In this latest installment on Georgia Accident Reports, we ask the question: What happens if you are in a Georgia accident on private property, like a parking lot? Who decides fault between the parties, and how does one obtain the insurance information for the other driver? If a crime was committed, like a drunk driving wreck or a hit and run collision, then the police will of course have jurisdiction. If a crime or obvious traffic offense was not committed, then an officer is under no obligation to act. Law enforcement officers will usually not draft an accident report if there are no injuries and the accident occurred on private property. I myself have been involved in truck accident in a private parking lot. The police officer refused to complete a report. Luckily for me, the other driver was honest about what happened, and his insurance company paid the claim. This dosen't always happen.
The Georgia Department of Transportation does offer a Georgia Private Property Accident Report. This form is very detailed and thorough with respect to the quantity of information. However, this form is not required to be filed in Atlanta with the DOT and according to a DOT spokesperson I spoke to: "Is only for people to give to their insurance company."
It is questionable to me whether this report is valuable at all, since the person filling it out will probably be only one party to the accident emphasizing his or her own version of events. On the back of the form, there is a blank where one can list in narrative detail what happened, but this does not require all parties to complete it.
Accident reports accomplish 2 things: they provide information and they assign blame. The Private Property Accident Report provides a lot of information but does not assist with determining fault. I would tell my clients to provide information, but to omit any question or blank that requires him or her to make judgments or conclusions concerning fault. I think an insurance adjuster, absent an admission of fault by his insured or overwhelming physical evidence, will deny a claim and dare the other driver to sue. Unless there is a third party arbiter of fault, the insurance company always has an out. This is unfortunate, but it makes you appreciate a police officer. They really do protect and serve.
If you have been seriously injured in a car accident, truck crash or motorcycle wreck on private property, then you should contact an experienced Georgia personal injury attorney to protect your interests. If you are approached by the other driver or his or her insurance company, don't say anything until you speak to a lawyer and formulate a strategy.