It seems parking lots are designed for fender benders. Cars are always in motion, looking for or pulling in or out of parking spaces. Drivers are more focused on getting in or out than paying attention to other traffic. Then there's always the added distraction of people walking through the traffic and spaces trying to get to the store or back to their cars.
Although common, parking lot accidents are usually low-speed collisions. Damage is minimal, and usually personal injuries aren't very serious. That doesn't mean you should take one of these accidents lightly, though.
Steps to Follow If You're Involved in an Accident
You need to protect yourself and your belongings from any potential lawsuit if you're involved in an accident. Here are some steps you should take right after the collision:
- Pull the cars out of the way and into a safe location
- If you can't move your car, put on the emergency flashers and exit the car
- Immediately phone for medical assistance if anyone is injured
- Call the police
- Call your insurance company
- Take picture if you have a cell phone with a camera
- Exchange names, addresses, phone numbers and insurance information with other drivers
- Get the names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses
- Note any facts surrounding the incident such as time, date, location, weather conditions and parking lot conditions
- Call an attorney if you are injured or the damages are extensive
Reasons to Call the Police
Calling the police, even if your state doesn't require you to, is a good idea. Often, the police will write a report of the incident, which may help establish the facts of the case. The officer can also help at the scene with traffic flow problems. Also, the officer may be able to determine if anyone was driving recklessly or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
In some areas, the police won't write a report when the accident takes place on private property, like most parking lots. This is when you need to take careful, detailed notes of the accident details.
Reasons to Call Your Insurance Company
As soon as possible, report the accident to your insurance company. They'll investigate the damage to your car and any other vehicles involved. The damages can also tell the story of how the incident happened and who's at fault. Even if the damages are minimal, you don't know if problems may arise in the future.
Reasons to Call an Attorney
You may want to call an attorney because the laws in each state vary and proving fault in parking lot accidents can be tricky. An attorney will explain your legal rights and obligations and at the same time work to make sure you're fully compensated for your injuries for your injuries or for any damage to your vehicle.
Who's at Fault?
There are no set laws for determining fault in most parking lot accidents. That's because most lots are private property, meaning the state traffic and motor vehicle laws generally don't apply. So, in the vast majority of parking lot accidents, police officers don't issue tickets.
Quite often, people have heated disagreements when it comes to assigning fault. The insurance companies may decide who's at fault based on information they get from the drivers and the police. It may take a lawsuit to figure out who's to blame.
The other driver, the owner of the lot, you or a combination of people may be responsible for vehicle damages and personal injuries.
Next, No-Fault Accidents