How to handle a fender bender

Door dents and bumper dents happen, but what should you do if you cause, witness, or are the victim of a minor accident? Here are some suggestions of the actions to take and your obligations if you’re at fault.


Fender benders in parking lots

Did you know that an estimated 1 in 5 traffic accidents in Canada occur in parking lots? That statistic may not surprise you, as most of us have at some point returned to our vehicle to find scrapes and scratches on the door or bumper. An aggravating and disappointing situation to say the least.

If your vehicle has been damaged by someone or something else, you are not at fault. If you’re unsure who damaged your vehicle, attempt to locate a witness so that you can file a police report. Note that you are required by law to file a report if the damage exceeds $2,000 or if someone has been injured.

Note that you are also required to file a police report if:

– Someone has been injured
– The accident involves a government vehicle
– The driver involved does not have car insurance
– A criminal act has occurred, such as  DUI
– The accident involved a pedestrian
– Damage is caused to private or municipal property

Failure to do so may result in a fine, license suspension, or jail time.

Insurance tip: You may also want to take photos of the area and the damage to your vehicle, as this may help with your insurance claim. You have seven days in which to report the accident to your broker, agent, or insurance company.


Should you find yourself in a situation where you’ve witnessed or been a part of a parking lot accident, here are the steps you should take: 



  1. If it is safe to do so, move your vehicle out of the way of traffic
  2. Check to see if anyone has been injured — if so, call 911
  3. Exchange information with the other driver
  4. Report the accident if the damage exceeds $2,000
  5. Take your vehicle to the nearest collision reporting centre if required
  6. Contact your insurance company

For drivers in Ontario, you can also refer to this guide.

Fender benders on city streets
All of the same rules apply to accidents that happen on city streets or private property other than parking lots. Your first mandate is really to ensure that no one has been hurt, and if they have, to get them prompt medical attention by calling 911.

For major accidents (beyond your typical minor fender bender), it’s always best to remain at the scene and call 911 for help and direction on your next steps. 


How to avoid minor accidents

Slow down!
Speed is often a contributing factor in vehicle accidents. Moving at a slower speed allows you better visibility and awareness of your surroundings, as well as the ability to stop faster should you need to.

Increase your visibility
You can help others avoid accidents with you by making your presence known. Whenever possible, make eye contact with other drivers and ensure that you’re using your signals properly. And don’t forget to use the appropriate headlight system given the time of day and weather.

Pull through or back into parking spots
Doing so means that you won’t have to reverse your vehicle, which often leads to poor visibility and a greater risk for a fender bender.

Listen to your vehicle’s tech
Many newer model cars are equipped with multiple cameras and sensors to help drivers be more aware of their surroundings. Be sure to listen and leverage this safety technology at all times.

Watch for roadway obstructions
You may be familiar with your route, but at times, unexpected debris or interference (such as an object rolling into the street) can cause distraction or damage.  


Being in the valet parking industry, we at Gatsby Valet are hyper-vigilant of roadway and parking lot dangers. We train our valets to remain aware and alert at all times while on the job to ensure the safety of visitors, valet guests, and their vehicles. As an organization, we are also insured for any accidents that happen while a guests’ vehicle is under our care.

Roadways and parking lots are intended to be shared. Let’s all stay safe by staying alert and watching out for one another. And should a fender bender occur, be gracious and understanding and do your best to resolve the issue promptly and fairly.