How to Deal with a Car Accident in a Parking Lot
Parking lot accidents happen all the time. Fortunately, most accidents are low speed and involve only two vehicles.
However, even low-speed accidents can cause serious bodily injuries, and pedestrians are at an increased risk of catastrophic injury when a motorist backs over them.
In many ways, a car accident that takes place in a parking lot is no different than an accident that takes place out on the open road. Remember to follow these steps.
Ensure Everyone is Okay
The health of everyone involved should be your top priority. Check with everyone in your vehicle and ask if they are okay. You can then also get out and ask anyone else involved in the fender bender if they need an ambulance.
Call emergency services if anyone is hurt. Sometimes, a person might feel only “a little shaken up” when they have, in fact, suffered a serious brain injury. This person should not be driving to the hospital, so have an ambulance come out if anyone is injured.
Contact the Police
Most car accidents that take place in a parking lot are minor. However, it’s wrong to assume that in a parking lot accident no police report is required. Under North Carolina law, you need to make a report if someone has been killed or injured, or if car damage exceeds $1,000. Call the police and let them know about the accident.
Swap Personal and Insurance Information
You might need to submit a claim with a person’s insurance carrier, so get the following information:
- Name of the other drivers
- Drivers’ contact information
- Make, model, and license plate number for the cars involved
- The name and contact information for any insurance carrier
Remember to share your own information with the other drivers as well.
Obtain Evidence of What Happened
Parking lot accident laws are just like laws for accidents on the open road—whoever is responsible for the accident will be on the hook for paying money to victims. Sometimes, it is obvious who is at fault for the collision, but many people will fight any accusation that they are the one to blame.
Gather the evidence you need to establish fault by remembering to do the following:
- Take pictures of where the vehicles end up right after the collision and before you move them out of the way. These pictures can often show quite clearly who hit who.
- Be sensitive to someone’s privacy if a pedestrian was struck. You don’t want to take a picture of someone bleeding on the ground unless you have their consent. After emergency personnel take them to the hospital, you can photograph the spot where they landed.
- Identify any witnesses to the accidents. These can include other pedestrians or drivers in the parking lot, as well as passengers in any vehicles. Get names and contact information. You might need to talk to them later.
- Save any debris. If a car tore off your side mirror, keep it.
You also don’t want to get your car fixed right away—at least not until an attorney can look at it. Your car might have important clues which will disappear if you get a new paint job or dents removed. If necessary, rent a vehicle to transport you, at least until you meet with a lawyer.
Avoid Taking Responsibility for the Crash
If you go to court, anything a party involved says can come in as evidence. For this reason, try not to apologize, since “I’m sorry” sounds like an admission of fault. Also don’t minimize your injuries by saying, “I feel okay,” even if you feel fine. Instead, keep small talk to a minimum and be professional.
Go to the Hospital
Sometimes, serious injuries are slow to develop. This is true of brain injuries and back injuries. As soon as possible, get to the hospital to be checked out. You will need medical records if you hope to sue for compensation.
Hire a Top Car Accident Attorney in Greenville, North Carolina
Parking lot accidents are no laughing matter. Even at low speeds, some of our clients have suffered back or neck injuries, and many are unable to return to work. They need compensation in a settlement, which an experienced car accident lawyer can help you get.
Contact Dawson & Albritton today. We offer a free consultation.