Being involved in a car accident in a parking lot can be one of those things that really puts a damper on your day. If you have ever been to the grocery store on a busy day, you know that driving in a parking lot can be a frustrating endeavor and with so many inattentive people in one place, it doesn't take much for someone to end up hurt.
It is not uncommon to see drivers coming and going while smoking a cigarette or talking on a cell phone, and before you know it, they've crashed into your vehicle or struck you as you were walking.
Regardless of what may have contributed to the incident, if you are involved in a parking lot accident there are several things you need to know before it is too late.
Most parking lots in the United States are considered private property, and most of these accidents are low-speed impacts. This means that, typically, parking lot accidents rarely result in significant bodily injury claims. This often influences police to decline your call for help, and it is increasingly likely that police will not respond to document the incident and damages.
As a result, you may be left with the responsibility of obtaining insurance and contact information about the other party involved on your own. Drivers usually have varying perspectives of fault in these accidents, and determining liability can become a challenge for both sides.
One challenge many people involved in parking lot accidents face is when the other party does not want to exchange contact and/or insurance information. This should be seen as a red flag, because it will be much more difficult to file a claim for property damage or bodily injury and have it resolved in a reasonable amount of time.
This may also be taken as a sign that the other party does not have car insurance or a valid driver's license. In instances where a person has been involved with an unlicensed and uninsured driver and suffered injuries, Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM) can make a big difference in terms of the victim recovering compensation for their injuries.
I touched on this briefly already, but there are really two main reasons why people won’t give you their insurance information. Either (1) they do not have insurance, or (2) they want you to be held liable for the accident and do not want to report the claim to the insurance company.
Insurance agents try to discourage people from making a claim against their own insurance policy. Most of the time, insurance rates will not be affected if you are a good customer and the accident is not your fault.
It's also important to know that agents have personal motives for claims; they have "loss ratio" percentages that can lower their commissions, so they want to discourage claims as much as they can. Not filing a claim can jeopardize your potential claim coverage, and you have a duty to report an accident because not doing so can leave you without coverage.
Even if your parking lot accident is minor and the damages are not significant, call the insurance company and put them on notice. This will protect you in case the other party makes a claim against you. Remember that a parking lot accident is the single most disputed accident out there.
Make sure you file a police report, even if it is through a walk in report. This documentation will protect you in case the other person does not have insurance. In many cases, Uninsured Property Damage Coverage in the policy makes it a requirement that you file a police report. All of these things are important to take into account during your decision-making process.
It is a great idea to go back to the parking lot and talk to the business owners. Many parking lots in America have surveillance cameras and it is likely that the accident was caught in tape. This will be the single most important piece of evidence. Should your adjuster get that? Yes, they should, but that does not mean that they will. Unfortunately there are many adjusters that will only take a recorded statement and call it an investigation.
Despite the fact that many of these collisions occur at relatively low speeds and with minimal impact, it is not uncommon for a person to suffer significant personal injuries as a result of a parking lot accident. Whether the victim is a pedestrian or is inside of their vehicle at the time of the crash, there is still a possibility that the victim will require medical treatment and physical rehabilitation in order to recover from their injuries.
If you or a loved one has suffered personal injuries as a result of the negligence of another person or entity, it may be financially beneficial to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer. If you would like to have your case evaluated by our award-winning legal team, contact us online here or call our office at 206-727-4000 today to schedule a free legal consultation.
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