We often think about car accidents happening on the road, but they frequently occur in parking lots as well.
Distracted drivers, confusing parking lot designs, lack of maintenance, and other issues can contribute to a parking lot collision, leaving you with medical bills, lost income, a wrecked car, and other damages. Yet seeking compensation can become complicated if the at-fault party disagrees about who is to blame.
The insurance company may be equally unhelpful, but your bills aren’t going anywhere. What can you do?
How Can a Denver Parking Lot Car Accident Attorney Help?
Determining liability in a parking lot accident can be challenging, especially when the drivers have different memories of what happened. There may be no other witnesses, or the witnesses may also have varying recollections.
Additionally, local law enforcement typically will not complete reports on minor accidents in parking lots. They will usually respond if someone is hurt or there is serious property damage, but sometimes, people don’t realize they’re injured until later.
Body damage to a car can also be much more expensive than it initially appears.
All these factors can make it difficult to file an insurance claim after a parking lot accident. However, a Denver car accident lawyer can help you identify the liable party or parties, gather evidence, show who was at fault, and demonstrate that your injuries were caused by the accident.
If you have questions or concerns about your parking lot accident in Denver or the surrounding areas, please contact Olson Law Firm for a free consultation.
What Should You Do After a Parking Lot Accident?
Pull your car out of traffic to avoid further collisions, then check yourself and your passengers for injuries. Remember that not all car accident injuries cause symptoms immediately, so if you initially feel normal but develop pain or discomfort later, see a healthcare provider and tell them about the accident.
If you are not seriously injured, exit the car and exchange insurance and contact info with the other driver. To avoid altercations, we recommend being polite but direct—don’t get sidetracked into arguments about fault, which can escalate; sometimes, people inadvertently say things that are later misinterpreted to imply fault.
Take pictures of everything at the scene, starting with the damage to your car. Capture both vehicles from all angles, even areas that don’t appear damaged.
You never know what might be important. Additionally, it’s helpful to get pictures of the surrounding area, including any signs or arrows and skid marks or debris on the ground.
Call the police to report the accident, even if they don’t come to the scene. If the police don’t respond, follow up by filing your own report online—you can find instructions here.
Contact a lawyer immediately to learn the best options for pursuing compensation in your case.
Who Is at Fault for a Parking Lot Accident?
As with any other accident, the party who is most responsible for causing the accident is considered to be at fault or liable in a parking lot collision. However, many people don’t realize there are potentially several liable parties in these situations:
- The other driver may be at fault. Sometimes, people assume it’s safe to text and drive in a parking lot because of the slower speeds. Or, maybe they’re in a hurry and don’t look thoroughly behind them before backing out of a parking space. If another driver’s negligence caused the crash, they could be at fault.
- The property owner might be liable. In some cases, an accident can be traced to poor parking lot maintenance or design. For example, if a significant pothole or defect in the pavement caused your crash, the owner may be liable. In other cases, the parking lot is designed in a confusing way or with poor visibility, leading to an accident.
- Is the property owner responsible if you skid on ice or snow? Under Colorado law, property owners have a responsibility to take “reasonable care” to clear ice and snow out of parking lots, lay down salt, and ensure the cleared precipitation doesn’t melt and refreeze, causing another obstacle. If we can show that the property owner’s efforts didn’t live up to “reasonable care” standards and that the ice or snow caused your accident, you might have a case against the property owner.
- The city or local government might be responsible in some cases. In general, it’s difficult to sue governmental agencies. However, in some situations, the city may be liable if you were in a public parking lot under their jurisdiction. We will need to show the city should have made a reasonable effort to improve safety in the affected lot.
What if You Can’t Prove Fault in Your Parking Lot Accident?
First, we encourage you to speak with an attorney to ensure that’s true. Frequently, our investigators find additional evidence to help support your case.
We may visit the parking lot, talk to people who work in nearby stores or buildings, and search for witnesses. At the same time, we’ll look for cameras—security, doorbell, or traffic cameras sometimes capture video of an accident.
However, it’s essential to understand that these videos are rapidly deleted to free up storage space, so the sooner you call us, the better the chances we can find more evidence in your case.
Sometimes, unfortunately, there isn’t enough evidence to prove another party was at fault. If so, we’ll look for alternatives to recover some or all of your damages.
First, we’ll review your own car insurance policy. Unfortunately, if you have the bare minimum of liability coverage, your own damages will not be covered; liability insurance will, however, pay for another motorist’s damages up to the policy limit if there is evidence you were at fault.
If you have Collision insurance, this will usually pay for your car repairs. The nice thing about Collision is that it covers damage to your vehicle without needing to prove fault.
When you suffer injuries in a parking lot accident, and you have Medical Payments or MedPay coverage, this will pay for your medical expenses up to the policy limit. Again, you don’t need to prove fault, only that you were injured in the accident.
Occasionally, the insurance adjuster may argue that you weren’t injured in the parking lot crash but were hurt elsewhere. If you encounter this difficulty, we may be able to help you provide additional documentation to the insurance company.
What if You and the Other Party Were Both at Fault?
This happens in many accidents, in and out of parking lots. Colorado’s modified comparative negligence laws allow an injured party to recover damages if they are less than 50 percent at fault.
The insurance company can, however, reduce your payout based on your percentage of fault. But who decides that?
The insurance adjuster does, in most cases.
If you and another driver are in an accident, and you both file claims on each other’s liability insurance, the two insurance companies will negotiate with each other. When you both have the same insurance company, two different insurance adjusters are assigned.
Eventually, they’ll work out who pays for what. Unfortunately, this sometimes means that one driver is assigned more fault than they had or assigned some fault when they didn’t contribute to the accident at all.
Trying to argue your case to the insurance company on your own is challenging and frequently unsuccessful. In some circumstances, you might make things worse—again, anything you say could be misconstrued and used against you later.
This is why we recommend seeking help from a legal expert for your parking lot accident case. Your attorney will immediately go to work gathering evidence to show you had no or very little fault in the collision.
If the insurance company has exaggerated your contributions to the crash, your lawyer will fight for a more reasonable estimate and a fair final settlement. We know all the tricks insurance companies use to reduce or avoid payouts, and we’ll strive to get the best possible deal for you.
Get Help From a Denver Parking Lot Car Accident Law Firm Today
If you or a loved one have been hurt in a parking lot accident, time to collect evidence and build a strong case may be limited. Please contact Olson Law Firm today to learn more about your situation and the possibilities for recovering your damages after your car accident.
There is no obligation, and you never pay anything until we win or settle your case.
Attorney Sean Olson founded Olson Law Firm in 2012 with the goal of helping injured people put their lives back together. He focuses on building people up and is always available to talk to clients.
After beginning his career in photojournalism, Mr. Olson studied law at the University of Denver’s Sturm College. He is now a member of the Colorado and Wyoming Bar Associations and has been a Super Lawyers Rising Star for five consecutive years.
In his spare time, he enjoys mountain biking, fly fishing, and spending time with his family. You can work with him and his expert team when you call (720) 730-4325.