No Police Report for Minor Parking Lot Collision...

by L
(Columbia, SC)

My friend was leaving a private parking lot and turning right onto the main road, when another vehicle turned into the lot while speeding and without using its turn signal, nearly missing her. I saw the vehicle and waited to back out of my parking spot until the vehicle was gone.

I checked my mirrors and over my shoulder, and as I was backing out I heard a sound. I stopped my car and got out to check what was going on. I didn't see anything I could have possibly run into, but when I looked down toward the opposite end of the parking lot I saw another vehicle, and I saw damage on my rear driver's side bumper.

We both agreed not to file a police report at the scene (I've learned through further research that accidents within parking lots are typically no fault accidents, and officers don't even respond). However, the other driver is now claiming that I need to pay for her damages, even though it is days later and we never filed a police report.

I didn't want to file a report because in my opinion the damage was minor and cosmetic, and I didn't have time to be without my car for a week while it got fixed. Also, we are both in our 20's, and I didn't want to press charges against her (for speeding/driving recklessly). But she is now saying that if I don't pay for her damages she will take me to small claims court, which I'd rather avoid.

There were businesses right in front of where the accident took place, and I was wondering if a court is required to get video footage (if any) of the accident? Do I have to pay for her damages? Thanks for any insight you can give!

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "No Police Report for Minor Parking Lot Collision...":

L (Columbia, SC):

The existence of fault in a "parking lot collision" is irrelevant. Regardless of whether you called the police or not is also irrelevant. You are right about the police not responding to a parking lot accident. These days police officers usually respond only to injury accidents, or those in which the accident is impeding traffic.

In your case if you backed into another vehicle you are probably liable for the damages you caused. If you don't pay the fair market value of repairs the driver can sue you in small claims court. If she does it doesn't means she will automatically win.

If you have reason to believe she was speeding, you may have a good defense. If you looked behind you and made every reasonable effort to see if any vehicles were oncoming and you saw none you may be able to thwart her case.

If a person is speeding and as result a reasonable person under similar circumstances wouldn't have been able to see the vehicle coming, the plaintiff's case may not succeed. If she sues you and you are convinced she was speeding you might consider filing a counter-claim against her for the damage to your car.

There is no law which governs getting video of the accident, unless you file a formal lawsuit and it requested by subpoena during the discovery process. If you do go to small claims court you can request the video from the business, but they don't have to give it to you.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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