Date Published: 2024/05/02

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Accidents happen: Your guide to dealing with parking lot accidents

A car crashed into another car reversing out of a parking spot.

Picture this: you've just finished shopping and are heading back to your car in the bustling parking lot. As you carefully maneuver through the rows of vehicles, a sudden jolt startles you. Your heart sinks as you realize what's happened – a parking lot accident.

In the chaos of a parking lot, accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. From minor fender benders to more serious collisions, these incidents can leave drivers feeling stressed and uncertain about the next steps to take. However, knowing how to handle a parking lot crash is essential for ensuring everyone's safety and achieving a timely resolution.

In this article, we'll explore practical steps to take when you find yourself involved in a parking lot accident. 

Parking lot accidents: What to do when you’re involved in one

1. Stay calm and check for injuries.

In the immediate aftermath of a parking lot accident, it's essential to stay calm. Check yourself and any passengers for injuries. If anyone in your vehicle or the other vehicles involved requires medical attention, call 911 immediately. Your well-being and the safety of others should be your top priority.

2. Avoid admitting fault or placing blame.

While it's natural to want to discuss what happened, avoid admitting fault or placing blame at the scene. Instead, focus on gathering information and ensuring everyone's safety. Admitting fault prematurely, even through a simple apology, can complicate matters during the insurance claims process.

3. Assess the damage and take photos.

Evaluate the damage to your vehicle and the other vehicles involved. Take photos of the accident scene, including the position of the cars and any damages to vehicles and surrounding property. These photos will serve as valuable evidence during the claim resolution process.

4. Move vehicles if it's safe to do so.

If the vehicles are obstructing traffic and it's safe to do so, move them to a less busy area of the parking lot. This will help prevent further accidents and make it easier to complete the next step, exchanging information. Only move vehicles after you’ve taken photos of the accident scene.

5. Exchange information.

Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver or drivers involved in the accident. Be sure to get their: 

  • name, 
  • phone number, 
  • address, 
  • driver's license number, 
  • license plate number, 
  • and insurance policy details. 

Ask any witnesses of the accident for their names and contact information as well.

If you accidentally hit a parked car in a parking lot or on the street, wait for the other driver to get back to their car so you can exchange information. Remember, it is a criminal offence under Canada’s Criminal Code to flee the scene of an accident.1 

If you can’t find the other driver, leave a note with your: 

  • name, 
  • contact information, 
  • driver’s license number, 
  • and license plate number. 

Place the note in a visible location on the parked car, such as under the windshield wiper. Take plenty of photos of the accident scene, including any damage to vehicles and surrounding property.

6. Determine if you need to file a police report.

Depending on the severity of the accident and the extent of damages or injuries, you may need to file a police report. In certain provinces, including Alberta, Ontario and Nova Scotia, you must file a police report when the damage to both vehicles surpasses $2,000. Most provinces do not require a police report if the damages are less than $1,000. 

If there are injuries or significant property damage, or if you suspect the other driver is intoxicated or did something illegal to cause the accident, contact the police. You should also contact the police if the accident involves an unlicensed or uninsured driver. 

7. Notify your insurer.

Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to report the incident. Provide them with all the relevant details, including: 

  • the location, 
  • date and time of the accident, 
  • and information you gathered from the other driver or drivers involved. 

Prompt communication can help expedite the claims process and ensure a timely resolution. Review your policy so you know what you are covered for.

8. Go to the doctor if you suspect you have accident-related injuries.

Sometimes, injuries sustained in a parking lot accident may not be immediately apparent. If you experience any pain or discomfort in the days following the accident, don't hesitate to seek medical attention. Document any accident-related doctor appointments and treatments, and keep your insurer informed. 

Parking lot accidents can be stressful and inconvenient, but knowing how to handle them can make all the difference. 

Remember to:

  • stay calm, 
  • prioritize safety, 
  • collect information,
  • and communicate effectively with your insurance company. 

At Orbit Insurance Services, we understand the importance of having the right coverage to protect you and your vehicle in an accident. Our team of experienced insurance brokers is here to help you find the right coverage for your needs and budget. If you're shopping for car insurance, call an Orbit insurance broker for a free personalized quote.

If you're a current Orbit customer and have questions about your current car insurance policy or want to discuss your coverage options, contact your broker today!

  1. Government of Canada