What to Do After a Parking Lot Accident
You’d think the only place to worry about a car accident would be on the road. However, parking lot accidents are just as dangerous.
Although they might be a low impact because people tend to drive more slowly in parking lots and garages, there’s still plenty of opportunity for some pretty nasty damage to your vehicle. If you do have a parking lot accident, you might not be sure how to handle the situation.
Here, we offer tips on what to do when you are involved in a parking lot accident.
The most important thing to do following an accident is to check to make sure everyone is okay. If anyone is injured, call 911 to ensure they get prompt medical attention.
Tempers flare in this kind of accident. People are not as alert in parking lots as they are on the road, which can lead to some unsafe behaviour. However, regardless of how it happens, it is best to remain calm until help arrives.
If the person involved in the accident is not cooperating, avoid confrontation. If necessary, call the police. You should at least try to get their insurance information for minor damages and then your insurance company can take it from there.
Report to a Collision Reporting Centre
Either way, you must notify the Collision Reporting Centre, or visit the local police station, so an official report can be filed. The more damage or injuries sustained, the more critical it is for the police to be involved. If there is no damage to either vehicle or the driver and passengers, then there is no need to call the police or file a report.
If you come back to your car to find damage, and there is no sign of the other car, you should report the accident at your local collision reporting center for insurance purposes.
Following the accident, you should collect the following information from the other driver(s) involved, including:
- Name (and any passenger names)
- Driver’s license number
- Insurance information
- Phone number
- License plate number
If the other person is not cooperating, take down their license number and car make and model. If possible, you should also look for witnesses if you feel you were not at fault. Get their contact information if they are willing.
If you damage a parked car, it is your responsibility to record information about the vehicle and leave a note. Provide the driver with the same information above, or else you can be charged with hit and run by the police. If there are witnesses or security cameras, you will be caught, so it is always best to be honest.
Cell phones make it easy to take photos at the scene of the crash. Some shots can include:
- Skid marks
- Property damage
- Any types of obstructions that might have contributed to the accident
You can then submit the photos along with your insurance claim.
Call Your Insurance Company
Most auto insurance policies require you to report even minor collisions such as these. Also, if you don’t report it and discover more serious damages later, your claim could be denied. If the other driver is at fault, you should contact your insurer, especially if the other driver doesn’t have insurance. This will help support your case to receive compensation. When you are at fault, you will have to pay a deductible. All accidents and claims can affect your auto insurance rates, so following the rules is always your safest bet.
Who is at fault?
The laws of the parking lot might seem unclear to many drivers. However, the same laws still apply in a parking lot as they do on the road. If you aren’t sure who is at fault, follow these guidelines:
- Drivers in a thoroughfare always have the right of way.
- Drivers leaving a parking space must wait for all traffic to pass before pulling out of a parking spot.
- If you collide with a legally parked car, you are automatically at fault.
- You must obey all traffic signs while in a parking lot.
- If you open your car door and hit another vehicle, you are automatically at fault.
Avoiding Door Damage
A common accident that occurs in parking lots are door dents. To avoid door dents, you can try these tips:
- Park in spots further out in the parking lot, as most people will choose to be closer to the destination.
- Avoid tight spaces where there isn’t sufficient space to allow for doors to open fully.
- Always look to see if there is anyone in the car beside you who might be opening their door at the same time.
- Make sure your passengers are cautious when opening their car doors, so they don’t open them too aggressively and damage the car beside you.
- Choose end spots that allow for more space between cars.
- Always park within the lines of the space designated for the parking space.
- Avoid parking in areas not considered an official parking spot.
Avoiding Parking Lot Accidents
Of course, the best way to avoid accidents is to be courteous and follow the rules. You can also use these tips:
- Always drive slowly.
- Keep an eye out for pedestrians.
- Never cut across the parking lot; stick to the roads.
- Watch for drivers who are not using the roads.
- Always signal when turning or choosing a parking space so people know your intentions.
- Opt for parking spaces that allow you to drive right through, so you can avoid backing in or out.
- Choose prime spaces at the end of the row, beside shopping cart stations, or next to a pole or island as this provides protection for your car.
- Avoid tight spaces or spaces allotted for compact cars.
- Park within the lines allotted for the parking space.
- Look all around you before backing out, as opposed to just using your mirrors to spot trouble.
Your best bet is to pay attention to the cars and people around you whenever driving in a parking lot or garage. However, if an accident does occur, these tips will help.
If you would like information on auto insurance, speak to our team at W.B. White Insurance today.
Amanda began her insurance career in 2000. As a Chartered Insurance Professional (C.I.P.), Amanda is passionate about continued education for insurance professionals. Amanda teaches the Insurance Broker Licensing program through Durham College, and speaks about insurance related topics at B2B events.
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