There are many steps involved in handling a parking lot accident. If you get into an accident in a parking lot, the first thing you should do is check to see if anyone is hurt. If they are, you should immediately call for medical help. After checking for any injuries, you should call the police to file an incident report. After that, you should get the contact information and insurance information from the other driver. Also, take photos of the accident scene if possible. Then, you should contact your insurance company. Finally, consider if you need the help of a car accident attorney.
Information You Should Collect at the Scene
If you have been in a car crash in a parking lot, after you call the police you should speak with the other driver to get their information, including:
- Name and phone number
- Driver’s license number
- Insurance information
- License plate number
Also, look around for any witnesses who may have witnessed what happened. Get the names and phone numbers of anyone who witnessed the accident, in case you need to get in touch with them later.
Take Photos at the Scene
Another important step—and one that many people fail to take—is to take photos at the scene. Before anyone moves the cars, take photos of:
- Damage to the vehicles
- Broken glass
- Skid marks
- Any other property damage inside the car
Contact Your Insurance Company
It is generally a good idea to report an accident to your insurance company, even in cases where you believe the damage is minor and could be worked out between you and the driver directly. This discretion is because damage could be worse than you initially realize, and if you have not reported it, the insurance company could deny your claim.
In cases where you believe the other driver is entirely at fault for the accident, it is still important to contact the insurance company. This policy is especially true if you suspect the other driver may not have car insurance. You may have uninsured motorist coverage that could cover the cost of your damages.
Determining Liability During a Crash in a Parking Lot
The main legal principle that governs fault in car accident cases—regardless of their location—is negligence. We presume all drivers are cautious and obey the law. However, if a driver is not cautious in a parking lot and violates traffic laws, they are said to be negligent.
In many states, insurance companies and the legal system use a system of comparative fault to determine compensation. Comparative fault is a tort rule that allocates damages when both drivers are somewhat at fault.
In states where there is a pure comparative fault, such as Louisiana, the damages you receive for the accident are reduced by the degree to which you were at fault. For example, if you are awarded $50,000 in damages and are 10% at fault, you will only be able to recover $45,000. In this scenario, because there is no at-fault threshold, even if you are found to be 90% at fault for the accident, you can still recover $5,000.
Many states have modified comparative negligence, where there is an at-fault threshold. This legal concept means that if a driver is more than a certain percentage at fault for the accident, then they may not recover any damages. In Arkansas, for example, if you are more than 50% responsible for the accident, you cannot recover any compensation.
The reason it is important to take photos at the scene, documenting the damage and position of the vehicles, and get contact information for witnesses is that they can help determine liability. A police report will also carry significant weight with the insurance company in determining liability.
In some cases, there may be a third party responsible who is liable for damages in a parking lot, such as the owner or manager of the premises. For example, if a reasonable person would have foreseen the likelihood of an accident in a poorly lit parking lot, the owner could be found liable for the accident as well.
If there is only a very small amount of damage from the car accident, you may feel that speaking with a lawyer is unnecessary. However, if there is significant property damage or you had to seek medical attention because of the crash, a car accident lawyer can help evaluate your case, review the evidence, and help you explore your options for recovering compensation. If you live in Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, or Alabama, contact the team at Morris Bart, LLC for a free, no-risk consultation. Call (800) 537-8185 today.