Parking Lot Accidents: How to Handle
Parking Lots Can Be Dangerous, Injuries Occur All the Time
As parking lots begin to get more crowded and certainly during the holidays, you may find yourself in more danger of a parking lot accident. Cars weaving in and out of parking spots, slow moving cars attempting to dodge pedestrians and even distracted drivers not paying any attention to other drivers can cause a serious accident. In most instances, parking lot accidents only lead to a fender bender and personal property repair, but there are some that directly lead to the injury of the parties involved.
We have represented a number of clients who have been injured by someone in a parking lot, even when they were fully stopped. Keep in mind that liability becomes trickier, but the rules of the road generally still apply and determining who is liable is very important.
What to Do After a Parking Lot Accident?
If you are in a crash, even if it is in a private area such as a store parking lot, you should call law enforcement. You should also leave your car where it is, unless doing so would place you or others in additional danger.
Oftentimes, police officers operate under the mistaken belief that they have no power to investigate a traffic crash that happens on private property, such as a publically accessible parking area. That simply isn’t true under West Virginia law, where all law enforcement officers are specifically authorized to enter such areas to investigate a crash:
W.Va. Code § 17C-14-13a.
Police officers authorized to conduct investigations on private property
Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, nothing may prohibit any duly authorized municipal police officers, county deputy sheriffs or members of the department of public safety from entering upon private lands in order to investigate a motor vehicle accident when said private lands are open to the use of the public at-large for any purpose. (June 1995)
The point is to document the event. If a law enforcement officer will not investigate the crash, exchange information with the other driver and take as many pictures as are necessary to show what happened, including especially the location of and the damage to the vehicles.
Parking Lot Accidents and Insurance Claims
Evidence recorded at the scene will be important for your claim, whether it is just property damage or there were injuries. Time and time again, your car will get hit by another driver, you only gather their insurance information and they take off. Next thing you know they are denying they ever struck your car or that it was your fault. Evidence is especially important if there were injuries.
Most parking lots are associated with a particular store. Generally, they will have recording devices that can be accessed, but you should contact store management immediately to ensure that the recording is preserved as many stores loop their tapes and record over the previous week or even day very quickly. It is also important to get witness information. Anyone that saw the accident will be key in proving who was liable. It will also help you when you are battling and experienced insurance adjuster to have someone else sharing the same story as you.
Accident Claims for Injuries in a Parking Lot
In the end, a parking lot accident is just like an accident on a roadway. You were injured, your car was damaged and you want everything to be fixed. The insurance company is not going to treat you any different and they will never make the process any easier. You need the best information available to ensure that you are treated fairly.
Remember, if you were hit in a parking lot accident, you want to get treatment if necessary, get the information from the driver at fault, any witness information, any possible recordings of the accident and contact an attorney to help you get ready for a fight.