What to Do If You Get in a Car Accident in a Parking Lot
Sometimes, parking lots can be more like bumper cars.
There are so many drivers backing out of their parking space without looking, zooming down the aisles way too fast, refusing to obey stop signs, failing to yield to pedestrians, and more. It’s practically a wonder that there aren’t more accidents!
If you get into an accident in a parking lot or private residence, you need to know what to do. What are your rights and responsibilities? How do you figure out who is at fault? Do you need a lawyer?
Today, we’re covering this very common type of car accident. Let’s get started.
What to Do During a Parking Lot Accident
First, let’s talk about what you should do if you’re involved in an accident in a parking lot or private residence. Here is a list of your responsibilities:
- Seek medical help. This is number one. While most parking lot accidents involve cars moving at slow speeds, it is still possible for someone to be injured. This is especially likely if the accident involves a pedestrian or motor vehicle occupant who is older or prone to injury.
- Call the police (or file a report). Reporting the accident is key. Often, your insurance company will use the police report to determine fault.
- Gather information. If you can, gather information from the other driver. (This assumes the other driver didn’t drive off after damaging your car—an unfortunately common scenario.) You’ll need their name, driver’s license number, insurance information, phone number, and license plate number. If the other driver is angry and uncooperative, just get as much information as you can. (Also, if you hit a parked car, make sure you write down information about the car and leave a note. You should not just leave: this is considered a hit-and-run!)
- Take pictures. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Along with the information you gather, pictures serve as important evidence for your insurance company. You should take pictures of any vehicle damage, property damage, and skid marks.
- Contact your insurance company. While the other driver might ask you to just “work it out” with them, it’s always a good idea to report the accident to your insurance company. (For example, say you find out later that your injuries are far worse than you originally thought. If you never reported the accident that caused them, your insurance company might deny your personal injury claim.)
If someone damaged your car while you were in the store, still do all of the above. However, you should also ask around the parking lot to see if anyone witnessed the accident and check with the store (or residence) to see if they have security cameras.
Determining Fault in a Parking Lot Accident
As we mentioned above, not every driver is on their best behavior in a parking lot (or private residence), and accidents are common.
Unfortunately, it’s often hard to determine exactly who was at fault in this type of accident. That’s why it’s generally a bad idea to apologize or take the blame for the accident. The crash might then be recorded as your fault, when it actually wasn’t.
So how can you determine fault in a parking lot accident? Well, parking lots have rules and right of way just like roads do.
- In parking lots, there are “through lanes” (the lanes on the outside of the parking lot) and “parking lanes” (the lanes that you drive down to find a parking space). Drivers in the parking lanes must yield to drivers in the through lanes.
- All drivers must obey all “Stop” and “Yield” signs.
- Drivers must obey posted speed limits.
- All drivers must exercise caution when pulling out of parking spaces. When multiple vehicles are pulling out of a parking space, the vehicle that begins pulling out first has the right of way.
Drivers who break the above rules are at fault for any accident that occurs. For example, a driver would be at fault if they hit someone else after running a stop sign or backed out into someone in the parking lane because they didn’t check their rearview mirror.
In some cases, it’s harder to determine fault—such as when two drivers back out of a parking spot and into each other.
When to Get a Car Accident Attorney
Fortunately, most parking lot or private residence car accidents are very minor. They involve nothing more than a dented fender or a scratched car door. In these cases, it’s not necessary to hire an attorney.
If you were involved in a serious accident involving injuries, however, it is a good idea to consider a lawyer. A skilled car accident attorney can help you protect your rights and fight for compensation for your medical bills and other expenses.
If you were injured in a car accident, call Casper & Casper today. We have offices in Cincinnati, Dayton, Hamilton, and Middletown for your convenience.