There’s really no such thing as a good time and place for car accidents — but where your car accident occurs can have a tremendous impact on the outcome. When you picture a car accident in your mind, you most likely envision a collision on the road. While there are countless accidents on roads every year, causing varying degrees of damage and injury, auto collisions are not restricted exclusively to this setting. Another place where accidents can and do happen on a regular basis is in parking lots. And while on the surface these two settings may seem to have only minor, cosmetic differences, they are actually much, much more different than you might think.
How Parking Lots Differ from Road Car Accidents
Collisions and other car accidents that happen on roads are covered by the Ontario Highway Traffic Act. A parking lot, on the other hand, is private property and therefore is governed by a different set of rules, often enforced by the property owner. For minor accidents, the property owner may even use their own discretion about whether or not to involve the police. For more serious accidents, however, the police should always be notified, especially if the estimated damage exceeds $1,000.
Generally speaking, if you hit a parked car, you are considered at fault unless they had their door open and you struck the door—then they are at fault. If two moving vehicles collide with each other, there is a chance that both drivers will be declared as being at fault.
What to Do Following a Parking Lot Car Accident
While the setting of your car accident may impact how events unfold, your first steps following the collision should still be the same as they would be following any collision. Fortunately, thanks to modern cell phones, almost every person has a camera on them at all times. Using this, take pictures of the scene: the vehicles, with a focus on the areas damaged, the surroundings, and especially any injuries that may have been sustained as a result. If you are able to, take down as much information possible. Exchange info with the other driver—name, phone number, address, license plate, and insurance details—and record the circumstances of the accident so that the details are obscured by memory over time. Ask bystanders if they would be willing to act as witnesses should it become necessary, and collect their information as well. Even if the damage is not bad enough to warrant contacting the police, you should contact your insurance provider and a personal injury lawyer.