Who’s At-Fault in a Parking Lot Accident?

You’re pulling out of your parking space and some guy drives right into the back of your car! That’s not your fault…is it?

When it comes to determining fault in parking lot accidents, there is often a lot of confusion and debate among Ontario drivers. While you may not always agree with the end result, it is important to understand how fault is determined in parking lot accidents.

Just like collisions on highways and city streets, parking lot claims follow a set of basic rules to help determine who is at fault when a claim is filed.

Although every situation has unique details and circumstances, below is a guideline of the most common claim scenarios, and the corresponding fault determination rules to help you understand who is actually at fault in a parking lot collision.

I hit a parked car.

In almost every situation when you hit another vehicle that is parked, you are 100% at-fault. One exception to this rule is if the other vehicle was parked illegally. In these cases, make sure you have photos and statements from any witnesses to support your argument.

TIP: The closest parking spot is not always the best choice. Give yourself enough space and try not to “squeeze” into a spot just to be a few steps closer.

I hit a car pulling out of my parking space.

When you pull out of your parking space you are entering what is called a ‘feeder lane’. Cars traveling in feeder lanes always have the right of way, so make sure you look both directions and exit your parking space cautiously. If you hit a car passing by, you will most likely be at-fault.

TIP: Try reversing into your parking spot when possible. This will help increase your visibility when exiting as you will be driving forward.

I hit a car while turning into a ‘thoroughfare’.

A thoroughfare is a main laneway in the parking lot that directly exits to the road. Cars traveling down the thoroughfare have the right of way, so cars turning into the thoroughfare will be at fault in a collision.

TIP: Treat traffic signs in parking lots the same way you would on the road.

We were both pulling out of our parking spots.

When two vehicles are pulling out of their respective parking spots and collide this usually results in shared responsibility, meaning the fault would be split 50/50.

TIP: Don’t assume the other driver is going to stop just because you started pulling out first. A quick honk of your horn will alert the other driver that you are there.

Someone hit my car and took off!

A Hit and Run can be extremely frustrating! But don’t worry; you will not be at-fault provided you make a police report. If the other driver is not identified, you will have to pay your collision deductible to have any damage to your vehicle repaired.

TIP: If you did not see what happened, ask around; someone may have witnessed the accident and be able to provide you with information for your police report.