Woman using her smartphone to report a parking lot accident.

What to Know About Parking Lot Accidents in Michigan

We’ve all been there: maybe you begin to back out of your parking spot when another vehicles goes flying by you, crashing into the side of your car.  Or maybe, you come out of the store only to find the side of your truck smashed in with no note from the culprit in sight. Regardless of the manner in which it happens, many of us understand what it’s like to experience a parking lot accident. But here’s what you should know about parking lot accidents in Michigan.

Assigning Responsibility 

Unfortunately, there is no one law that is applicable to all parking lot accidents. Most parking lot accidents are minor in nature and do not result in serious, if any, injuries. However, if you are injured in such an accident, you may be covered for some or all of your medical expenses under your Michigan no-fault policy depending on the facts of your case.

The state of Michigan also has a mini-tort law (MCL 500.3135(3)(e)) that provides you with up to $1,000 for vehicle damages to the extent such damages are not covered by insurance. As a result of the recent reform of Michigan’s auto insurance laws, this amount is increasing to up to $3,000 for accidents occurring after July 1, 2020. It is also important to know that you will not be entitled to these damages if you were more than 50% at fault for the accident or if your vehicle was not insured as required by law.

Additionally, many parking lots are located on private property. However, even when this is the case you should call the police if someone is injured or if you have incurred more than $1,000 in vehicle or property damage. 

The Michigan auto no-fault laws can be extremely complicated, have many exceptions, and are quite often confusing. That’s why you should consult with a qualified Michigan no-fault attorney if you are injured. It’s important that you protect your rights. 

While parking lot accidents can occur in a number of ways, here are the most common types: 

Your car was damaged while you were inside a store or building.

Unfortunately, many parking lot accidents are essentially a version of a “hit-and-run” in which someone crashes into your car and flees the scene without leaving behind a note or any contact information to take responsibility for the damage. If you come out to your vehicle to discover someone has damaged it without leaving a note, it’s important that you:

  • Ask around for witnesses.
  • Check with the store or building as to whether they have surveillance video.
  • Document the damage to your car by taking pictures – and lots of them.
  • Make note of the parking lot location, time you arrived and parked, and time that you discovered the damage.
  • Call your insurance company to make a claim if you have collision coverage as part of your no-fault policy. However, sometimes it’s best to pay for minor repairs out-of-pocket as this can help to avoid a rate increase with your insurance.

Unfortunately, if you have neither the identity of the driver nor collision coverage, there is not much you can do. In this case, the cost of repairing the vehicle will fall on you.

You cause damage to an unoccupied car in a parking lot. 

Sometimes accidents happen and you’re the one at fault. If you cause damage to an unoccupied vehicle in a parking lot, it’s important that you take the following steps: 

  1. Do NOT leave the scene of the accident. 
  2. If the parking lot is only meant for one store, go inside and attempt to find the owner of the vehicle. 
  3. If the parking lot is intended for multiple stores, leave a note on the windshield of the vehicle that includes your contact information (e.g. your name and telephone number). 
  4. Take a ton of photos of the vehicle and the damage that you caused. 
  5. Document the exact parking lot, location in the parking lot, and time of the accident.

You are involved in a parking lot accident with a moving vehicle. 

If you are involved in a parking lot accident with a moving vehicle, it’s important that you follow these steps: 

  1. Call an ambulance if medical treatment is necessary 
  1. Call 9-1-1 if anyone is injured or if there is more than $1,000 in damage to the vehicle or other property.
  1. Exchange your information with the other driver(s).
  1. Get witness contact information and statements when possible. Contact information should include:
  • Names and contact information of drivers involved
  • Vehicle makes, models, and license plate numbers
  • Drivers’ license numbers
  • Insurance information
  1. Make note of the location, date, and time of the accident.
  1. Take an abundance of photos of the vehicles, the accident scene, the damages, and any known injuries.

You are injured in a parking lot accident.

If you are injured in a parking lot accident it can prove overwhelming. You may be in a state of shock and not know what to do next. However, here are actions you should be sure to take:

  1. Call 9-1-1- if you need emergency medical treatment or to report the accident to police
  2. Exchange contact information with the other driver(s) involved
  3. Take lots of photos of the accident, the accident scene, damage to the vehicles, and known injuries
  4. Record the location, date, and time of the accident
  5. Locate witnesses and obtain their contact information
  6. Avoid discussing the accident with the other driver(s) involved
  7. Do not apologize and do not admit fault – regardless of whether you think you are to blame
  8. Do not claim that you are physically fine or talk about any injuries since some injuries take days or weeks to appear
  9. Contact a qualified Michigan auto vehicle accident attorney as soon as possible. 

The Attorneys at Miller & Tischler, P.C. Can Help

If you or a loved one has been injured in a parking lot accident, you should not have to pay for someone else’s mistakes. The Michigan personal injury attorneys at Miller & Tischler, P.C. can help you to fight for the compensation that you deserve. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!