A parking lot accident can ruin your weekend. If you ever went to the grocery store, you know that the
parking lot is a deadly trap. It is not uncommon seeing people backing out while
smoking a cigarette, or talking in their cellular phone. It is even worst when
you honk at them and they look at you as if you were doing something wrong. If
you are in a parking lot accident, there are several things you need to know
about before it is too late.
Most parking lots in America are considered private
property, and most of the accidents are low speed impacts. This means that
“usually” there will not be people making bodily injury claims, at least not at
the scene. The combination of the two allows the police decline your call for
help. It is very likely that the police will not respond to document the
You will be left at your own devices to get the other
party’s information and defending your case. A parking lot accident usually gets
complicated. Drivers have very different perspectives of what happened and word
vs. word situations will most likely arise if you do not have witnesses
(insurance companies require independent witnesses, so your passengers will not
It is often the case that the other party will not want to
give you their information. This is when things can get ugly. How can you file a
claim if you do not have their information? Call the police again (even if that
is after they left) and try to get them to come out. If they don’t, then go to
the closes police station and file a walk in report. Write everything you know
and exactly what happened. This will help you later on to document your claim.
There are two reasons why people won’t give you their
insurance information. Either they do not have insurance (way to often in the
U.S.) or they think you are responsible for the accident. The common view is “if
you hit me, then your insurance should pay”. In no fault statues (like
Michigan), this does not apply, but all fault states most driver do not want to
file against their own insurance company. Although this is a reasonable
deduction, it is misguided.
Insurance agents try to discourage people from making claim
against their own insurance policy. They worry about your rates. Most of the
time, your rates will not be affected if you are a good customer and the
accident is not your fault. Agents also have personal motives for this; they
have “loss ratio” percentages that can lower their commissions, so they want to
discourage claims as much as they can. No filing a claim can jeopardize
coverage, you have a duty to report an accident, and not doing so can left you
This can put you in a very bad spot. If you do not file a
claim then no defense against bodily injury claims and ludicrous claim will be
paid by the insurance company. Protecting your defense rights can save you
thousands of dollars in legal fees in paying someone’s alleged injuries.
Even if your parking lot accident is minor and the damages
are not significant, call the insurance company and put them on notice. This
will protect you in case the other party makes a claim against you. Remember
that a parking lot accident is the single most disputed accident out there.
Make sure you file a police report, even if that is a walk
in report. This will protect you in case the other person does not have
Uninsured Property Damage Coverage in the policy makes it a requirement that
you file a police report, this will accomplish that.
It is a great idea to go back to the parking lot and talk
to the business owners (or managers). Many parking lots in America have
surveillance cameras and it is likely that the accident was caught in tape. This
will be the single most important piece of evidence. Should your adjuster get
that? Yeah, she should. But that does not mean that she will. Unfortunately
there are many adjusters that will only take a recorded statement and call it an
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Hector Quiroga, J.D.