Blog What Happens If You Get In A Parking Lot Accident In Ontario?

Feb 15, 2021

What You Should Know About Parking Lot Accidents

parking lot with many vehicles

Parking lot accidents happen all the time in Ontario. The combination of vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, shopping carts, medians, and tight driving lanes make them a potential recipe for disaster.

Considering all the factors in play, it’s no surprise parking lot accidents happen. Statistics show they are more common than most realize - about 1 in 5 accidents happen in parking lots. Almost all of them are avoidable.

While most parking lot accidents are minor and involve low speed impact, they can still result in serious damage and injury. They can also have a big impact on your car insurance. This is a reason why many go unreported and parking lot hit and runs are common.

What Do You Do If Your In A Parking Lot Accident In Ontario?

Since the accident happens on private property, and not on a public road, many people assume how you should react to a parking lot accident will be different. Contrary to popular belief, parking lot accidents should be treated the same as any other accident.

If you are involved in an accident, check to make sure all parties involved are not injured. If they are injured, call for emergency assistance.

If the damage is more than the $2,000 threshold in Ontario, call the police and file an accident report. Make sure you exchange information with all parties involved and notify your insurer.

Steps To Take If Involved In A Parking Lot Accident

Follow the same steps as you would any other type of traffic accident :

  • Move your vehicle out of the way of traffic if safe to do so.
  • Check to see if anyone is injured.
  • Approach the other driver to make sure they are okay.
  • Exchange information with the other driver.
  • Report the accident if the damage exceeds $2,000.
  • Take the vehicle to the nearest collision reporting centre if required.
  • Tell your insurer.

Some drivers choose to pay for minor damage out of pocket. Even if you choose to pay for the damage, you are still required to notify your insurer about the accident. This is another reason why it's important to have Toronto car insurance - the more people, the more risk drivers can face.

Who's At-fault In A Parking Lot Accident?

Parking lot accident fault is commonly misinterpreted. Just like any other auto accident, fault is determined on a case-by-case basis. Determining fault in a parking lot accident can be difficult due to the variety of factors at play.

Drivers in the traffic lane have the right of way over vehicles exiting spots. This is a key factor when determining fault. In some instances, one driver may be solely at-fault, and in other situations, drivers share fault.

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White SUV parked in driveway

Fault Determination In A Parking Lot Accident

In general, if you collide with a legally parked vehicle, you are to blame for the at-fault accident.

Anyone who is exiting a parking spot must yield to the vehicle driving down the lane. If you disobey a traffic sign and it results in an accident, you will most likely be found to be at-fault. These fault determinations are applicable in Ontario, Alberta and most other Canadian provinces.

Is An Accident In A Parking Lot 50-50 Fault For Each Driver?

There is a misconception that all parking lot accidents are considered to be 50-50 fault. This is not true. Fault for a parking lot accident is determined on a case by case basis. While some parking lot accidents are difficult to determine fault, it's determined based on the details of the accident.

What Are The Most Common Types Of Parking Lot Accidents?

There are many common types of parking lot accidents that could happen. Here are some of the most common :

  • A car hits a pedestrian or cyclist : Pedestrians can pop up out of nowhere. They come of out the store, cross through spots, get out of their vehicles. If you hit a pedestrian you may or may not be found to be at-fault depending on the situation.
  • A moving car hits a stationary vehicle : This is one of the most frequent types of parking lot accidents. You’re backing out of a space or driving into a spot and hit another vehicle.
  • A vehicle hits a stationary object : There are many things you could hit - median, curb, shopping cart, traffic sign, light post. If you hit these, you’ll be 100% at-fault.
  • Two cars backing up hit each other : Two vehicles backing out of spots at the same time can risk hitting each other. In this instance, both drivers usually share fault.
  • A vehicle backs out of a parking space into another parked or moving vehicle : If you are backing out of a spot, you must yield to oncoming traffic. If you hit a vehicle you will be at-fault.
  • Two cars competing for the same spot collide : In this case, both drivers will have some responsibility for the collision.
  • A vehicles rear ends and other at a stop sign : If you rear end another vehicle, at a stop sign, or other areas within the parking lot, you will most likely be at-fault. Pay attention to your surroundings, watch your speed, and drive safe.

