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Determining Fault in a Parking Lot Accident

You use parking lots every day at work, to do your shopping at the mall and to buy groceries. Between cars pulling into spaces and backing out of them, and pedestrians walking around looking down at their cell phones, parking lots can be a prime spot for accidents to occur.

Right of way in parking lots

In a parking lot, just as on the roads, there are main thoroughfares and secondary, or feeder, lanes that intersect with the main lanes that lead to the exits. Drivers on the main thoroughfare have the right of way over drivers in secondary lanes. You should obey signage in parking lots just as you would signs on the street. Drivers entering the flow of traffic will be at fault, as will the driver who is backing up and hits another car or a pedestrian. A driver who hits a legally parked car is at fault.

What to do after a parking lot accident

Immediately following an accident, there are certain steps you should take:

  • The moment after impact, when you are still processing the shock of having been hit, stop and get out of the car to survey the damage. Take pictures of the positions of the cars and the surroundings. Contact the parking lot owner and ask if there is any video surveillance footage that you can use to document the accident.
  • Get the contact and insurance company information from the other driver. Do not make any comments about whose fault it was, even though maintaining your composure at such an emotional moment may be a challenge. Do your best to remain calm.
  • Look for any witnesses to the accident and get their contact information.
  • If there are any injuries or property damage, call the police. Because parking lots are private property, the police will sometimes decline to come and document a fender bender. If the police do not come and your car suffered any damage, you can always go to the local police department and file an accident report.
  • Call your insurance company if your vehicle was damaged. If the damage was minor, you and the other driver may decide to work things out between you without involving your insurance company. However, you do have a duty to report an accident to your insurance company.
  • Call a personal injury attorney if you suffered any injury or your car was damaged. A lawyer will discuss your rights and assess the value of your potential claim.

If you hit a parked car and the driver is not around, leave a note on the car with your contact information. If you return to your car and see that someone has hit it and did not leave a note, you should call a personal injury attorney to pursue reimbursement from your insurance company for comprehensive and collision coverage.

Determining who is at fault

When a parking lot accident comes down to one driver’s word against the other, fault is usually divided 50-50 between the two parties. After you report the accident to your insurance company, they will do their own investigation and determine fault based on the facts they have been able to gather. If you do not agree with the fault determination, you have the right to appeal the insurance company's decision.

When you have been involved in a parking lot accident, there can be a lot of confusion. You most likely have a lot of questions about what to do next. The Law Offices of Robert S. Patterson is a small firm that offers personalized attention, and we have the experience to get the compensation you deserve. Contact us online or call us at 888-479-4589 today for a free initial consultation.

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