Will the insurance on the vehicle I was driving cover my liability? How is “Fault” determined in parking lot accidents like this?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jan 2, 2012

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Insurance Question from Polk City, FL

Asked on 01/02/2012

Will the insurance on the vehicle I was driving cover my liability? How is “Fault” determined in parking lot accidents like this? The other day my partner and I borrowed her mom's car to go shopping. When we were leaving the store, myself and another car backed up straight into each other. Her mom's car is insured with PIP and liability, but I am not listed as a driver on the car. The driver of the other vehicle is saying this is 100% my fault although we backed up into each other. There was no damage to the car I was driving but there was damage to the car I was in the accident with. I am unsure of how to address this situation, whether I need to call my insurance, and if the accident will be found 50/50?

Answer given on January 02, 2012

Normally, in auto accidents where fault can not be determined, the insurance on the car you were driving will pay for any damage to that car (in this case none) and the other driver’s insurance will pay for their own vehicle.  Since there was no injury, we do not have to worry about medical cost. Most insurance adjuster will rule this as a 50/50 accident unless a witness says something to the contrary. Normally in a private parking lot, police do not get involved.  The fact that you were not on the insurance is not a factor. In most states, the insurance follows the vehicle.  Therefore, you were using her car with permissive use, so the insurance on the car would be primary.  Did any one happen to take a picture of the position of the vehicle perhaps with a cell phone to show that each car was out of its parking space and the positions in the accident?  If so, you can always use that to prove that both of you were equally at fault.  You also had a witness in your car that can confirm your side of the accident. Enlist his/her help if necessary to talk to the insurance company.     

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