Driving in a parking lot seems safer than driving on the road, but the truth is that one of every five car accidents take place in a parking lot, adding up to 14 percent of all auto insurance claims. Drivers and pedestrians alike tend to have a false sense of security when it comes to parking lots; traffic moves more slowly and there are more areas for pedestrians to cross, often putting caution on the back burner.
If a driver dents or dings your car in the parking lot, hopefully they leave a note with their contact information. However, as we all know, this is not always the case. Here are three common ways to recover damages after a fender bender in a parking lot:
- Submit an insurance claim: Many drivers choose not to file an insurance claim because dents and dings are small expenses. However, depending on your policy, it can be in your best interest to submit a claim to your insurance carrier.
- Make a contract with the other driver: If the other driver left a note on your car, you can get ahold of that person and come up with an agreement. Once you’ve figured out the extent of the damage to your car, contact the other driver to draft a legal agreement that makes sense. This agreement should include the names and signatures of you and the other party; the amount to be paid for damage to your car; the time limits for payment or repair; remedies for non-payment; and an agreement to drop all claims for damages once payment is received. This agreement could also include a provision allowing the liable party to fix the damage him or herself. However, make sure you are precise as possible when drafting the agreement so there is no confusion later on as to who is responsible for what.
- Sue in small claims court: In the state of New Jersey, claims for damage of $3,000 or less are handled in small claims court. You can file a claim in small claims court to recover money for the dents and dings—however, you must have some way to contact the other driver. If the accident happened in a commercial lot and the driver did not leave a note, ask the lot owner or store owner if you can look at the security footage for leads on the other driver.
If you have questions about small claims court, dents and dings in a parking lot, or car accidents in general, it can be helpful to contact an experienced car accident attorney.