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Car park accidents are an all too common occurrence. With so many vehicles in one space, it can be easy to accidentally hit something while running for your weekly shop. 

Whether you’re a learner or a seasoned motorist, you need to ensure that your vehicle is covered, be that with an annual policy, or temporary car insurance. Many drivers are unaware of car park accident law, leaving them unprepared to handle an incident. And there’s nothing worse than returning to see your car has been hit in a car park and no note has been left.

How to Avoid an Accident in a Car Park

Car parks are often busy and cramped, which is why they can be a hotbed for prangs. Avoiding a car park accident is crucial when it comes to keeping your premiums low and protecting your no-claims discount, which is why we’ve pulled together some helpful tips to protect you and your car from damage, wherever you may be.

Keep Your Speed Low

We get it, you’re in a rush and spaces seem few and far between. But car park speed limits are low for a reason. It only takes a second for a car to pull out from a spot, leaving you with a heap of damage.

Busy car parks mean a lot of pedestrians moving in and around vehicles. It’s best to avoid speeding around corners so you have plenty of time to check that it’s safe. Getting in and out of vehicles can also cause damage. So before you swing your car door open it’s a good idea to check that there are no obstacles nearby.

Check Your Surroundings

With so many hazards, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings. Whether you’re chatting to passengers or blasting your favourite songs, make sure you stay alert. Many car parks are extremely tight on space, with bays crammed together – don’t allow yourself to get distracted. 

Park Strategically

If possible, try to park away from any potential hazards. This isn’t always possible, but keeping a safe distance from other cars can limit the chance of you having a bump. Try to park where there are open spaces on either side to avoid the chance of you hitting another car or van.

Even if the car park is close to full, there are still options you can consider. If a space is tight, it may be best to look elsewhere. Spaces with two large cars on either side could lead to banged-up doors, so best to find a spot better suited for your vehicle. 

Who Is At Fault In a Car Park Accident?

There’s one question that everyone asks following an accident in a car park – ‘who is at fault?’ The answer isn’t always straightforward. So before passing judgement, it’s best to calmly assess the situation to avoid a dispute. Generally, if a car is moving and another is stationary, it’d be assumed that the vehicle in motion is at fault. This, however, isn’t a hard-and-fast rule and every incident is different.

When a Car Hits a Pedestrian

Pedestrians are just as at risk of being injured in car park accidents. While the driver is usually held at fault, pedestrians don’t always have the right of way. Insurers will always consider which party is breaking the law or acting carelessly when assessing a case.

Examples of negligence on either side include – the driver speeding or using their phone whilst driving. Or, the pedestrian not paying attention to their surroundings or running out in front of a car.

Even if a driver is travelling at the speed limit, they may still be at fault. Drivers are expected to constantly be aware of their surroundings, so if they’re not paying attention to potential hazards, they can be liable.

When One Car Is Parked

Hitting a parked car is the fault of the driver in the moving vehicle.

Whether they’ve rear-ended a vehicle, clipped a wing mirror or hit a car door while getting out, it’s fairly clear who is to blame in this scenario.

When Both Cars Are Moving

With so many cars moving in and out of a small area it’s no wonder that accidents in car parks are so frequent. If both cars are moving, then both may be to blame. However, the driver backing out is usually the one responsible as cars driving in the main lanes tend to have the right of way. 

If two cars collide while heading for the same spot, then they may both be liable. But as the driver on the left has the right of way, the car turning into traffic will likely be seen as being at fault.

What Should You Do Following a Car Park Accident?

There are a few steps that you are legally required to take following a traffic collision, regardless of where it takes place.

Here are the steps you need to follow immediately after a collision:

  • Stop at the scene: Regardless of who is at fault, it is a legal requirement to stop at the scene. Not doing so is an offence and you could be charged.
  • Switch off your engine and turn on hazard lights: This is for the safety of the drivers, passengers and other road users.
  • Check for damages: This includes damages to the car as well as injuries to you, other parties, and road users.

What Details Should I Exchange Following An Accident?

It’s very important to exchange details following an accident. This can help you to stay in touch with the other party throughout the claims process. All parties are legally required to share their name and address but you may also choose to exchange insurance information.

It’s important to find out whether the other driver is the registered owner of the vehicle. If they’re not, then find out who the owner is and try to get that information too. Keep a note of the make, model, colour and number plate of the vehicle involved or take pictures for reference. If a lorry is involved try to record the number on both the lorry and its trailer, as well as the name of the company it operates for.

What Else Should You Record At The Accident Scene?

Accidents in a car park are usually quite minor, but it’s a good idea to make note of any important details of the event. Making note of a few key things can help with the ongoing investigation and speed up the claims process. 

You should note:

  • The time and date of the crash.
  • The driving conditions at the time, including the weather, lighting and road surface (for example if it was muddy or uneven terrain).
  • The level of damage to the vehicle and where it was located.
  • Any injuries to either the driver, passengers or pedestrians.
  • The contact details of any witnesses.
  • If possible, try to take pictures of the scene, including the positions of the cars and the extent of the damage.

What To Do When a Driver Doesn’t Leave a Note

It’s a legal requirement to leave details following an accident. Fail to do so and you could face legal action. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen, and many drivers have returned to their parked cars to find them damaged with no way to contact the driver at fault.

If a driver leaves without providing contact details then there are a few steps you can take to solve the issue. If you have an accident in a supermarket car park (or somewhere similar) you can ask the company to access their CCTV files to see if they have any evidence to help you find the driver. Whether you can find the driver or not, you should report the incident to the police as a hit and run.

Accidents can come out of nowhere. Staying alert behind the wheel is crucial, whether you’re on the road or in a car park. But even the best drivers can’t escape the odd bump now and then. That’s why it’s important to be protected should the worst happen. 

Whether you’re a learner looking to get a few extra hours of practice, or borrowing a friend’s car for a quick trip. Protect the car owner’s no-claims discount with fully comprehensive, temporary cover to save you stress and avoid costly premiums.

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