Question: I was driving in a snowy store parking lot and bumped into another car that then hit the shopping cart corral and banged that up. No one was hurt, but what covers me for the damage to my car and the car I hit? Also, will I be responsible for the damaged carts? Does the store have any liability?
Answer: Driving during or after a snowstorm can be tricky and even dangerous. You need to be even more cautious than normal to stay in complete control of your vehicle. (See “7 deadly sins of winter driving.”)
If you lose control and hit another vehicle, or object, you need collision coverage for your vehicle to be covered by your car insurance policy. With collision, the repairs or total loss of your vehicle will be paid out after an auto accident, minus your deductible amount.
Your property damage liability coverage will pay for the damages you caused to another vehicle, or anything else you hit, up to your limit. To understand better what coverage is used for different types of car crashes, try out our Crash-o-matic tool that will let you click on six common accident scenarios to see what car insurance coverage would be needed to pay for damages done.
It’s good to hear that no one was injured in this parking lot accident. However, if the other person complains later about being hurt, your bodily injury liability coverage should cover that individual’s injuries up to your maximum per person limit.
As for the damaged shopping carts and the cart corral, it’s most likely that you will be held responsible for those damages as well. Even though it was the other vehicle that actually hit the shopping carts, yours was the one that shoved that vehicle into the store’s property. Hopefully the damage to both the other vehicle and the carts is minimal so that your property damage liability limits will be sufficient to cover both.
Your property damage liability limit is per accident, so if it’s exceeded by the repair costs for all of the items you damaged, you will be held personally liable for any additional costs. (See “Do I have to pay if my liability limits are exceeded?”)
You can look into state laws and local ordinances to see if there is any liability on the part of the store for the snowy or icy condition of the parking lot -- there are areas of the U.S. that have very specific snow removal laws, such as Boston.
However, it’s highly likely for this snowy parking lot accident to be found to be mostly your fault and thus it could affect your future auto insurance premiums. If your premiums do rise, make sure to shop around for lower car insurance rates. Spending a few minutes to comparison shop can save you hundreds of dollars, if not thousands.