Most of us have been in a parking lot accident at some time in our lives. Although accidents in parking lots are usually fender benders, serious injuries can and do happen.
Parking lots are often chaotic places. Drivers are zipping in and out, pedestrians are making their way to stores and youths are on skateboards. As many as one in five accidents occur in parking lots. Most are not serious but the elderly or children may suffer fatal injuries.
Earlier this year in Florida, an 88-year-old woman was killed in a Walmart parking lot when an 84-year-old woman backed into her.
Here are five things to do after a parking lot accident.
1 Protect Yourself and Your Rights
Check if you have been injured. Pay particular attention to blows to the head. If you or anyone else needs medical attention call 911. If a police officer asks you if you were hurt don’t tell him you were not injured. Often symptoms set in later and a statement saying you are OK could be used against you in a later personal injury lawsuit.
2 Call the Police
Unless the accident is a minor fender bender, you should call the police to report it. This is especially important if you believe you may have injuries. A police officer will file a report which will be used in subsequent litigation. Later on, if you were injured, it may be your word against the other driver’s if you lack a formal report of the accident.
Even if a police officer does not attend, it’s important to report the accident to the police and insurance companies. Never get into an argument about what happened. A dispute may escalate the situation. Never admit you were to blame.
3 Compile Evidence
Once you have called the police, gather as much information as possible. If you are not too seriously injured get the name and insurance details of the other driver and the names of any passengers. Get phone numbers and vehicle license plate numbers.
Take pictures at the scene with your cell phone. Get names and contact details of any witnesses. Even take video statements or recordings on your cell phone.
Even if the other driver is uncooperative or you think they don’t have insurance, get as much information as you can.
If you hit a parked car in a parking lot and the owner is nowhere in sight, record the information about the vehicle and leave a note under its wiper blade with your contact information. If you just leave the accident scene, you may be considered a hit-and-run driver and could face criminal sanctions.
4 Talk to Your Insurance Company
If you were involved in a minor accident, you may wonder if you should report it to your insurance company. If you have been involved in any accident, you should contact your insurer. The damage to your car or your injuries could be worse than you think.
You should contact your insurer if you have been in an accident where the other driver is at fault, even if he or she does not have insurance. You may have uninsured motorist coverage or underinsured motorist coverage on your policy.
5 Talk to a Georgia Injury Lawyer
If you have been injured due to the fault of another driver in a parking lot, you should consider contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer. It makes sense to do this early in the process before you say anything incriminating to the insurance company. Call the Law Office of Michael West at (404) 913-1529.