Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health in...

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Written by Rachael Brennan
Licensed Insurance Agent Rachael Brennan

Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jun 29, 2022

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In a nutshell...

  • Car insurance is meant to cover any accident no matter where it occurs
  • Accidents on private land can be slightly more complicated because it may be harder to determine who is at fault
  • Make sure you get proper documentation and choose an insurance company that can help you through the process

When car accidents occur on main roadways, the police will come to the scene immediately to cover the accident.

It is their responsibility to respond to any accident that occurs on the roadways whether it is a major highway or a side road. But when an accident occurs on private property, it becomes a more complicated matter.

Car insurance is meant to cover any situation in which you are driving your car and have an accident. However, when it occurs on private land, it becomes a bit more complicated from a legal perspective.

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Who is liable?


The question of liability comes up when you have an accident on someone’s private land. It is sometimes harder to tell who was at fault when the accident occurs on private property.

This question of liability sometimes brings in a third party (the landowner) when it comes to determining the level of fault.

If you have an accident on someone’s private property, you should first call the police because you need a police report to show what happened. The police will document any property damage or other issues that might have occurred. If the accident occurred on public property, this documentation will be even more important for you to have.

Whether the accident occurred in a private parking lot or a family farm, you must have a report and a paper trail that shows what happened.

This police report will save a lot of time and trouble later if the case ends up in court or you have to go into a hearing for an insurance settlement.

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When to Ask for a Police Report

If the police officer comes to the scene but does not offer a police report, you may need to ask them for one. Remember, this report is your only documentation from someone in authority that has no bias in the matter.

You may be involved in potential litigation with at least three parties:

  • You
  • The other driver
  • The property owner

The question of who is at fault will have to be decided before payment can be meted out in such cases, just as it is in a normal insurance filing. But it can become more complicated if the landowner was involved in the liability.

Make sure to ask for documentation and to have a copy of the police report sent to either you or your insurance company.

Are there any witnesses?

Another thing you can do that will work in your favor is to see if there were any witnesses to the accident.

If there were farm hands working nearby who might have seen the accident, or motorists or pedestrians passing by at the time of the accident, you would want to get their names and phone numbers in case you or your attorney needs to call them later.

Once you have left the accident scene and the witnesses have gone their way, it may be difficult or impossible to locate them again.

Remember to protect yourself by doing what is needed to document your accident any way you can including the police report and witness contact information.

No-Fault vs. Fault States

Much of what happens following an accident on private property will be determined by whether you are in a fault or a no-fault state. Find out which category your state falls into if you are not aware of this.

In a no-fault state, everyone is responsible for their damages, no matter who is at fault so it would not matter who caused the accident, even when it happens on private land.

In a fault state, the insurance company of the person at fault pays for all damages.

  • If it is your fault, your insurance will pay.
  • If the other driver or the landowner is at fault, they must pay for damages.
  • If both the landowner and the other driver are to blame, there may be equal liability between them, in which case the insurance of the other driver will likely pay for all damages, but the landowner may have to pay a fee to the court for his or her liability or to the injured parties.

As you can see, this matter can get complicated since there are so many potential parties involved and fault can be harder to determine when it occurs on private land.

You may want to ask about personal injury protection to help give you extra protection in such situations.

Car insurance covers all accidents. It is just necessary to document what happened completely when filing a claim in these cases to determine claim eligibility. Depending on the amount of your deductible, if the accident led to only minor damage, you may have to cover that cost yourself. Your insurance coverage will be determined by your auto insurance policy.

Insurance adjusters may be involved in this process as they usually are with most accidents and they may be able to tell you how to document your damages, take pictures of your damage, and keep track of the information you will need for a proper claim.

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Having Good Insurance is Everything


When it comes to matters of handling a car accident claim, the most important thing to you as the driver is having the right car insurance.

If you have a good insurance company, you can rest assured that they will handle your claim promptly and guide you through the process of filing and submitting your claim.

If you have done everything right, your insurance company will be there to help you through it no matter where your accident occurred.

Having the best auto insurance that you can trust is the most important thing.

Shop around and look at the claims rates of various companies. Enter your zip code below to compare rates side-by-side.