Parking Lot Auto Accidents
You make a quick run to your local grocery store after work to pick up a few items you’ll need for dinner. You get in and out of the store without too much waiting or hassle despite it being that time of day when everyone seems to need bread and eggs. You walk to your car, start it up, and pull out of your parking space. As you edge toward the parking lot exit, another driver is backing out of a parking space and doesn’t see you. Before you know it, the other driver is colliding with you. You feel a shaken, but you were wearing your seat belt and don’t think you’re hurt, and there doesn’t appear to be any damage to your car.
Under circumstances like that, a lot of people would shrug off an auto accident because it was in a private parking lot and you don’t think you have an insurance claim, but even a low-speed crash in a parking lot should be taken seriously by both drivers. Just because your car isn’t dented and you don’t immediately feel injured doesn’t mean no damage was done to your car or to you. Sometimes, injuries to your back or neck may not manifest or become painful until several days after a collision, and you may find that there’s hidden damage to the structure or undercarriage of your vehicle even if it doesn’t look damaged from the outside.
If you were injured in a car crash in a parking lot, you may be able to recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, disability and disfigurement, pain and suffering, and loss of normal life because of your injuries. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you figure out what options you might have for compensation and what to expect from the process.
Steps to Take After a Parking Lot Collision
When you’re involved in a collision in a parking lot, these are some good things to remember:
- Make sure you and the other driver or individual are okay — If anyone involved in the accident needs medical treatment, seek that immediately. Once you’ve received treatment for any injuries, you can deal with any other issues.
- Get to a safe place — If your car remains drivable, you want to get it out of the way of other traffic. Pull off to the side somewhere where you and the other driver can exchange information.
- Report the accident — Illinois requires that you report any accident that results in death or injury, or when property damage exceeds $500. Even though the accident is on private property and the damage doesn’t seem like it meets the threshold to report it to police, you may discover later that you are in fact injured or that there’s more damage than you thought. It’s better to err on the side of caution and report the crash. If you don’t report the accident and it does meet the criteria for reporting, you can be fined or even imprisoned for leaving the scene of an accident. Further, failing to report the accident might hinder your chances at recovering any damages through an insurance claim.
- Exchange contact and insurance information — Any time you’re in an auto collision, even if it seems like no damage was done, always get the other driver’s name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, license plate number, and insurance information. You can’t make an insurance claim later if you don’t have the information to do so.
- Take photos and get witness information — If you’re injured or there is visible damage to your car, take pictures if you have a camera or a cell phone with a camera on you at the time. You may need those as evidence of your injuries or damages later. Also talk to anyone who might have seen the accident and get their names, address, phone numbers, and email addresses.
- Report the accident to your insurance company — Even if the other person is at fault for the crash, you may need your insurance to cover your bills until you can settle a claim with the other driver’s insurance, or to cover your damages if the other driver is uninsured or underinsured. If you don’t report the accident to your insurance company, that may give them grounds to deny your claim later on.
- Talk to a Chicago auto accident attorney — An experienced personal injury lawyer can take the reins early on to investigate your accident and help you with the process of making a claim so that you can focus on recovering, getting your car fixed, and getting your life back to normal.