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Parking Lot Accidents: How To Determine Who Is At Fault And What To Do After The Accident Occurs

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It's a typical day – which means you're busy taking the kids to school and running a million different errands. You're getting through your day without incident when all of the sudden, you're blindsided by a minor fender bender or other accident in the parking lot. If you've never been involved in a parking lot accident before, you might be confused about who is at fault, and what you need to do to ensure you're protected. Here is some valuable information to help you understand who is typically at fault in a parking lot car accident, and what to do if you're ever in this situation:

Determining Fault In a Parking Lot Automobile Accident

According to the American Automobile Association, AAA, around 20 percent of all automobile accidents occur in parking lots, and in many of these cases, determining who is at fault can be tricky.

The laws that ultimately determine who is at fault in a parking lot automobile accident will vary by state. However, in the majority of cases there are certain rules and factors that will apply:

  • In most parking lots, there are two lanes every driver needs to learn about: the thoroughfare and the feeder lane. The thoroughfare is the lane you use when you're getting back onto the road. The feeder lane is any other lane that doesn't go onto the road. In an accident that involves a car in the feeder lane and in the thoroughfare, the driver in the feeder lane is typically deemed at fault.

  • If you hit an open door of a parked car, it is the person who opened the door, not you, who is at fault. Typically, the court will consider it the responsibility of the person who opened the door to watch for traffic.

  • The driver who is backing out of a parking space must always give the drivers in the feeder lane the right-of-way. If there is an accident, the person pulling out of the parking space will typically be held liable.

  • If you hit a car that is parked legally, you will be found at fault – no matter what the circumstances. However, if the car is parked illegally, such as in front of a fire hydrant or if they aren't disabled and parked in a handicap spot, that driver might be found liable.

Once again, the laws will vary depending on which state you live in, and it can often be tricky to determine who is at fault. If you're in a parking lot accident, don't leave yourself open to a potentially unfounded lawsuit and instead, contact an attorney immediately.

What To Do After A Parking Lot Accident Occurs

If you're ever in a parking lot accident, whether you are the victim or at fault, the first thing you need to do is remain calm. Next, make sure that everyone in the car isn't injured. If someone is injured, contact 9-1-1 immediately.

Once you've determined everyone is okay, call the police. While you wait, gather as much information as you can at the scene. Take pictures of any injures you or your passengers suffered. Take photos of any damage to your car. Ask for the names and phone numbers of any witnesses. These will come in very handy if you're forced to go to court.

Finally, your next steps should be to contact your insurance provider and an attorney. Even if the accident seems minor and there are no injures, you never know what steps the other driver might take next. Contacting both these professionals will help protect you from any legal actions the other driver might take. Follow the link in this sentence to read more about this topic.