Does A Parking Lot Accident Go On Your Driving Record?

Yes. A parking lot accident is treated the same as an accident anywhere else. If reported, it will go on your driving record and it could impact your insurance premium. For this reason, many drivers choose not to report parking lot accidents.

What Is A Parking Lot Accident Hit And Run?

We’ve all heard stories about vehicles getting hit in parking lots. Doors get dinged and bumpers scratched and dented all the time. There are two parking lot accident hit and run scenarios :

  • If you hit another vehicle : What many people do not realize is if you hit a vehicle in a parking lot and leave the scene, you could be charged with a hit and run.
  • If your vehicle was hit by another vehicle : If your vehicle is hit by another vehicle in a parking lot you will not be found at-fault. If no note was left you can call the police and file a report. Police may or may not be able to track down the other driver.

What To Do If You Are Involved Parking Lot Accident Hit And Run?

If you hit another vehicle in a parking lot and the other driver is not present, see if you can find the driver. If you cannot locate the driver, leave a note on the driver’s windshield. Provide them with your contact information so you can sort out the details.

This will help you avoid a potential hit and run charge. It’s also good karma. You’d want other drivers to leave a note if they hit your vehicle.

silver car with damaged front fender and bumper

What Are The Parking Lot Accident Rules In Ontario?

There is a certain set of rules, or parking lot right of way laws, that apply in parking lot accident situations in Ontario. These rules include :

  • Traffic signs : Obey all traffic signs in parking lot areas.
  • Yielding : When exiting a parking spot, you must yield to traffic.
  • Right of way : Drivers in the main lane entering the parking lot have the right of way.
  • Backing up : If you back into a feeder or main lane and hit a vehicle, you will be at-fault.
  • Open doors : If you back into an open door of a parked car, the driver of the parked car is typically at-fault.
  • Legally parked car : If you hit a legally parked car, you are at-fault.
  • Illegally parked car : If you hit an illegally parked vehicle, the illegally parked vehicle is commonly at-fault.
  • Opening you door : If you open your car door and hit another vehicle, you are at-fault.

Tips To Avoid A Parking Lot Accident

Parking lots are busy places. You need to pay attention at all times to avoid accidents. Here are some tips :

  • Stay focused : Pay attention to your surroundings at all times. Put your phone down. Cars and pedestrians could cause you to make a sudden stop at any time.
  • Don’t blindly trust your backup camera : backup cameras have become a popular device in vehicles. Use them as an aid, not your only viewpoint when backing out of a space.
  • Check your blind spots, and then check them again : Always check your blink spots, and perform shoulder checks as you change directions and move in or out of a spot.
  • Proceed with caution : Keep you head on a swivel. Always proceed with caution when driving down parking lanes, close to storefronts, and when entering and exiting spots.
  • Slow down : Keep your speed down. Drive within the posted speed limit.
  • Follow all traffic signs : Traffic signs in parking lots are not optional.
  • Park in less busy areas : Avoid highly congested areas of the lot. Park at the back and walk.

Do Parking Lot Accidents Affect Insurance?

Parking lot accidents are treated just like any other type of accident by insurers. They use the same rules to determine who the cause of the accident is and they can impact your car insurance quotes if you are found to be at-fault.

Do I have To Notify My Insurance Company About A Parking Lot Accident?

Yes. Just like any other accident. You should always notify your company if you are involved in an accident in a parking lot. You are required to report all accidents to your insurer, even if you plan to pay for the damages out of pocket.

Parking Lot Accident FAQs

It’s estimated that approximately 20% (1 in 5) of all car accidents happen in parking lots.

In this instance, both parties are commonly found to have some fault in causing the car accident. The percentage each driver is found to be at-fault will depend on the details of the situation.

Parking lot accidents need to be reported in Ontario if the damage of both vehicles is greater than $2,000, if someone gets injured or if it's a requirement on your policy.

Yes. You can file a car insurance claim for an accident in a parking lot of private property. They are treated the same as other types of traffic accidents even if they occur on private property.