Parking lot crashes are surprisingly common

You probably seldom have second thoughts about using a parking lot or a downtown parking garage. Every day, perhaps several times a day, you enter a parking lot. After you conclude your visit, you back out safely and drive home.

Your experience is typical for most Americans on most days; however, parking lots are not as safe as they appear. You might be shocked to know that for every five car accidents, one of them occurs in a parking lot.

Steps to take in a low-impact parking-lot accident

Usually, people are driving slowly enough in lots that most accidents seem insignificant. Perhaps no one appears hurt. As doctors and hospitals know all too well, there is no such thing as a "minor" vehicle accident. If someone hits your vehicle in a parking lot, follow these steps:

  • If anyone in your vehicle suffers injury or pain, call for an ambulance.
  • Call the police and file an accident report. Physical pain ordamage can appear days or weeks later. You will have a hard time proving that a parking-lot collision caused your delayed injury if you have no report of the accident. If the airbags deployed, make sure that it is on the police report.
  • Ask bystanders if they would act as witnesses. If they agree, ask for their contact information.
  • Do not admit fault or argue with the other driver. Phone your insurance company to report the accident but do not discuss fault.
  • Exchange insurance and driver's license information. Get photos of the damage, if any, to each vehicle. Take a picture of the other car's license plates and vehicle surfaces. Take pictures of broken glass, broken auto parts or pavement marks.
  • If the other car has passengers, describe them by gender and approximate age.

Injuries and fatalities can occur in parking-lot crashes

The National Safety Council estimates that well over 100,000 crashes occur each year in parking-garage structures or parking lots. Since people often do not report minor accidents, the number of annual crashes could be much higher. Not surprisingly, accidents usually increase during national holidays, when people are rushing to shop for gifts or last-minute party supplies.

You may not think you will ever need these steps, but due to the high number of parking-lot accidents, it might be a good idea to keep this information in your vehicle.

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