Parking lots and private property are often hotbeds of minor car accidents. Some lots contain poorly designed parking facilities complete with narrow lanes and hazardous conditions that increase the risk of accidents. Drivers competing for a parking space may inappropriately cut off other vehicles. Parking lots and private property accidents are similar to other types of auto accidents in that the driver should never leave the scene of the accident. It is important to report the accident to both the police and the insurance company.
Let’s look at what you should do when you are involved in a parking lot/private property accident and what steps help you obtain the compensation to which you are entitled.
A Parking Lot/Private Property Car Accident Lawyer
David Azizi understands the heightened emotion a hassled driver has when they pull into a parking lot to run a quick chore only to be involved in a fender bender. Or, worse yet, when they leave the store to find their fender crumpled and no one in sight. David works with the driver in many ways to ensure that they receive the compensation they deserve. Don’t wait to call since evidence can be lost if too much time elapses. Phone David at (800) 991-5292 anytime day or night, and set up a free case evaluation.
Check for Injuries in a Parking Lot Car Accident
Although the majority of parking lot car accidents do not involve serious injury, some do. For instance, some may involve a pedestrian walking behind or in front of your vehicle. This can result in significant injury. Even some fender-benders such as low speed rear-end accidents can cause whiplash injury. If you feel you were injured, make sure to see your family doctor or seek medical care at an urgent care center or emergency room.
Necessary Information After a Crash
Gathering information after a car accident in a parking lot is vitally important since, in all likelihood, the police will not be able to come to the accident scene. Regardless, make the call. If the police cannot come, then look for security personnel who monitor parking lots. Report the accident to them, and let them give you a copy of their report. This report helps when dealing with insurance companies and may contain misinformation that needs to be sorted out. Here are the top things you need to do after a parking lot/private property accident:
- Obtain the name and contact information of the driver. If the driver does not own the vehicle, get the same information about the owner.
- Obtain passenger contact information.
- Ask for insurance information. This information includes the name of the insurance company, a telephone number you can use to contact them and the policy number associated with the vehicle.
- Write down the vehicle model, manufacturer and license plate number.
- Look for witnesses who might have seen the accident. Ask for their contact information. Not only will they provide needed information, particularly when you didn’t see the accident happen, but your attorney will want to talk to them.
- Look around the parking lot, and document if it was crowded. Inspect for signs that make it easier to park or the lack of such signage. Note how easy or difficult it is to use the lot.
- Look and document what row you were in and which parking space. You may have to count the number of spaces from the first or last one to do this, and note which side of the aisle you were in. It is easy to become confused about the placement of the parking space later on.
- Look around for surveillance cameras. Most businesses have one or more parking area surveillance cameras. They are usually affixed atop light poles or the storefront. If you notice one, mark down the location and its position relative to your vehicle. The camera’s footage can be used to see how and when the accident happened. The footage on a surveillance camera belongs to the property owner, and he or she may not be amenable to sharing it. Your attorney will be able to file a subpoena for the tape, making them release the footage in such cases.
Photos Can Save the Day
Whether the negligent party remains behind or a hit and run takes place, photos of the accident can make a huge difference. Pictures not only document the damage, but they also reveal the angle of the collision. This is particularly important in cases where negligence is disputed. If marks are left on your vehicle, take a photo of them. Sometimes, particular manufacturers use a specific color for certain models. Having this photo can help identify the make, model and year of the vehicle that hit you if it left the scene or the driver denies hitting it.
Liability in a Parking Lot/Private Property Accident
First and foremost, the negligent driver is responsible for the accident. Negligence sometimes varies in that both drivers may share the responsibility. For instance, say both drivers are looking to park in a particular space. Generally speaking, the driver on the side nearer an open slot has the right of way. However, another driver may decide to take the spot. When this happens, it is best to look for another space.
All too often, the driver with the right of way might cut off the driver trying to park, taking the slot he or she perceives as rightfully theirs. In cases such as this, both drivers will share some of the responsibility. This is referred to as comparative liability and means that the amount you collect in damages will be less the amount of your liability for causing the crash.
Parking Lot Owner Liability
Sometimes the parking lot owner is negligent. Negligence can occur when the parking lot is under construction, causing chaos, or when signage is incomplete or absent. This is particularly true in urban parking garages, where it is essential to have adequate directions to avoid accidents. In other cases, the parking lot owner may be responsible if the lot is laid out in such a way that increases the risk of car accidents.
Even such hazards as water pooling in the lot can cause mishaps. In areas where black ice accumulates in the winter, cars may skid and cause fender benders. It is the responsibility of the owner to keep the premises safe. If it is proven that the parking garage/lot had hazards that were not repaired or removed, the owner can be considered negligent under the umbrella of premises liability.
What Happens When an Accident Happens and the Driver Leaves
When another driver hits your vehicle in a parking lot, they should not leave. Problems arise for the person whose car is struck when they are not in the car or do not witness the collision. This is common. The negligent party is obligated to try and search for the owner, report the accident to security personnel if possible and leave a note on the car’s windshield with all pertinent information. When this does not happen and if security cameras are absent or do not reveal the negligent party’s identity or witnesses are not available, recovering damages is a little more complicated.
If you have insurance that covers damage to your vehicle, such as collision insurance, you should be able to use it to recover damages. Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage can be used if people are injured. However, uninsured motorist property damage will be of no use if the driver cannot be identified.
Why You Should Not Wait After a Parking Lot Accident
If your car is damaged in a parking lot, you should talk to an attorney as soon as possible after the accident. Insurance companies often refuse to pay what you are entitled to, and even a small amount of damage on today’s vehicles can be expensive to repair. Putting yourself in a position to accept cheap replacement parts will decrease the value of your vehicle when it is time to sell it. Also, if it becomes necessary to be without your car for days or weeks, insurance companies often renege on replacement vehicles.
The Law Firm to Turn To in a Parking Lot Accident
David Azizi has experience dealing with insurance companies and refuses to allow his clients to be undercut. Not only will he deal with the insurance company, but he will make sure everything is filed appropriately and secure surveillance camera images. If the owner of the property is not forthcoming with the CCTV footage, David will subpoena it.
David is not known as one of the best Los Angeles personal injury lawyers for nothing. Call him at (800) 991-5292 as soon as possible after the accident. In cases of parking lot accidents, it is even more critical to get started as soon as possible. Many businesses tape over existing video camera footage and this destroys the evidence that is needed, particularly with a hit and run driver. You won’t pay a thing to obtain David’s help until you win. So, call today.