When you think “car crash,” you might think Highway 50 side-swipe or getting T-boned turning left after someone runs a red light, but not all crashes are as dramatic as that. You might be surprised to learn that many collisions happen in public (and private) parking lots.
Busy parking lot, people backing out without looking, rushing to turn left before oncoming traffic—the hustle-and-bustle nature and close confinement in parking lots can lead to some unfortunate scenarios. As careful as we try to be, we can’t control the behaviour of others. So, what do you do if you’ve been in a parking lot crash?
Things you need to know about getting hit in a parking lot
Getting hit in a parking lot is more common than you might think, but you’d be surprised at the potential severity of injuries and property damage, even with the low speeds. If you’re in your car at the time of the incident and there are injuries, the first thing you’ll need to do is call 911. If no one’s injured, then you’re safe to exchange information with the other driver. Make sure to get their registration, auto insurance, and driver’s license information on the scene.
Preparing to file a claim for a parking lot accident is no different than filing a claim for an accident that took place on a major highway. You’ll want to document the accident, take as many photos as possible, and possibly even call the police if there are injuries or the estimated damages exceed $2,000. If there are witnesses around, you’ll want to get their statements. If the parking lot where you were hit was outside a store, ask the store owner for any possible security footage they may be able to produce.
What if I don’t know who hit me?
Imagine you ducked inside a store to do a little post-work shopping and you came back outside to find the front of your car had been backed into. No other car in sight, and no one nearby seems to know who hit you. In this unfortunate scenario, sometimes known as a “hit-and-run accident,” an incident where a driver who is unidentified or even a driver who is identified but has insufficient insurance hits your car may be covered under collision insurance.
In the even more unfortunate scenario where you or even a passenger were still inside the car when it was hit and the driver is unable to be identified, you may have some coverage for their or your injuries under a section of auto insurance known as uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage.
Still, before you go through insurance, it’s important that you take a few steps to ensure you and your passengers are safe and your car isn’t in any further risk of being damaged:
- Move your car to the side of the road, if possible
- Turn on your hazard lights and try to mark out the area to avoid further accidents.
- Once everyone’s safe, get in touch with law enforcement. If your car is OK to drive or the damage was only minor, you can drive to the nearest station to file a report.
- You may also consider asking nearby shop owners if there are any security cameras overlooking the parking lot. This can help to identify the driver who hit you.
If you don’t have collision car insurance, the odds are you may have to pay out of pocket for the incident. If you do have collision coverage, you’ll need to pay your deductible before insurance covers the rest.
Travelers, one of AHI’s partners, has some good information on car insurance and covering hit-and-runs.
Getting in touch with your insurance provider
Call your insurance provider as soon as you’re done dealing with the police (if applicable) after an accident. Even if you’re not at fault, it’s important to let your insurer know to avoid delaying your coverage and/or repairs. Remember, you are not responsible for contacting the other party’s insurer, whether you’re at fault or not! In an accident where you’ll need to file a third-party car claim (such as where the other driver was at fault) you may need to file a claim with them, but you can do so virtually or by simply reaching out to your own provider to consult about next steps.
Calling your own insurance company is recommended because of these reasons:
- It can help expedite the claims process
- It can assist in providing coverage ASAP for injuries or damages (especially for families and individuals who are struggling financially)
- You may end up having out-of-pocket costs if you fail to report the accident right away
- The other driver involved in the accident could allege damages or injuries later, which could cause the story to not correlate with what you said initially at the scene
You should always inform your car insurance company, even if there’s minimal damage/no injuries at a collision or accident. We recommend doing so even if you’re not technically obligated to do so, as it’ll ensure that they have a record if you need to file a claim later or even if the other driver ends up filing a claim against you.
If you’re confused about what to do following a parking lot crash, not to worry. AHI Group is here to help answer any questions that you may have and help alleviate your concerns or worries. At some point, the majority of us will have been involved in a car accident. It can be stressful, but knowing what to do can be a huge aid. Give us a call today.