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How to Handle a Parking Lot Accident

After finding the final perfect gift on your long list of holiday shopping, you exit the mall and make your way to your vehicle. You unload your shopping haul, get in the car, put on your seatbelt, and begin slowly reversing. As you reach to change the radio station and find the perfect holiday song, another driver suddenly collides with you in the parking lot. You and the other driver now have to get out of your cars, and try to decide what course of action needs to be taken.

You’re not alone. Many parking lots don’t have traffic signals because businesses don’t want to spend the money on yield signs, and assume collisions won’t occur since people are operating at fairly low speeds in these areas.Nonetheless, accidents in commercial parking lots are common, and account for 20% of all auto accidents, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Most of these accidents result in property damage, but sometimes serious injuries and death can occur.


If you get in a parking accident, here are a few steps you can take to protect yourself and your right to fair compensation, if you are not at fault.

  • First, call the police.
    • They will assess the scene of the accident, jot down witness accounts and collect information from both you and the other driver. He will often draw a diagram of the scene, placing one driver at fault based on his gathered information. You can pick up this report a few days later for a fee, and use it to support your claim.
  • While you and the other driver wait for the police to arrive, exchange names, addresses, phone numbers and insurance information.
    • If the other driver tries to make a deal with you or tries to pay you at the scene, tell him that you don’t need to come to an agreement and the insurance companies will work out the details.
  • Gather evidence to prove you’re not at fault.
    • Witnesses, photos of the damages and footage from surveillance cameras can support your claim.
    • If you are at fault, there’s no use in filing a claim. Be honest with your insurance company that you were responsible. Admitting or denying fault is not necessary while at the scene of the crime, but can make the settlement process with insurance companies go smoother.

When should I call an attorney?

  • If the damage is only to the cars and personal property, getting an attorney involved is not necessary.
  • If you have sustained minor injuries such as whiplash, cuts, bruises, strained muscles or ligaments, you can handle filing a personal injury claim.
  • If your injuries are serious such as broken bones, head trauma, organ damage or other injuries that require a hospital stay, it’s best to contact Parvey & Cavenago for a free consultation to examine your accident and help you receive compensation for your damages and injuries.
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