Who is at Fault for a Parking Lot Car Accident

white car damaged on a parking lot car accident

Parking lots are often busy areas packed with vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists and other objects. These lots may have tight parking spaces and obstacles such as large ground-based concrete polls, shopping cart corrals, and permanent light poles.

A parking lot accident can involve a crash between multiple vehicles, a vehicle and a fixed object, or a vehicle and victim, like an individual or a cyclist. Some crashes may even combine several of these factors. Just like on the road, there are a number of factors that affect who is at fault when an accident takes place in a parking lot. Many drivers may find the rules confusing, but just like our highways, parking lots have right-of-way rules.

The Rules

Here are some general guidelines regarding parking lot accident fault:

  • The vehicles in the “through lanes” (cars in the traffic lanes) have the right of way. If a driver pulls out of a parking space and collides with a vehicle traveling in the through lane, the driver pulling out will probably be deemed at fault for the accident.
  • Drivers leaving a parking space must yield to any other oncoming traffic.
  • If you are driving your vehicle, and you collide with a legally parked car, you are at fault. However, if the car is parked illegally, the driver of the other car could be at fault.
  • You must obey all traffic signs while in a parking lot. You are automatically at fault if you are in an accident as a result of failing to follow the directions of a traffic sign in the parking lot, such as a stop or yield sign.
  • If you open your car door and hit another vehicle, you are at fault for any damage.

In most instances, these accidents will be minor since the automobiles are usually traveling at a slow speed, and as a result, will not lead to anything more than frustration. But in other situations, a driver or passenger may be hurt and may be in need of medical help. Regardless, when parking lot accidents are found to be your responsibility, they can raise your auto insurance rates.

Why Fault Matters

Determining fault is important in parking lot accidents since it plays an important role in whether your car insurance policy will cover damage to the vehicles and for any personal injuries that occur.  Liability insurance is a requirement for automobile drivers in Arizona. It helps pay for the harm done to individuals and to any property damage sustained by other drivers in an accident for which you are found at fault.

It can often be very difficult to place who is to blame for a collision in a parking lot car accident. That is why it is essential you have a proper insurance policy. Being insured not only protects you and your vehicle, it also safeguards the people and property around you. If you have been involved in a parking lot car accident, contact your insurance company as soon as possible. They can help with the arrangements to get your claim started and your car repaired as soon as possible.

Fault of Another Driver

It may occur that you come out to your car after shopping at the grocery store, mall or after work and find your car has been hit and damaged. According to Arizona law, drivers, who hit a parked car, must stop and do either of the following:

  1. locate the owner of the parked car to provide their name and address; or,
  2. leave a conspicuous note that provides their name and address.

A violation of this statute has serious repercussions or the person leaving the scene. If this situation happens to you, contact your insurance company and advise them of the circumstances. Be sure to document the situation as follows:

  • Record any damage by taking photos
  • Note the location of the incident
  • Write down the date and time of the accident

Driver Beware

If you are concerned about getting into a parking lot car accident in the first place, keep these driving tips in mind:

  • Drive slowly
  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • Stay alert for cars, bikes, and pedestrians cutting across parking lanes
  • Look in both directions before backing out of a parking space instead of relying on a mirror or rearview camera
  • Park in spots farther away from a store in order to avoid traffic

Experience Counts

At Gebhardt Insurance, we know that you have many options for insurance providers. For over 14 years we have been independent insurance specialists. Instead of selling our own insurance coverage, we shop the nation’s top carriers to find you the absolute lowest auto insurance rates. But we don’t stop there. We regularly review your coverage and help you receive the best value for your insurance dollar, all while providing the best customer service in the business.

Contact us now at 520-445-4929 to learn more or get a free quote online.

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Steve Gebhardt

Gebhardt Insurance Group was honored by AAA Insurance for being the top New Policy Agency in Arizona for 2013 and achieving the "Emerald Achievement Award."
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