Parking lot accidents happen all the time. In fact, according to a CBS News report, parking lot crashes make up 20% of all accidents that occur on public roadways and properties each year. What’s more, at least 500 people die in parking lot incidents annually, and another 60,000 or so individuals sustain reportable injuries. It is clear that parking lots can be as hazardous as other roadways.
Even if an accident does not result in an injury, it can cause property damage. Damage to vehicles and personal belongings can result in costly repair and replacement bills and create a huge source of frustration for victims.
If you or a loved one was involved in a parking lot accident, or if your vehicle sustained damage while parked or driving through a lot, you may wonder about your rights and responsibilities. Can you collect compensation for your losses from the at-fault party? What steps should you take after a parking lot accident to secure your rights to an insurance claim or legal action? An experienced parking lot accident attorney in New York can inform you of your rights and responsibilities and advise you on what you need to do to protect your interests.
How To Respond After a Parking Lot Accident
Parking lot accidents involving two moving vehicles happen all the time. These types of accidents take a few different forms:
- Rear end collisions due to rear drivers following too closely
- Rear end collisions due to drivers backing out without checking their mirrors or impatient drivers trying to get around vehicles backing out
- Head-on collisions due to drivers leaving spots without checking their surroundings or impatient drivers trying to get around vehicles
- Drivers ignoring yield and stop signs or other drivers’ rights of way
If you were involved in any of the above types of auto accidents, or even if your crash looked slightly different, it is important that you respond appropriately. What is appropriate depends on whether anyone sustained injuries or if the crash only resulted in property damage.
Non-Injury Parking Lot Accidents
If your parking lot accident did not result in any injuries, you and the other driver should move your vehicles to a secure location where you can exchange information. Before you do so, however, try to get photos of the scene and each vehicle.
Though New York is a no-fault state (meaning your insurance covers any damages you sustained in an accident), the at-fault party’s liability coverage should pay for your property damage. Unless you have riders that cover property damage to your own vehicle, such as comprehension coverage or collision insurance, your insurer is not responsible for vehicle repairs. For this reason, it is crucial that you collect the at-fault driver’s information.
If the damage to your vehicle or the at-fault party’s vehicle is less than $1,000, then neither of you needs to file a report with the Department of Motor Vehicles. However, if your vehicle sustained more than $1,000 in damages, you must file a report with the DMV within 10 days. Failure to do so may result in the suspension of your license.
Injury Parking Lot Accidents
If you, a passenger, or occupants of the other vehicle sustained an injury in the incident, your next steps will look slightly different. In addition to pulling over and gathering the at-fault driver’s information, New York law requires you to contact the police following an injury accident. If you or a passenger sustained an injury, your no-fault insurance benefits should cover the costs of medical care, lost wages and other reasonable and necessary expenses.
What To Do When Someone Hits Your Parked Car
Many parking lot accidents involve at least one unoccupied vehicle. Legally speaking, if another driver hits your parked car while you are in a store or business establishment, he or she has an obligation to contact the police. The police can take that person’s name on your behalf and contact you with his or her insurance details shortly after.
It is not uncommon, though, for drivers to get out and leave a note of apology, along with their contact information. If you find a note on your windshield explaining new damage, you may assume that the contact information is sufficient. Unfortunately, many individuals fail to respond to phone calls from persons seeking compensation for damages. To protect your rights, contact the police yourself. The police can enter the nearest establishment and request video footage of the parking lot. If the officer can get the license plate number of the offending vehicle, he or she can then confirm the individual’s contact information and possibly contact him or her on your behalf.
Say the driver who hit you did not leave his or her information. In this case, you would, again, contact the police. The police would go through more or less the same procedures as if the person had left a note. However, given that the driver did not, the officer may feel compelled to issue legal charges. Hit-and-run charges can result in fines, license revocation, points on one’s driving record and possibly jail time.
What To Do if a Car Hits You While Walking Through a Parking Lot
If a vehicle hits you while you are walking through a parking lot, the consequences can be much more severe. From broken bones to head injuries, you are likely to sustain considerable trauma and injuries. If this is the case, you or the at-fault driver should contact the police and an ambulance right away. If you can, collect the at-fault party’s information, as his or her no-fault coverage should cover the cost of your medical expenses and other damages as completely as if you filed a first-party claim.
When To Contact an Attorney
Involving an attorney is not necessary after every parking lot accident. However, if your incident resulted in considerable property damage, if the at-fault party hit and ran, or if you or a passenger sustained any injuries in the crash, it may be worth your while to explore your legal options. The team at Cellino Law can help you do just that. Learn more by contacting our Buffalo, New York, law firm to schedule your free initial consultation today.