How to Handle a Parking Lot Accident
Parking lots at shopping centers, office buildings, apartment complexes and elsewhere can be dangerous because of the high volume of vehicles and pedestrians. Drivers may be easily distracted by their surroundings or may have limited visibility. Parking lot accidents tend to occur at relatively low speeds, which means that the injuries are less likely to be as serious as other auto accidents.
However, these cases can be complicated since fault is not always obvious. Fault in these types of cases is treated in much as the same way as another other motor vehicle collision because just like main streets, parking lots have right-of-way rules too.
Right-Of-Way in a Parking Lot
While navigating a parking lot, right-of-way can be somewhat confusing. The best way to determine this is by considering the type of lane you are in because parking lots have two basic types of roads: thoroughfares and feeder lanes.
A thoroughfare is generally a lane that exits to a street. These tend to be wider and are the main arteries of the parking lot. Feeder lanes, on the other hand, are smaller lanes that typically begin and end at the thoroughfares.
Drivers in a thoroughfare usually have the right-of-way over those departing feeder lanes. However, just like on a city street, the person turning left or right must yield right-of-way to approaching traffic, pedestrians and cyclists. Similarly, anyone who is moving out of a parking space must yield to those who are driving through the lane. Vehicles in a parking space do not have right-of-way over those already on the move.
Finally, all stop and yield signs should be observed in a parking lot in the same way as signs on any street. Failure to obey posted signs could result in an accident for which you may be found at fault for having caused.
5 Common Parking Lot Accidents
Parking lots are dangerous places. Limited visibility and what can, at times, be intense competition for a parking space contributes to the danger of operating a vehicle in a tight space with other moving vehicles. Parking lot accidents are some of the most common types of car accidents, but despite that fact most Americans aren’t clear on who is responsible for a fender bender that occurs in a parking lot. We took five of the most common parking lot fender benders and made a quick guide to liability when driving in parking lots.
Here are the most common types of parking lot accidents:
- Two drivers back up into each other: Both cars are moving, so both drivers are responsible for that movement. Neither driver has the right of way. Each is responsible for checking to be sure it is safe to back up before doing so. In this parking lot accident, who is at fault? It is likely both drivers will share fault for the accident.
- A driver pulls forward out of a space, into the lane of traffic: Both cars are moving so both drivers are responsible. In a parking lot, drivers in the traffic lane have the right of way, so the driver who pulled out of the space is likely the majority at fault in the accident.
- A driver backs out of a space, into an oncoming car: Because both vehicles are moving, each driver may hold some responsibility. But, the driver in the traffic lane has the right of way. The driver who is backing out is responsible for waiting until it is safe to back out. The driver backing out is likely to be deemed primarily at fault in this parking lot accident.
- Two cars vying for the same space collide: While rushing to get a parking space, one car collides with another. Both vehicles were moving, so both drivers have responsibility. Which driver has the right of way? As on a roadway, the driver making a turn across traffic must yield to oncoming traffic. The driver turning left into the parking space is likely the majority at fault in this accident. Of course other factors such as the points of impact on the vehicles, how far each vehicle was into the parking space when the collision occurred, and the speed of the vehicle prior to impact will also affect who is assigned responsibility for the accident.
- A car rear-ends another at a stop sign: In this case, only one vehicle is moving. The moving vehicle is generally at fault in this type of accident, whether it occurs in a parking lot or on the roadway. Even if the car in front stops suddenly at a stop sign, the driver in the second car is likely to be at fault. Drivers are expected to provide enough distance between their car and the vehicle in front of them to avoid a rear-end collision.
Avoiding Parking Lot Accidents
Cautious driving is the best and easiest way to avoid being involved in a collision but there are other preventative measures you can take too:
- Drive slowly
- Stay alert for cars and pedestrians cutting across parking lanes
- Use turn signals for the benefit of other drivers and pedestrians
- Choose a parking space where you can pull forward to leave the space instead of backing out
- Choose a parking space at the end of a row, next to an island or in front of a light pole when possible to protect your car
- Do not park in a compact space unless you are driving a compact car
- Never take up two spaces by parking over a line
- Look 180 degrees in both directions before backing out of a parking space instead of relying on a mirror or rearview camera
- Park in spots farther away from a store because it may be easier to avoid traffic
Contact Us Now
If you or a loved one has been injured in a parking lot accident, please contact our Personal Injury Attorneys at 1-877-241-9554 to learn more about your legal options. A free consultation is just a phone call away. An experienced attorney can answer your questions, investigate the accident and file your paperwork to ensure that your case is properly prepared and filed within the time limit required by the court.