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If you have ever had an accident with another vehicle in a parking lot you know how frustrating it can be.  Few people understand that most parking lots are private property.  Which means the police will not respond to a minor accident unless there is bodily injury or the property damage exceeds $1,000.  (It is amazing how frequently police estimate damage at less then $1,000) The way most claims get settled is that each driver files a claim with their own insurance company to repair the damages to their own vehicle.  Sometimes this is the only way to settle a claim.  For example if two cars are backing up from opposite spots and the back into each other.  This is a case where both drivers are at fault and the only way to settle the claim is to have each insurance company pay for their own car.  Keep in mind, if you are backing up and you hit something, it is probably your fault.


If you are involved in an accident while driving in a parking lot here are some things you can do to help ensure the best outcome:

1)  Keep your cool!  Your car is damaged.  Getting mad will not fix it.  Keep your cool and take the steps necessary to ensure the best outcome for everyone.
2)  Grab a witness!  Find someone who saw the incident and get their contact information.  Insurance companies will take the testimony of an uninterested third party over their own customer who has had an accident most of the time.
3)  Never agree to pay or accept payment from someone in cash.  Auto damage is expensive and that scratch on the bumper that one person thinks will cost $200 to fix really costs $1200 at the body shop because they have to replace the bumper cover and the bumper mounts etc...  This leads to the guilty party thinking they are being taken advantage of and delays the repairs to your car.  Sometimes people will discover injuries after the fact and if you have paid for property damage you may have accepted liability for the bodily injury loss plus, you may have just voided your insurance policy.  So, don't pay out of pocket and don't accept payments.
4)  Get insurance information from the other party and share your insurance information.  Don't worry, you will get a chance to tell your side of the story.  The other party cannot file a claim and get paid without your insurance company trying to get your side of the story.
5)  If the other guy won't share insurance information you can go to the DMV and file an accident report (FR200).  If you have the license plate of the other driver the DMV will track them down and require them to provide insurance information or their license will be suspended.
6)  Take pictures!  Smart Phones are everywhere these days. Remember, "A picture is worth a thousand words".  So, take as many pictures as you can.  Try to get a shot of the other driver if you can.  Get shots of both cars, the license plate of the other car and the area where the accident took place.  These pictures can go along way toward supporting your side of what happened.

Parking lots are dangerous places.  People are in a hurry and they often are not looking where they are going.  You are much more likely to have an accident in a parking lot then you are on the interstate.  If you do have an accident in a parking lot don't get mad, just keep your cool and take the steps to ensure that you will have the best outcome.
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