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What to Know About Parking Lot Collisions

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Our firm is sometimes contacted by clients who were involved in a parking lot wreck. These parking lot collisions occur frequently, but they present their own set of issues.

This article discusses the unique circumstances of parking lot crashes and provides helpful tips about what to do in the unfortunate event that your vehicle is struck in a parking lot.

First and foremost, parking lot collisions typically occur on private lots, rather than public highways. Because the collision did not occur on a public roadway, the responding police officer typically will not give the at-fault party a violation or a ticket.  Also, the responding officer may not prepare a police report. Or, if a written report is prepared, it is often much shorter than a typical accident report.

Without a citation or thorough police report, it can be much more difficult to prove who was at fault in causing the collision. As a result, you should be very proactive about gathering evidence.

If you are involved in a parking lot collision that was not your fault, be sure to do the following:

Take photos before you move your vehicle. 

I know, it's hot, the kids are screaming, and you're late for dinner. Your instinct is to move the car and get out of the parking lot as soon as possible. The law allows you to move your car from traffic lanes on highways, but there is only one foolproof way to show exactly how a parking lot collision occurred: get out and take pictures while both vehicles are still touching in the exact spot where the collision happened.  There are obvious exceptions to this, such as if you feel in danger or threatened at the scene, or if anyone is severely injured and needs immediate medical attention. Preserving evidence never trumps health or safety, of course. But if everyone is ok, make it a priority to take pictures before the cars are moved.

Obtain the other driver’s information.

Take a picture of his/her license, registration, license plate, insurance card, and damage to the other vehicle. If the other driver flees the scene, the incident becomes a Hit-and-Run, and the police absolutely have the right to cite the other driver. 

Get a statement from any witnesses.

Ask any witnesses to write down a statement for you, For anyone who provides a statement, be sure to obtain as much contact information as possible (phone number, address, email, etc.). While it may be awkward to ask a perfect stranger for a statement, you will be happy to have it if the other driver later changes her story or tries to blame you. Our memories fade over time, so it is important to get the information as early as possible.

Locate cameras.

Look around and see if there are any cameras in the parking lot. If so, ask the manager of the premises to preserve the video. Most surveillance cameras have their recordings erased after a certain period of time, so if you do not specifically ask for footage to be preserved, it could be lost forever.

Contact your insurance.

Cooperate with your insurance company and provide them with a statement describing what happened. Do not discuss injuries at this point. Simply tell them, "I would rather not discuss my injuries right now."

If you are ever involved in a parking lot collision that was not your fault, be sure to follow the above suggestions. That will go a long way toward preserving your evidence and helping ensure that the responsible party is held liable for your damages.

If you are hurt, or have any issues with your case, you should contact an attorney immediately.