Unfortunately, parking lot accidents can and do happen from time to time. It’s important to realize that they can affect your car insurance premiums just as much as any other accident. Parking lot accidents tend to be reported less frequently since they are usually relatively minor incidents, but they can be every bit as significant to your driving and insurance records.
Who’s at fault in a Parking Lot Accident?
Sometimes it can be difficult to determine who is at fault in a parking lot accident, since the rules of the lot are not as well known as the rules of the road. In addition, if there are no witnesses it often comes down to one driver’s word against the other. Here are some rules to help you determine who is at fault in a parking lot accident.
- Drivers in a thoroughfare (a lane that directly exits onto a road or highway) have the right of way over a driver in a feeder lane.
- Drivers leaving a parking space must yield to any other oncoming traffic.
- If you are driving your vehicle, you are automatically at fault if you collide with a legally parked car.
- You must follow all signs in the parking lot.
- If you hit the open door of a car, the driver who opened the door is at fault.
A feeder lane is a lane in a parking lot that does not directly exit onto a road or highway, such as the lane between two rows of parked cars. So, for example, if you were in a feeder lane turning into the lane that leads directly to the parking lot exit, you must wait for any traffic in that lane to pass before turning.
You must wait for all traffic to pass before pulling out of your parking spot.
No matter the circumstance, if you hit a legally parked vehicle, you are at fault. On the other hand, if the car is parked illegally, the driver of that car could be at fault.
You are automatically at fault if you are in an accident as a result of failing to follow the directions of a traffic sign in the parking lot such as a stop or yield sign, or if you fail to follow the directions of a police officer.
It is the responsibility of the person opening a car door to ensure that there is no traffic approaching before they do so.
What should you do after a parking lot accident?
A parking lot accident should be handled the same as any other accident. Any accident with over $1,000 in damage should still be reported to the police.
Some people choose to pay for the accident out of their pocket without informing their insurance company, but this approach can backfire. Your insurance company is within their right to cancel your insurance policy if you fail to report an accident. In addition, if you have a cancelled policy on your record, it makes it much more difficult to find affordable insurance at another company. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Most of the same rules about what you should do in the event of an accident on the road are still good guidelines to govern yourself if you are involved in a parking lot accident
- Move your vehicle out of the way of traffic if you are able and it is safe to do so.
- Make sure that no one in your vehicle is injured.
- If you feel it is safe to do so, approach the other driver to see if they are ok.
- Report the accident to the police if the damage is over $1000.
- Get as much information as you can.
- Call your insurance company to report the accident.
Pull over to a less trafficked area if you can, being careful to watch for oncoming traffic.
If there are any medical emergencies, you need to deal with these as quickly as possible. If anyone is unconscious, call 911 immediately.
Use your judgement to determine if it seems safe to approach the other driver. Ask if they require any medical assistance.
Most significant accidents will result in over $1000 in damage. If you’re in doubt, call the police (non-emergency number) and ask for instructions.
Your auto insurance company will need to know the time, date, and location of the accident, as well as the make and model of the other driver’s car. Get as much contact information as you can from the other driver, including their insurance company and policy number, along with their name, address, phone number and email address if possible. If there are witnesses, get as much contact information from them as well.
Your insurance company needs to know about the accident as soon as possible. They can help with the arrangements to get your car repaired and start your claim started as soon as possible to get you the assistance you need.
Following the rules of the road (and parking lots!) is the first step in avoiding parking lot accidents. If an accident does occur, make sure that you follow the correct steps in notifying the police and your car insurance company. This allows you to get the matter settled as quickly and efficiently as possible and get back to your life.