Parking lots are usually congested and busy places with limited visibility. Drivers are often speeding around looking for that ideal parking spot. Pedestrians are walking in and out of stores. And sometimes bicycles or shopping carts can appear out of nowhere and wreak havoc.
With so much activity in a limited space, it is unsurprising that many auto accidents happen in parking lots. If you ever get into a parking lot accident, keep the following tips in mind so you can stay safe and protect your wallet.
Call for Medical Assistance
If you or anyone else in a parking lot accident has suffered injuries, call 911. If you have any suspicion at all, be sure to call for medical help. Serious injuries may not appear immediately. For example, a person might appear just dazed after the accident; he could have suffered a serious head injury. So, call 911 right away.
Remember that emotions can run high after getting into a parking lot accident. So keep calm. Never argue with anyone about what happened or who caused it. Never admit the parking lot accident was your fault – even if it was! Just be nice and polite with everyone and tell the other driver or drivers that the insurance companies will work everything out.
Call Law Enforcement
After seeing if anyone is hurt, call law enforcement and file a police report. Even if it is a minor parking lot accident, you should always file a police report. A formal police report is vital if you or someone else is injured. Without that report, it is going to be your word vs. the other driver. This is a risky position to be in if you have thousands of dollars of medical bills waiting to be paid.
But it is possible law enforcement will not will not arrive at the accident scene if there are no injuries or the damages are very minor. Even if the police do not come to the accident scene, you should still report it. Some states do require you to report any accident that has damages above $500 or $1000. The police can tell you to go to a local police station to file the report. Or, you can often file it online.
After you have called law enforcement, collect vital information about the other driver, such as his name, license plate number, driver’s license number, insurance data and phone number.
If the other driver will not cooperate, or you think they do not have insurance, collect as much of their information as possible. Also, check for witnesses and try to get their names and contact details.
If you struck a parked car and the owner is not around, get the information about the car and leave a note with your contact details. If you do not leave a note, this is a hit and run incident and you could be fined or even get jail time.
Before you move any of the cars in the parking lot crash, it is wise to take photos, such as damage, broken glass, skid marks, vehicle position and general property damage.
Some insurance firms now have mobile apps that let you upload car accident pictures when you make a claim.
Call Your Insurance Company
If you are in a minor parking lot accident, you may wonder if it is even necessary to report it to your insurance company. Most auto insurance policies mandate that you report all accidents because injuries or damages could be worse than originally thought. If you get into a legal action that is related to an accident you did not report, your auto insurance company may deny the claim.
The only time it can make sense to not make a claim is if the accident happens in your car, on your personal property, and only your property was damaged.
Contact your insurance company if you are in a parking lot accident where the other driver is clearly at fault. Even if the driver does not have insurance, still report it. Your policy may have uninsured/underinsured coverage that will pay for damages.