4 Types of Parking Lot Fender Benders and What to Do After

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by Nick Versaw Updated May 17th, 2022

Fender Bender

Parking lots are dangerous places. Intense competition for limited parking spaces could cause unnecessary speeding, illegal turns, and other mishaps, forcing drivers to file claims through their auto insurance providers. Parking lot accidents are some of the most common types of car accidents, but despite that fact, most Americans aren’t clear on who is responsible for a fender bender that occurs in a parking lot. We took five of the most common parking lot fender benders and made a quick guide to liability when driving in parking lots.

You never know when a distracted driver is looming. To be ready for a potential parking lot fender bender, we recommend shopping around between different providers to find the best car insurance rates with the proper coverage for fender benders like the ones we outline below. Enter your ZIP code below to get started:


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Who is At Fault in a Parking Lot Fender Bender?

Right-of-way rules determine which driver is at fault in a parking lot fender bender. However, parking lots are configured in multiple ways, skewing perception to determine who’s responsible.

To determine who’s at fault in a parking lot fender bender, consider the following scenarios:

Was Your Car Moving?

In most cases, the driver of a moving vehicle colliding with a parked car is at fault. However, it’s essential to consider the parked vehicle’s position. The driver may be held liable if the car is illegally parked or incorrectly parked (e.g. slanted, off-position).

Who Has the Right of Way?

Generally, drivers in the through lane have the right of way over parked drivers. Parked drivers must yield to through-lane vehicles. When two cars approach an interaction, the first driver to arrive at the intersection has the right of way.

Additionally, pedestrians have the right of way, even when walking behind backing vehicles.

Sometimes, drivers may find right-of-way rules confusing due to different parking lot configurations with stop signs, yield signs, and other road markings. Some parking lots have no signage at all. All of these scenarios create different perceptions of right-of-way between drivers.

4 Types of Parking Lot Car Accidents

2 people checking their cars after they crashed it

Here are four of the most common types of auto accidents for parking lot fender benders:

1. Two Drivers Back Out at the Same Time

Both drivers back out of parking spaces simultaneously at low speed or full speed, forcing a full-on or sideswipe collision. In this case, neither driver has the right of way. Depending on the state and insurer, this scenario would designate each driver as “at fault,” ” no-fault,” or partially at fault.

Under a no-fault ruling, each driver’s insurance company awards payouts to cover the cost of damages. Under a partial fault ruling, a percentage of fault to determine payouts is assigned to each driver based on each driver’s speed, presence of alcohol/drugs, distraction level, and other considerations.

2. One Driver Pulls Out of a Parking Space

Drivers backing up from a parking space may hit another moving car in the through lane. Since through-lane traffic has the right of way, the driver pulling out of the parking space may be held liable. All drivers must yield to moving traffic, even with impeded visibility. 

As a best practice, check for oncoming vehicles by turning your head over each shoulder instead of relying on your rearview mirror.

3. Two Drivers Competing for the Same Space Collide

When turning into an available parking space, liability usually falls under the driver crossing the stream of traffic. However, when evaluating insurance claims, insurers may examine the point of impact, which can reveal each driver’s positioning (e.g., one vehicle already partially in the space).

We highly recommend taking photo evidence of both vehicles from multiple angles to prove you’re not at fault through an insurance claim.

4. Another Car Rear-Ends You at a Stop Sign

Despite large red stop signs, fender benders caused by one vehicle rear-ending another are very common.

In most cases, the rear-ending vehicle will be at fault, with any claims issuing payouts accordingly.

What Should I Do Immediately After a Fender Bender?

Man talking on the phone while looking at 2 cars that crashed into each other

After a fender bender:

  1. Take a deep breath.
  2. Once you’re calm and composed, start the process of filing a police report.
  3. Call the police, provide them with your location, and collect the other driver’s full name, phone number, license plate, and insurance information.

If possible, get willing witnesses to share their contact information. When filing your insurance claim, any neutral third-party accounts of the incident could be beneficial.

Next, do not admit fault to the police officer or opposing driver, including property damage. Avoid exchanging too many details with the opposite driver and do not accept any compensation or requests not to file an insurance claim. At this point, you do not yet know the total costs of all damages to negotiate on your own. This strategy applies whether it’s a minor car accident or a major car accident.

After being released from the scene, seek medical attention if needed. If no medical treatment is required, call your insurance company to start filing a claim and taking your vehicle to the auto body shop. We recommend contacting a personal injury attorney, accident attorney, car accident lawyer, or law firm. They may offer a free consultation to build a case against the other party.

Do not forget to monitor whiplash. Whiplash symptoms could start developing after two or three days, even with no impact in minor accidents.

How Much Will Your Premium Rise After a Fender Bender?

Fender bender between 2 SUVs

Car accidents are bad enough without tackling insurance claims. Many people sustain serious injuries and are afraid to drive for months following the incident. To make matters worse, some people also have to worry about a hike in their insurance premiums.

It’s no secret that if you plow into another car, your premium will likely skyrocket. But what about fender-benders?

Premium hikes after a fender bender depend on your liability. It may be a chargeable vehicle accident if you’re determined to be 50% or more at fault. Chargeable accidents assign a monetary value to all damages. Depending on the insurer and type of accident, minor fender benders could result in a surcharge, raising your monthly rates. Different insurers apply different formulas.

However, if a moving vehicle hits your legally parked car or you’re the victim of a hit-and-run, don’t expect your insurance premiums to increase.

According to Esurance, it’s a complete myth that you’re guaranteed to pay a higher premium regardless of the accident’s severity. Filing a claim doesn’t necessarily equate to shelling out additional funds.

Some motorists are so nervous about rate hikes, they won’t file claims following an incident. However, several factors play into the rate decision, including the accident’s severity, driving history, who’s to blame, and insurance policy details.

The amount of time a minor accident or a major accident stays on your record depends on where you live and the violations resulting from the accident. The Department of Motor Vehicles can be a valuable resource for learning more information.

As insurance varies from company to company and person to person, it’s hard to put a number on the increase you could face if an accident is your fault. However, in most states, after you’ve been in an accident, the premium decreases every year you’re accident-free.

Shop Around for the Best Car Insurance Rates

After a parking lot fender bender, one of the best things you can do is call your insurance agent to examine all protections guaranteed under your policy.

If you’re assessed a surcharge or rate hike, it may be time to shop around and look into other car insurance providers. Don’t be afraid to compare rates from different insurance companies to find the cheapest car insurance.

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