Just like a road accident, there are multiple factors that can determine who is at fault for a parking lot accident. Many drivers find the rules confusing, but similar to street accidents, parking lots have right-of-way rules. We can help you with how to handle a parking lot accident.
Parking Lot Right-Of-Way
As you go up and down the aisles and lines of parking spots, you may get confused by who exactly has the right-of-way. The best way to determine this is by seeing what type of lane you are in. There are two types of lanes in a parking lot: thoroughfares and feeder lanes.
A thoroughfare lane exits to a street. These lanes tend to be wider and are the main pathway of the parking lot. Feeder lanes, on the other hand, are smaller, more narrow lanes that begin and end at the thoroughfares. If you are driving through a thoroughfare, you have the right-of-way over those in the feeder lanes. If you are in a feeder lane, you must stop and allow traffic in the thoroughfare lane to proceed before you move.
Similarly, if you are exiting a parking space, you must yield to those who are driving through the lane. Just like a car coming out of a driveway, or entering the street, those vehicles have the right-of-way.
Finally, don’t forget about all parking lot stop signs and yield signs. Failure to obey signs can leave you at fault in an accident.
Parking Lot Accidents
A common parking lot accident is one in which a driver is backing out of a parking space and hits another vehicle (parked or moving). Usually, the driver who is backing out of the space is found at fault for the collision with one exception: in an incident where two cars are both backing out at the same time and hit one another; the fault is likely to be shared.
Normally, you will be found at fault in any situation in which you hit a legally parked vehicle. This includes scenarios in which you back into a parked car, hit a car with your car door when opening it, or clip the corner of another car in the lot. If you hit a parked car and leave the scene without making efforts to contact the car’s owner, it can be considered a hit-and-run.
It is very important for all drivers to be aware of pedestrians when driving in a parking lot. Always drive slower and be aware of your surroundings.
How Insurance Companies Determine Fault
Just like an accident that occurs on the street, insurance companies will take statements of involved parties and witnesses and consider all vehicle damages that were involved in a parking lot accident to determine who is at fault.
Parking lots are subject to fault determination rules, which are predetermined guidelines adjusters can use to quickly determine fault. Help aid in the process by cooperating and providing accurate information to help ensure fair fault determination.
If you do not believe you are at fault, you have the right to appeal the insurance company’s decision. A third-party mediation can also be brought in to make objective decisions for the claim.
How to Avoid Parking Lot Accidents
Being cautious while driving is the best and easiest way to avoid other cars, pedestrians, and a collision in a parking lot.
Reverse slowly and double-check for pedestrians, cars coming down the lane, and other cars backing out of other spots. Drive slow and proceed carefully once backed out.
How to Handle a Parking Lot Accident
Here is a breakdown of what to do if you are in a parking lot accident:
If You are the Driver
If you are the offending driver, it’s important to remember not to drive off. You may be panicking but hit-and-runs can be a serious offense. In most states, parking lot surveillance cameras are more common than you think.
Try to track down the driver. Go inside the store and ask a customer service representative to make an announcement describing the victim’s vehicle. If you can’t locate the driver, leave a note that includes: your name, phone number, and explanation of the accident. If more serious damage, call the police to come and document the parking lot accident. This professional documentation can help protect you in the long run when it’s time to file an insurance claim.
If You are the Victim
If your car is the one that got hit, it’s important to contact your auto insurance company as soon as you can. The faster the report, the faster and more accurate the claim will be. If the other driver is still at the scene, collect their name, phone number, driver’s license number, address, and insurance company contact information.
If the other driver is no longer at the scene, record evidence of the accident. Take photos of the damage and look for witnesses. Before you leave the store, go inside and ask a manager if he or she has any camera security footage you can check. This last step can help assist the police to track down the other driver.
If a parking lot accident happens, having your car protected means one less thing to worry about. Contact a Hertvik Insurance Agent today and make sure your car insurance policy has you covered in the event of an accident.