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It can be tempting to think of parking lot accidents as minor fender benders not worth your time and worry or even having insurance over. But the reality is, these incidents can often be just as serious as any other car accident—and in some cases, even more so. That’s why you must know what to do if you are ever involved in a parking lot accident.

The reality of parking lot accidents

A red car involved in an accident, potentially a parking lot accident.
Car accident | Getty Images

Unlikely as it may seem, parking lot accidents occur frequently and can often be severe. These accidents are uniquely crazy since – in addition to the Vehicles going in every which direction, you also have pedestrians walking around, people backing out of parking spots, and all sorts of other obstacles. As a result, parking lot accidents tend to be hit-and-run incidents more often than not.

According to CBS News reports, over 20 percent of all car accidents occur in parking lots, accounting for around 50,000 car accidents each year, hundreds of deaths, and thousands of injuries. These figures make you wonder what you should do in the event of a parking lot accident. Here are six helpful tips.

1. Don’t leave the scene

It is probably the most crucial rule of thumb when dealing with car accidents, no matter where they occur. You might feel tempted to drive away from the scene, especially if the damages appear minor. But it’s important to know that leaving the scene of an accident is a crime in all 50 states.

Driving away without informing the authorities could be interpreted in court as a hit-and-run, which opens you up to other legal issues. Therefore, always do what is honest and stick around. You will save yourself a lot of trouble this way. 

2. Get out of harm’s way

Remember, even the most minor parking lot accident can scatter broken glass and block traffic. Therefore, ensure your car’s safety by moving it to a safer distance, where you do not block traffic or increase the likelihood of another accident. If you can’t, turn on your hazard lights to warn other drivers of the potential danger.

3. Try to locate the car’s owner

Once you are out of harm’s way, the next step is to find the car’s owner. If the driver is not in their vehicle, ask anyone around for their whereabouts.

4. Leave a note

If you can’t locate the other driver, your next course of action is to leave a note. Include your name, phone number, and a polite brief explanation of what transpired. Make the note conspicuous by securing it on the windshield or another place where it won’t get blown away.

Remember, not leaving a note after an accident might be considered a hit-and-run in most states. Therefore, always leave one behind and take pictures of the damage if you have a camera on your phone.

5. Consider calling the police

While it’s not always necessary to involve the police, depending on the accident’s severity, it may be a good idea. If anyone is injured or there is extensive damage to either vehicle, you will want to file an incident report, which will come in handy when dealing with your insurance company.

6. Call your insurance agent

Even if the damages appear minor, it’s always a good idea to call your insurance company and let them know what happened. Erie Insurance will advise you on the best course of action and help you through the process of filing a claim.

What if someone hits your parked car?

Typically the auto insurance of the at-fault drivers should cover any damages they caused. However, if you come back to your parked car and find it damaged in a hit-and-run, the first thing to do is to locate any nearby witnesses or surveillance cameras. The footage could help identify the driver who hit you. You should also file an insurance claim as soon as possible and take pictures of the damages if possible.


6 Easy Ways to Avoid a Getting Into a Car Accident