A parking lot accident can ruin your day. Some parking lots are nothing short of being a deadly trap. It is not uncommon to see people backing out of a parking spot talking on their cell phones or texting. Most parking lots in America are considered private property, which means different rules apply to them. Here are some ideas that will help you in case you are in a parking lot accident.
- After the accident, pull your car out of the way and into a safe location.
- Exchange names, addresses, phone numbers and insurance information with other drivers. Make sure you SEE the driver’s license and insurance information of all other drivers. Insist that all parties must exchange information for insurance purposes. If they do not want to comply, call the police.
- Get the names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses. This is one of the most important tips I can give you regarding parking lot accidents. Witnesses can help verify what happened during the accident.
- Even though you may be upset, take note of the facts surrounding the incident such as time, date, location, weather conditions and parking lot conditions. Write them down. Take pictures if you have a cell phone with a camera.
- Call the police. Do this even if someone has already done it or several hours have passed since the time of the collision. Most police officers will not come to a parking lot accident (private property = no jurisdiction). However, if they do not come to you, you can go to the closest police station and file a “walk-in report.” Write down everything you know and exactly what happened. This will help you later on to document your claim. Sometimes this will be the only piece of evidence that will come in. DO THIS WHILE IT IS FRESH IN YOUR MIND.
- Even if your parking lot accident is minor and the damages are not significant, call the Gannon Agency right away – we can give you information on how to proceed. This will protect you in case the other party makes a claim against you. Remember that a parking lot accident is the single most disputed accident out there.
- If you do not have a witness, talk to the business owners (or managers) of stores in that parking lot. Many parking lots in America have surveillance cameras and it is likely that the accident was recorded. This will be the single most important piece of evidence.
- If there is no video, take pictures of the parking lot or draw a diagram of the accident. It can simply be boxes and lines to show the position of the vehicles. This will help your insurance claim’s adjuster determine how much visibility you had, etc.
How to Determine Who is at Fault
People are expected to drive their vehicles with care and thought. Failure to do this is the cause of many accidents and can lead to lawsuits. There can be no-fault accidents, in which case the person who had the right of way is not responsible for the loss. However, if you were backing out of a parking spot and hit a car, you would be at fault since you had the greater duty of care when backing out of your spot. Even though the other person may not have had their lights on or was driving very quickly, because they had the right of way, they’re not at fault. Now if both parties are backing out of parking spots and collide, the loss could be considered 50/50 in which case both parties are partially at fault.
How to Avoid Parking Lot Accidents
- Park far away from other vehicles, if possible
- Use a turn signal when making a turn, even in a parking lot
- Park in the center of a parking space – not on the lines
- Pay EXTRA attention when pulling into and backing out of parking spots
- Drive VERY SLOWLY in parking lots – be careful when entering and exiting a parking lot
- Do not park next to obstructions or hazardous objects
- Try to get an end parking spot
A worthwhile investment that I strongly recommend is getting the back-up sensors installed on the rear bumper of your car, especially if you drive a pickup truck, SUV or van. The back-up sensors will run about $300 – $400 but if it prevents just 1 small claim it was well worth it, especially when you consider that most people have a $500 collision deductible.
For more information on safe driving and auto insurance, please contact:
Steve Gannon – President
Gannon Insurance Agency