Car accidents, including parking lot accidents, are as deadly as they are common. In 2020, 38,824 people were killed in traffic accidents in the U.S. Even if fatalities don’t occur, you may suffer serious injuries in a car accident, resulting in costly medical bills, lost wages, or long-term debilitation. You may also have extensive property damage. If you were not at fault for the accident, then you may not necessarily be responsible for these bills.
If you were in the car when the accident occurred, you mustn’t flee the scene. At best, if no one was injured in the accident, you can face a misdemeanor charge, including a fine and possible jail time. At worst, if someone was injured, the police can charge you with a felony. Fines and potential jail time are far more severe in this case.
The first thing you should do after an accident is call 911. An officer will arrive at the scene and write up a report. Don’t forget to get their name and badge number. Ask for a copy of this report; you’ll need it if you want to file a claim with an insurance company.
After you call 911, take note of your injuries. If any are visible, take photos of them. When medics arrive at the scene, let them check you out. If they offer you a ride in an ambulance, accept. It’s important to say yes even if you don’t believe you’ve been injured, as shock or adrenaline can conceal injury by suppressing pain. In addition, the guilty party or insurance adjuster can use your declining of medical treatment as evidence that your injuries aren’t as serious as you claim and so you’re not entitled to medical compensation.
If you’re physically able, document the scene of the accident as best you can. Photograph license plates, property damage, and any miscellaneous details such as skid marks or debris. Note any nearby landmarks or traffic signs and signals as these can be helpful for your case. Write down and remember the weather conditions at the time of the accident as well as the time of day.
Do not allow the other driver to take a photo of your license. Identity thieves can use the information on your license for malicious purposes. Be wary with whom you share your driver’s license information.
After you’ve been treated for any injuries, call your insurance company and report the accident.
The courts treat Wendy’s parking lots like most other private parking lots. Whether it was a Wendy’s parking lot or another business’s parking lot, these types of accidents are typically treated similarly. This means that, if the parking lot is unsafe, the property owner may be liable for any damages incurred as a result of an accident that occurs in their lot.
In other words, Wendy’s may be at least partially liable if the accident occurred as a result of their negligence. For example, if the parking lot is exceedingly difficult to navigate and this helped cause the accident, Wendy’s would be liable. A court may also hold them liable if there was construction in the lot that caused it to be unsafe. A court might consider a poorly placed stop sign or malfunctioning traffic light as causes of the accident. If there is insufficient lighting, a court could hold Wendy’s responsible.
Sometimes a staff member owned by the business is responsible for what happens in the parking lot. This might be the case if, for instance, it’s a particularly busy day and either the staff member or supervisor is responsible for guiding the cars through their lot.
Importantly, for you to have a case against Wendy’s, you must prove that the owner knew about potential safety issues with their parking lot and failed to correct them.
If you hire an attorney, they will start by interviewing you. They’ll ask about your medical treatment, your injuries, and the accident. They will gather your medical records and copies of bills you’ve received. This can be a complicated and arduous process so you might need to wait a few months for everything to be in one place.
Your attorney will work with you during the negotiations process to settle with the insurance company. This begins with writing what’s called a demand letter, which includes all your damages, loss of income, injuries, medical bills, and an argument why the other party is responsible for the accident. This is where all your documentation of the accident comes in handy: The more comprehensive it is, the stronger your case will be, and the better you’ll be able to answer any questions the insurance company may have.
The sending of the demand letter initiates negotiations. The insurance company will go over your letter and either accept your initial demand – which is not likely – or counter it, offering reasons why they owe you less than what you claim. You may then in turn write an argument back countering their points. You will continue to do this until either you both agree to a settlement or negotiations break down in which case you have the option of going to trial.
As your attorney knows, you should be aware of the often-strict statute of limitations in case you do decide to go to trial. If you wait too long, you will be unable to pursue damages in court.
Generally, if you can prove another party was responsible for the accident, their insurance company would be liable. If you were hit but can’t prove who was responsible, such as if they fled the scene, then your own insurance company should cover the damages. In other words, as long as you can prove you were not at fault for the accident, you can take up your claim with an insurance company.
Strictly speaking, you do not need a lawyer for a car accident that occurs in a parking lot. However, insurance companies are self-interested parties that want to protect their finances and will only pay you the bare minimum that they have to. The judicial process for car accident lawsuits can be complicated and if you are inexperienced in negotiating with insurance companies you will likely have a difficult time earning all that you believe you are owed.
However, if you choose to, you may hire a car accident lawyer to represent you. Property damage, medical bills, and lost wages are all potential outcomes of a car accident, and if you want the guilty party to compensate you for these items, you must be able to present a convincing case that another party was responsible for the accident. A car accident lawyer has experience in the process involved in resolving these types of cases and can help you through the negotiations process. If necessary, they can help you argue your case in court if it goes to trial.
At Fielding Law, we have this type of experience, and we will fight for you every step of the way. Contact us for a free consultation to explore what your options are going forward and to find out if you may have a case.