What to Do After a Parking Lot Accident
Backing out. Checking for pedestrians. Monitoring rogue shopping carts. Driving in a parking lot is no simple task. That’s exactly why accidents occur there so often. Fortunately, slower speeds make serious damage and injury less likely in parking lot accidents.
We’re here to help navigate the aftermath of a parking lot accident. If you’re a policyholder, follow these simple steps to get back on the road.
At the scene of a parking lot accident
Check for injuries
While slower speeds may make injuries less likely, it is possible for a driver, passenger or pedestrian to be injured in a parking lot accident. If anyone appears to be injured, immediately call 911 and begin providing first aid, if needed.
Call the police
Report the parking lot accident to police. Because parking lots are high-traffic areas, officers can help drivers, passengers and pedestrians involved in the accident, re-route traffic and assist with accident clean up. Most important, officers will file a formal accident report, which will help everyone involved in the claims process.
Exchange information with other parties
Gather information from anyone else involved in the accident.
- If this involves store property — such as a shopping cart or cart corral — get name, contact and insurance information from the store manager.
- If a pedestrian is involved in the accident, get the person’s name, contact and insurance information.
- If another driver is involved in the accident, ask for the driver’s contact and insurance information. In addition, note the other vehicle’s license plate number. (Snap of a photo with your phone if you don’t have a pen and paper handy.) Unfortunately, some drivers will insist they are not at fault and that there is no reason to give you any information. If the other driver leaves the scene without communicating, the license plate number will help you track him or her down.
- If there are independent witnesses, ask for their contact information and whether they’d confirm details about the accident.
Jot down the date, time, weather and conditions in the parking lot. (This can be useful if a wind gust flung a shopping cart into your vehicle and caused a dent.) Make notes about what happened, including what you saw, heard and felt. Write down the number of people involved and any injuries you saw.
Take photos of the scene
If you have a smartphone or camera, take pictures of the scene. Photos help show what happened and the degree of damage. If you can, make a diagram to illustrate the course of events, too; doing this while the accident is fresh in your memory will help your recall later.
Give us a call
Once you are at a safe location, call to start an accident claim or notify us that someone will be starting a claim against you. Have your policy number on hand. We’ll ask you some basic questions about the accident. Call us regardless of how little damage you see. We’re here to help.
Get a check-up for both you and your car
Though parking lot accidents may seem minor, injuries can occur. If you have suffered any injuries, visit your doctor. Even if there does not appear to be major damage to your car, there may be internal problems. Take your vehicle to an auto repair shop for a more thorough inspection.
Preventing Parking Lot Accidents
- If you can, avoid shopping centers at rush hour.
- Keep your eye out for rogue shopping carts. The wind can send a full cart careening toward you in a split second.
- Avoid parking near cart corrals where shopping carts are returned. Shoppers sometimes miss corrals when returning carts and bump vehicles parked nearby.
- Pull forward into a parking spot so you won’t need to back out.
- If possible, park in an unoccupied parking spot that is away from other vehicles.
- Check for signage and other parking lot barriers. Be especially aware of short poles or signs that you might not see when backing out.
- If your car is equipped with a back-up camera, use it to avoid bumping into barriers behind you.
- If you’re driving a vehicle that’s new to you, be aware of blind spots. Double-check the view from all angles before backing up.
- Focus on your driving. Don’t let your phone, radio, children or anything else distract you from driving safely.