Parking lot crashes are extremely common. According to data from the National Safety Council (NSC) and CBS News, approximately 20 percent of all car accidents occur in parking lots. While many of these accidents are fairly minor—resulting in property damage only—the NSC reports that as many as 60,000 people get injured and 500 people die in parking lot crashes each year.
If you are dealing with the aftermath of a parking lot crash, it is important to ensure that you have a clear understanding of what you should do (and what you should not do) next. Whether you have a property damage claim only or you need to seek financial compensation for catastrophic injuries or wrongful death, you must be careful to protect your legal rights. With this in mind, here is an overview of what you need to know:
Gathering Evidence and Information at the Crash Site
As with any other type of car accident, after an accident in a parking lot, it is important to try to collect as much evidence and information as possible. The main way you can collect evidence is by taking lots of photos and videos with your phone. You should take photos and videos to thoroughly document the damage to each vehicle, and you should photograph the area surrounding the crash site as well. In particular, you should try to take photos and videos of:
- All other vehicles in surrounding area at the time of the crash
- Any pavement markings and signs
- Trees, lamp posts and any other items that may have obstructed your (or the other driver’s) vision
- The general layout of the section of the parking lot where the crash occurred
- The condition of the pavement (including whether the pavement was wet or cracked)
Along with documenting the crash site, you should try to gather as much other information as you can as well. For example, following a parking lot crash, you will want to try to collect:
- The other driver’s license plate information
- The other driver’s insurance information
- Names and contact information for any witnesses
- Your copy of the police report (in Florida, you must report all car accidents resulting in injuries or apparent property damage of $500 or more)
- The name of the business that owns or operates the parking lot
Taking Care of Your Needs
After gathering evidence and information at the crash site (if possible), your next priority should be to take care of your needs. Most immediately, this means seeing a doctor about any injuries you suffered in the crash. Seeking treatment promptly is important for several reasons—including reasons related to your health and related to protecting your legal rights.
If you need to take time off from work to recover, you will want to contact your employer sooner rather than later. If you have questions about how to handle this, you can contact a lawyer for advice. You will want to contact a lawyer promptly for other reasons as well, including (but not limited to):
- Gathering Additional Evidence of Liability – According to the NSC, distracted driving is among the most common causes of parking lot accidents. If the driver who hit you or your loved one was distracted, your lawyer can obtain the driver’s cell phone records to prove liability. Depending on the circumstances involved, your lawyer may need to collect various other forms of evidence as well.
- Documenting the Costs of the Accident – After a parking lot crash, it is critical to ensure that you seek the full compensation you deserve. Your lawyer can help you understand the long-term financial and non-financial costs of the accident, and your lawyer can help you document these costs so that you can recover just compensation.
- Reporting the Accident – If you haven’t already reported the parking lot accident to the police, your lawyer can help you file a report with the FLHSMV. Your lawyer can help you deal with your insurance company as well. Under Florida’s “no fault” insurance law, your personal injury protection (PIP) policy is your first source of financial recovery after an accident, and most insurance companies require drivers to report all accidents promptly.
- Avoiding Costly Mistakes – Even if you are clearly entitled to financial compensation for your (or your loved one’s) parking lot accident, you can lose your legal rights if you make costly mistakes. When you hire an experienced lawyer to represent you, your lawyer will explain both what to do and what not to do in order to maximize your chances of securing a full recovery.
- Determining What Claim(s) To File – While filing a PIP claim is generally your first option, it might not be your only option after a parking lot crash. From filing a claim against a negligent driver to filing a claim against the owner of the parking lot, you may have various other options as well.
Filing a Claim for Financial Compensation
Regardless of what type of claim (or claims) you can file, you will need to make smart decisions in order to protect your legal rights. Filing a successful claim is not easy. It requires perseverance, patience and a clear understanding of how Florida law applies to your individual circumstances.
In general, it is best to file your claim (or claims) as soon as possible. But, you also need to avoid settling too soon. As you move through the claim process, you will need to work closely with your lawyer to ensure that you are making the right decisions every step of the way. While parking lot crashes can lead to pain and financial losses, a crash shouldn’t take control of your life. Instead, you should take control of the process, and this starts with hiring a lawyer who knows how to win the compensation you deserve.
Speak with a Lawyer About Your Legal Rights After a Parking Lot Accident in Florida
If you need to know more about how to deal with a parking lot accident in Florida, we encourage you to contact us promptly. For a free, no-obligation consultation, call 800-780-8607 or tell us how we can reach you online now.