Driving to the mall or shopping center can fray the nerves. You have to be careful of other drivers speeding around you and changing lanes without signaling. Or, pedestrians walking in or near traffic without paying attention. Finally, you reach the relative calm of the parking lot. While you can relax a bit, you still need to be extra vigilant. There are more than 50,000 parking area accidents reported each year in the U.S.

Whether it’s not seeing a car as you back out of a parking spot, coming around a corner and hitting another vehicle, or returning to your car or truck to find someone damaged it and drove off, parking lot accidents happen more often than you might think.

While most are minor, they can be very unsettling. In most cases, the police or other law enforcement will not respond to accidents on private property unless there is serious damage, injuries, one or more of the drivers were under the influence, or a driver was in a stolen vehicle. Determining who is at fault in a parking lot accident can be a sticky situation.


Here are 10 important things to do if you’re involved in a parking lot or parking garage accident:

    1. Call for medical help if someone is injured.
    2. Avoid getting into an argument and avoid admitting fault.
    3. Take pictures before moving the vehicles (document damage, whether the parking slots are slanted or perpendicular, the direction of the lane – one way or two way, and any other important factors).
    4. Write down the time of the crash. Diagram where and how it occurred and any other important information (obstructed views, weather conditions, how fast your or the other car was going, arrows or other markers showing the direction of travel, etc.).
    5. Exchange insurance and other important information (license plate and driver’s license numbers, names and phone numbers).
    6. Seek out and get contact information from any witnesses.
    7. Don’t negotiate with the other driver to work a deal without notifying insurance because they could still make a claim.
    8. Leave a note under the wiper blade with your name, insurance, and contact information if you hit an unoccupied vehicle and can’t locate the driver.
    9. Contact your insurance provider as soon as possible.
    10. Make a police report.

To help avoid an unplanned “bumper-cruncher,” here are some tips:

    • Be extra cautious when backing out of a space (the cause of 25 percent or more of parking area crashes) and don’t rely on backup cameras.
    • Observe posted signs.
    • Slow down.
    • Don ‘t cut across lots and spaces.
    • Don’t speed up or suddenly back up for a vacant space.
    • Avoid cell phone and other distractions.
    • Park in well-lit areas.
    • Choose a parking spot at the end of the row or next to an island or pole to help protect our car.
    • Watch for pedestrians, especially children and the elderly.

Here are some critical things you need to know.

    • Never leave the scene without leaving a note; doing so could result in a major violation and penalties.
    • Be aware of staged accident schemes.
    • In most states, without collision or uninsured motorist damage coverage, you’ll be paying for damage if someone hits you and drives off without leaving a note (check your policy or contact your auto insurance agent to see if you have coverage).

Your documentation, impact to the vehicles and witness statements will help determine who is at fault of a parking lot collision. Often, insurance companies will split responsibility between both parties if it is unclear who caused the damage.

Make sure you’re protected. Contact a California Casualty advisor to make sure you’re covered for the unexpected. Call today for a policy review at 1.800.800.9410 or visit www.calcas.com.  


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This article furnished by California Casualty.  We focus on providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement, firefighters and nurses. Learn more or get a quote at www.calcas.com.


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