How To Deal With an Accident in a Parking Lotby Contributor
A parking lot accident can ruin your weekend. Some parking lots are nothing short of being a deadly trap. It is not uncommon to see people backing out of a parking spot while smoking a cigarette, or talking on their cellular phone.
Most parking lots in America are considered private property, which means different rules apply to them. There are many issues that come up in any given parking lot accident that you need to be able to deal with. Here are few steps you should follow to protect your interests.
Get a witness. If you do not have witnesses (insurance companies require independent witnesses, so your passengers will not count), you may be left with a dispute that cannot be solved. Try to get the name and number that saw what actually happened.
Get the insurance information of the other party. It is often the case that the other party will not want to give you their information. This is when things can get complicated. How can you file a claim if you do not have their information? Insist that both parties must exchange information for insurance purposes. If they do not want to comply, call the police.
Call the police. Do this even if someone has already done it or several hours have passed since the time of the collision. Most police officers will not answer to a parking lot accident (private property = no jurisdiction). However, if they do not come to you, you can go the closest police station and file a "walk in report."
File a police report or a walk in report. A walk in report is a written statement by you of your account of what occurred. Write everything you know and exactly what happened. This will help you later on to document your claim. Sometimes, this will be the only piece of evidence that will come in.
Even if your parking lot accident is minor and the damages are not significant, call your 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 insurance. Most Uninsured Property Damage Coverage in the policy makes it a requirement that you file a police report, this will accomplish that.
If you do not have a witness, go back and 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 recorded. 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 investigation. Some stores will sell you the recording; make sure you keep a receipt so the insurance company can reimburse you for your expense.
If there is no video, take pictures of the parking lot. This will help your adjuster determine how much visibility you had. It will also help them determine if there was other factors that may excuse you completely.
After the accident, try to draw a diagram of the accident. This diagram does not have to be your best work of art; it can simply be boxes and lines to show the position of the vehicles.
Submit all the information to your adjuster and give them a statement. They will take all the information and help your case.