birds eye view of a car park

Accident in a Car Park: Who’s at Fault?

November 21, 2023

Car park accidents, while usually tend to be less dramatic than high-speed collisions on the road (or at least we’d hope!) can still be quite complex, especially when it comes to figuring out who's at fault. Whether you’re in a multi-storey car park or a supermarket parking area in the UK, let's take a look at what you need to know about such incidents.

What to Do Immediately After

If you’re involved in a car park accident, the immediate steps include ensuring everyone's safety, calling for medical assistance if needed, documenting the accident scene, and exchanging information with the other party involved.

How to Approach the Other Party

When interacting with the other party involved in the accident, it’s important to stay calm and collected. Always avoid admitting fault or making accusations at the scene, and make sure to exchange necessary information and leave the fault determination up to the insurers or legal experts.

Causes of Car Park Accidents

Several factors contribute to car park accidents:

  • Limited Visibility: Blind spots and obstructed views are common in car parks, which can lead to collisions.
  • Manoeuvring Issues: The challenge of navigating tight spaces often leads to bumps and scrapes, especially if you’re driving a larger or bulkier car.
  • Distracted Driving: Drivers might be focused on finding a spot rather than the traffic around them, which can lead to a lack of focus and ultimate collision.
  • Speed: Even at low speeds, a lack of attention can lead to accidents, whether you’re looking for a parking space or absent-mindedly checking your receipt from the shops.

Understanding Traffic Regulations in Car Parks

When it comes to finding fault in a traditional road accident, most insurers will claim that the at-fault party wasn’t respecting the highway code. And while there’s no different highway code to adhere to in a car park, car parks do tend to also have their own rules and regulations, which are used to both help prevent accidents, and also determine fault when they occur:

Signage and Markings

Being tightly condensed spaces filled with vehicles, there’s no room for endless traffic lights; this means car parks need to be defined by signage and markings. When you’re in a car park, paying attention to these is important for safe navigation, and can impact fault determination in the event of an accident.

Speed Limits and Right of Way

Though rarely imposed by speed limits, the expectation in car parks is to drive slowly and cautiously, not just for other cars but to protect pedestrians; this means understanding and respecting the right of way at crossings and junctions as shoppers and pedestrians pass.

Who’s Responsible for an Accident In A Car Park?

cars parked in a parking lot

Determining Liability

Like with any accident, liability in a car park accident is often a matter of negligence, with factors like disregarding car park rules, driving recklessly, or not yielding right of way all coming into play when establishing who’s at fault.

Shared Fault and Comparative Negligence

In some scenarios, both parties might share the blame: this is known as comparative negligence, where each person's level of fault affects the liability and potential compensation. For example, Party 1 was looking at their phone while driving, but Party 2 was also not paying attention to the car park’s signage.

Filing an Insurance Claim for a Car Park Accident

If you do plan on filing a claim for a car park accident, this first means providing your insurer with all the accident details and evidence. Photograph the scene, note down details like time and weather conditions, and get contact information from witnesses. Most car parks also tend to have CCTV cameras installed to prevent theft, so you might even want to ask for a copy of the tape from the day the accident occurred.

If the accident is found to not be your fault, this will influence the outcome of your claim, meaning your insurer will attempt to recoup the cost of repairs from the at-fault party. If you're found to be at fault, you'll need to understand how to proceed with a repair if the accident was your fault - this can often mean an out-of-pocket expense.


Should I contact my insurance company even for a minor accident in a car park?

Yes, it's advisable to contact your insurance company even for minor accidents. They can guide you on the next steps and help document the incident for future reference.

Can I claim insurance if the other party in a car park accident drives off?

Yes, you can still file a claim with your insurance company. If you have their vehicle details, it can help track them down. Your policy type and coverage will determine the compensation.

What if both drivers are partially at fault in a car park accident?

In cases of shared fault, also known as comparative negligence, liability may be divided between both parties based on their degree of fault. This can affect the compensation amount each party receives.

Is it necessary to involve the police in a car park accident?

It's necessary to involve the police if there are injuries, significant damage, or if the other party leaves the scene without providing their details. For minor accidents without injuries, it usually isn’t necessary.