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Negligence Standard: Public Roadways versus Private Parking Lots or Roads


An auto accident that takes place on a public roadway has a different negligence duty versus an auto accident in a private parking lot or road.

Accident on a public roadway

The Ohio Revised Code provides the duties imposed on drivers while traveling on public roadways. The traffic laws can be found in Ohio Revised Code Section 4511. Most auto accidents involve who has a right of way at an intersection. Some examples of these include:

  • Right of way when turning left, codified under 4511.42A;
  • Right of way at stop signs, codified under 4511.41; and
  • Traffic control devices, codified under 4511.13.

These statutes provide the specific duties for certain scenarios, circumstances, and actions by drivers while on public roadways. The duty of each driver will be determined by the specific, applicable statute or statutes.

Accident on a private road or parking lot

If an accident takes place on a private road, parking lot or other private property, the duty of the driver is not defined in a statute. Instead general principles of negligence apply. In other words, the duty of each driver is what would be expected from a reasonable driver under the facts. Auto accidents that occur on private roads and parking lots take more consideration of each party’s alleged duty. Triers of fact will have more opportunity to find comparative negligence between the parties versus an accident on a public roadway, subject to Ohio statutes.