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Parking lots and car accidents: A quick guide

Believe it or not, the holiday season is already starting for a lot of shoppers -- it will kick off in earnest probably early in October.

For a lot of people, that means a lot of trips to stores -- which also means contending with parking lots that are overcrowded and complicated to navigate.

So, what do you do if you end up in an accident with a pedestrian or another car? Here's a quick list you can follow:

  1. If you bump a pedestrian that you swear wasn't there a second before you moved, be especially cautious if he or she offers to settle for cash instead of calling the police and raising your insurance rates. Scam artists actually stalk motorists during the holiday season intent on taking as much cash as they can for fake accidents. Insist on calling the police instead and see what happens.
  2. If the other car's owner isn't available, write a note. Include your contact information -- but be sure to snap a quick photo of the car's license plate and the damage you did, just in case it becomes an issue down the line.
  3. If the other driver is there, realize that some municipalities won't send the police to respond to parking lot accidents unless someone is actually injured or there's a dispute. Take photos of both vehicles and exchange your insurance information and contact information with the other driver. Contact your insurance agent right away for further directions.
  4. If you're injured, either while in your vehicle or while walking through the lot, call 911 and request the police and an ambulance. If you were hit hard enough to get knocked off your feet or your head snapped forward and back with the jolt of the car, you could be seriously hurt. A temporary rush of adrenaline may be masking the full extent of your injuries.

If you are the victim of a parking lot injury, talk to an attorney today. Don't assume that a lack of witnesses or the low-speed impact means that you don't have a valid car accident claim.

Source: State Farm, "How to Deal with Parking Lot Accidents," accessed Sep. 08, 2017

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