a car with damage in a parking lot

How to Handle a Parking Lot Accident

Updated May 1, 2024 . AmFam Team

When it comes to traffic accidents, parking lots can be a gray area. It’s not really a roadway, and sometimes one of the drivers isn’t even around during or after the accident. So what do you do if you’re in one?

For starters, take a deep breath. You’ve got this. And to help you along the way, we’ve gathered some helpful hints for dealing with some of the most common parking accidents.

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Collision insurance helps pay for repairing or replacing your car after being damaged in an accident, whether it's your fault or not. Learn more about this optional coverage.

Hit and Run

If you arrive at your parked car and notice it’s been damaged while you were gone, hopefully the responsible party has put their name and phone number on a slip of paper under your windshield wiper. If not, you’ll want to take these steps:

Photograph the Damage

Be sure to take good shots of the damage to your vehicle, including any broken glass like your windshield or headlights. If you see any other cars in the area with damage to them, snap a picture of those, too.

Write It Down

Record what day the accident occurred on and what time you discovered it. This is important information to have when reporting the incident.

Contact the Police

Even if the damage isn’t that significant, you should still call the police. Call the local non-emergency line to have an officer sent to you.

Call Your Insurance Agent

The sooner your agent is aware of the accident, the sooner they can help you get your life back to normal. Your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab)is always ready to help you when the unexpected happens.

Investigate the Accident

It won’t hurt to do some detective work. If the parking area or business you’re located at has a security office, contact them to see if they have video surveillance that could determine what happened. If you parked on the street, check local businesses to see if any of them have street-side cameras that may have captured the incident. Some businesses only keep film for a limited time, so quick action is your best bet.

Fender Bender

Though fender benders are known to be minor in nature, it’s a good idea to handle these accidents just as you would any other.

Remember, when you’re involved in any car accident follow these quick tips to help make sure your situation gets handled as smoothly and safely as possible:

  • Remain calm
  • Call the local authorities
  • Collect information
  • Document everything
  • Contact your agent
a car with damage in a parking lot

What to Do If You’re at Fault in a Parking Lot Accident

Typically, if only one car is moving at the time of the parking accident, the driver of the moving car is usually at fault. So, if one car is legally parked and another hits it, the driver of the moving car is responsible for the accident.

If this happens and you’re found at fault in a parking lot car accident, take a deep breath and follow these tips to safely and responsibly resolve the situation.

Share Your Information

Always provide your insurance information, name and phone number to the other individual.

If You Can, Wait

If they aren’t near their car when the incident occurs, wait for the owner of the car you hit to arrive. If you’re at a venue where you can go inside to have them called to their car, be sure to leave your phone number and name on their windshield in case they come back while you’re gone.

Leave Your Contact Info

If they don’t arrive before you have to leave, write your phone number and name on a piece of paper and slip it under their windshield wipers. But be sure not to share your insurance information with them until you connect in person.

How to Avoid Parking Lot Accidents

To help decrease the chance of getting into a car accident at a parking lot, there are a few easy tips you can follow:

  • Drive slowly and cautiously in the parking lot
  • Obey the directional arrows painted on the lot
  • Don’t park in a compact space if you don’t have a compact car
  • Park between the lines of your spot — never take up two or more spots
  • Look in both directions when backing up in addition to using your mirrors or rearview camera
  • Park in a spot where you can pull forward instead of backing out if possible

If a parking lot accidents happens, having your car protected means one less thing to worry about. Get in touch with your agent today and make sure your car insurance policy has you covered in the event of an accident.

Looking for more resources in case the unexpected happens to your vehicle? Check out our Car Accident Hub for more helpful articles like this.

This article is for informational purposes only and includes information widely available through different sources. This article does not afford, offer, or guarantee any coverage.

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