Now that we’re firmly in the holiday season, it seems that everyone is out shopping for those deals and must-have presents.  This means that parking lots are going to see a lot more action this month – and a lot more accidents.  Parking lots have some unique features that may affect how fault is assigned and how your insurance carrier may or may not pay if you have an accident.  We’ll break down what makes parking lot accidents different, some tips on how to avoid them, and what to do if you have one.

Private Property

Most mall and shop parking lots are on private property, and are not a public roadway, so police will not come to do an accident report.  The security team responsible for that parking lot may be able to access video footage of the accident. 

Parking lanes vs through lanes

Most parking lots have parking lanes, giving access to each parking spot, and through lanes, going around the perimeter of the lot and connecting to public roads.  Traffic in a parking lane should always yield to traffic in a through lane, even if there are no stop or yield signs.


Under the doctrine of negligence, drivers have a responsibility to make sure the parking lane is clear before leaving a spot, and to yield to traffic in the parking lane.  Negligence becomes harder to determine when two cars are backing out simultaneously or trying to enter the same spot from different directions.

Assigning Fault

When an insurance carrier receives a claim involving a parking lot accident, they’ll want to interview both drivers (and witnesses, if any), and inspect the damage to both vehicles, to help determine who is at fault.  It is very likely that fault will be shared by both drivers, with each insurance carrier paying for the other driver’s damages.

Parking lot claims can be messy and frustrating, but following these tips can help minimize your chances of being in one.

When backing out:

  • Honk before you start to move
  • Turn fully around to look behind you, in addition to checking mirrors
  • If it’s not too cold, roll down a window to listen for approaching vehicles or pedestrians
  • Don’t rely solely on backup cameras or collision avoidance technology

When driving down a parking lane:

  • Go slow!  If you think you’re running late now, wait until you have to stop everything to deal with an accident.
  • Stay alert for pedestrians and reverse lights
  • Don’t assume someone backing out will stop for you, even though you have the right of way

Sometimes, even when you try your best, an accident is unavoidable.  If you should get into a parking lot accident, consider these steps.

Stay calm.  Accidents can bring out the worst in people, so try to stay cool.  If at any time you feel threatened, call the police.  Take a few deep breaths and double-check that you don’t feel any neck or back pain, and check your passengers as well.

Communicate.  Get the other party’s name, number, insurance carrier, and policy number, and share your information with them.  Do NOT assume blame for the accident or apologize.

Take pictures.  Snap shots of any damage on both vehicles, as well as any contributing environmental factors.

Find witnesses.  Make sure you get the names and numbers of any bystanders who saw what happened.

Contact us.  As with any accident, it’s your responsibility to contact your agent, even if think you might not file a claim.  Your agent will want to know the time, date, and location of the accident, which car you were driving, and the name, number, insurance carrier, and policy number of the other party.

File a claim.  When an accident results in major property or vehicle damage, injuries, or a dispute between the parties involved, filing a claim may be the best course of action.  We’ll help you get a claim started and connect you with the claims professionals who work for your specific insurance carrier.

Insure With the People You Trust

As a family-run small business, we focus on the personal relationships we build with each client.  When something goes wrong, you need to speak to a knowledgeable insurance agent, but you want to talk to a friend.  At Kasmann Insurance Agency, you have both!  Don’t wait until an accident happens to contact us or call us at 573-442-1105.  We’ll make sure you’re prepared for whatever life might throw at you, with customized products for Auto, Home, Umbrella, Life, Business, and beyond.

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