. The form must be filed within ten days of the accident. Failing to file could lead to a license suspension.
Despite the accident being on private property, there is a right and a wrong way to handle everything. One of the more important tasks is to determine who was responsible for the accident. However, New York is a no-fault insurance state, meaning that generally, each driver files a claim with their own insurance companies.
New York is also a “comparative fault” state, meaning that if you were partially responsible for the crash, you may not recover as much of a settlement as you would normally. You must check driveway accident statistics for these details.
A personal injury attorney can help if you’ve had a car accident in a private driveway. From investigating the scene of the accident to assessing liability and presenting your claim, your attorney can advise you on the best way to proceed.
What if I hit my own car on driveway?
As a personal injury lawyer based in New York, I strongly advise you to take immediate action if you hit your own car on your driveway. Your first priority should always be to ensure that you and any passengers are safe and seek medical attention if needed.
Once you’ve assessed the situation and determined that everyone is okay, it’s important to assess the damage to your car and document it with photographs or video. This will be important evidence when you file a claim with your insurance company or if you decide to pursue legal action.
If the accident was caused by another party’s negligence, you may have a personal injury case. In this situation, it’s critical to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to help you navigate the legal process and protect your rights. You must ask your attorney “is it illegal to settle a car accident privately”?
It’s important to remember that insurance companies are often more concerned with their bottom line than with compensating you fairly. That’s why having an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side is crucial. A skilled lawyer can help you negotiate with insurance companies, gather evidence, and advocate for your best interests.
You may believe that the person pulling out of the driveway is the responsible party. In many cases, you’d be correct, but not always. The driveway accident fault may also be due to the following reasons:
- The vehicle’s owner, depending on their insurance policy
- The vehicle’s manufacturer, who may be responsible for a malfunctioning backup system
- The homeowner, who is responsible for ensuring that their property is safe and there are no obstructions that prevent a driver backing out from seeing where they’re going
Naturally, an insurance company will push back and attempt to lay the blame for the accident on you. But if you’re not responsible, a personal injury attorney can help determine the true responsible party for the accident.
New York State’s statutes also indicate:
- § 1211. Limitations on backing. (a) The driver of a vehicle shall not back the same unless such movement can be made with safety and without interfering with other traffic.
- (b) The driver of a vehicle shall not back the same upon any shoulder or roadway of any controlled-access highway.
- (c) the driver of a motor vehicle engaged in retail sales of frozen desserts as that term is defined in subdivision thirty-seven of section three hundred seventy-five of this chapter directly to pedestrians shall not back the same to make or attempt to make a sale.
Pedestrians injured in a driveway accident may have their claim paid by either the driver or the property owner, depending on the circumstances. The property owner as well as the driver can be held responsible. If the driver struck you, they can be required to pay your expenses. Alternatively, if you were an invited guest and became injured because of unsafe conditions, the property owner can be held liable because they were responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of their private driveway.
Preventing A Driveway Accident
The primary reason people have accidents so close to home is simple: they drive in the area so often they don’t even have to think twice. They become so comfortable that they can drive on autopilot. That comfort level leads to an accidental crash.
You can prevent driveway accidents by:
- Give yourself time to leave the driveway properly
- Walk around your vehicle before pulling out and check for anyone else (including children) or objects behind the car
- Make sure your mirrors are correctly adjusted so that you can see everything
- Roll down your window if possible, so you can hear oncoming traffic and any horns
- Look behind you, especially on the left, in addition to scanning the mirrors
- Pulling out slowly and be ready to brake as needed
- Use your horn as needed to warn pedestrians
- Avoid backing out by parking with the front end forward, if possible, giving you greater visibility.
- Get help from a passenger, if you have one, especially in the presence of larger vehicles blocking your view
Even if your vehicle has a backup camera, turning around and looking is also highly recommended. You should know if there are any private driveway laws for car accident.
Get Help With A New York Car Accident In A Private Driveway
Driveway accidents happen more often than you think. Just like an accident on the street, a driveway accident can lead to serious injuries that last for months. Pedestrians can be very badly hurt.
If you’ve been involved in a driveway accident, work with a personal injury attorney who can help handle your case and understand your legal options.
You don’t need to handle your accident case by yourself. If you are involved in a car accident on private property in New York, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Law Offices of Elan Wurtzel.