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Parking Lot Accidents: Fault, Negligence, and Other Issues

Seattle Car Accident AttorneyHow To Handle A Parking Lot Accident Claim

You've been to the grocery store on a busy day. You know that driving in a parking lot can be a frustrating endeavor. With so many inattentive people in one place, it doesn't take much for someone to end up hurt.

Drivers smoke, watch Netflix, cram a sandwich with one hand and splash some coffee after it with the other. Before you realize it, they've crashed into your vehicle or struck you as you were walking. Regardless of what caused the incident, if you are involved in a parking lot accident there are several things you need to know:

1) Get The Other Driver's Insurance Information

One challenge many people involved in parking lot accidents face is when the other party does not want to exchange contact and insurance information. This is a red flag. It will be much more difficult to file and resolve a claim for property damage or 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.

2) There Are Cameras Everywhere

At the scene of the accident, you should whip out your video-enabled cell phone and capture information and statements from the other driver and witnesses.

Later you can go back to the scene and talk to the business owners to see if you can get a copy of any security camera footage. Many parking lots have surveillance cameras and it is likely that the accident was caught in tape. This will be the single most important piece of evidence.  Your adjuster should get this evidence, but many adjusters don't put that much effort into these sorts of investigations. They might get a few witness statements and conclude their fact-finding mission.

3) File A Police Report

Most parking lots in the United States are considered private property, and most of these car accidents are of the low-speed variety. Because of this parking lot accidents rarely result in significant bodily injury claims. This often influences police to decline your call for help. The police might even decline to respond to document the incident, determine fault, or do anything that an accident on a public road would warrant. 

But you can take the initiative and file a police report by going to the nearest station. 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.

Understand The 'Insurance Game'

There are two main reasons why people won’t give you their insurance information:

  1. They don't have car insurance, or
  2. They don't want to report the claim to their insurance company, and want you to be on the hook for all costs. 

Insurance agents try to discourage people from making a claim against their own insurance policy. Insurance rates, most of the time, 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. Discouraging claims increases their paycheck. Not filing a claim can jeopardize your coverage, and you have a duty to report an accident because not doing so can leave you without coverage.

REPORT: Parking Lot Accidents: Help with Handling Your Parking Lot Claim

Source: Washington Accident Books and Reports

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