Parking Lot Accidents 101: They’re More Common Than You Think


Accidents can be extremely stress-inducing, even when it’s just a moving vehicle against a parked car. No matter how benign the encounter, there will be some information that requires assessment.

Below, we have outlined the different types of accident scenarios as well as who may be at fault for each of them. Then, we will cover the actions that should be taken following an accident. Finally, we will provide you with a set of tips that will help you avoid parking lot accidents.

Common Parking Lot Scenarios:

  • Reversing at the same time as another vehicle
    • This is a common scenario. Each car is pulling away from a parking spot and so each one of the drivers is responsible for checking space prior to movement. In this situation, both drivers are responsible for the collision.
  • When a driver reverses into a traffic lane
    • In this situation, both cars are responsible as each is moving. Cars who are already in motion have the right of away; so, if a vehicle is pulling out of a parking spot and causes a collision, it is likely the fault will fall upon the vehicle that disrupted the flow of traffic.
  • Collision following an attempt to gain the same parking space
    • There may be occasions when two vehicles hurriedly attempt to gain a prime parking spot and collide. Again, both vehicles are in motion in this scenario and so both vehicles are at fault. However, there are multiple factors which may affect fault. For example, if a vehicle is making a left turn into a parking spot when a vehicle on the opposite side of the road is making a right into a parking spot, fault will likely be cast on the vehicle making the left.

What to Do if You Find You Hit Another Car:

  • First, stay put. Put your car in park and get out of the vehicle so long as it is safe.
  • If you have initiated the accident, take the time to track down the information of the other vehicle’s owner. Remember: surveillance cameras are everywhere!
  • If there is no one to be found, take out a piece of paper along with a pen and write down your vehicle and insurance information, along with a phone number so you may be contacted.
  • If the accident is severe, call 911 – a police report will help you in the long run.

What to Do if Your Car is Hit:

  • If you did not cause the accident and encounter your damaged vehicle in a parking lot, contact your insurance company. Your insurance agent will assist with next steps.
  • Always document the damage – take as many photos as you can from different angles.
  • If there are potential witnesses, inquire with them and request statements along with contact information.

How to Avoid Parking Lot Accidents:

  • Don’t rush! Take your time when pulling in and out of parking spaces.
  • Make sure your mirrors provide you with the right visibility. Make the right adjustments before you pull out of a parking spot.
  • Look behind your shoulders – always! Blind spots exist; don’t forget this.
  • Use the technology available within your vehicle; cameras are helpers.

Parking lot accidents, like any accident, can create a wealth of stress. However, with a few important points to keep in mind, you will know how to handle these situations expertly. Remember, accidents are just that – an unfortunate incident that happens without ill intent. So, to handle these situations appropriately, employ pragmatic steps that will help you move forward. Most importantly, take your time, use all safety features available, and employ caution!  

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