Parking lots can be challenging to navigate. During busy times, you have to deal with people driving in different directions, pedestrians walking about, and drivers trying to get in and out of spots. For these reasons, parking lot accidents are more common than you may think.
Fortunately, parking lot accidents are usually not serious since most people drive slowly through busy lots. However, when you get into a parking lot accident, it can be hard to determine who is at fault. Despite popular belief, parking lots have rules that you should know to stay out of trouble.
Why Accident Fault Matters
If you live in a fault state, your car insurance policy depends on the circumstances of the accident. Determining fault will help you know if insurance will cover vehicle damages and any personal injuries. To determine fault, insurance companies will:
- Take statements from all relevant parties
- Consider the vehicle damage
- Apply fault determination rules
You should provide an accurate account of what happened to your insurance company and cooperate with the process. Even if the accident was minor, you still want to report it to your car insurance company.
Parking lot accident liability usually comes down to a careless driver. Two factors that determine liability include whether the car was moving and who had the right of way.
Was the Car Moving?
People hit parked cars in and out of parking lots all the time. Who is to blame when this happens? The driver of the moving vehicle is usually responsible for the accident. However, if the other car was parked illegally, that can complicate the determination.
If you back into a parked car, hit a parked vehicle when you opened your door, or clipped a parked car, you are at fault. If you leave the scene after knowingly damaging a vehicle, it may be considered a hit and run.
Who Has the Right Of Way In A Parking Lot?
To determine who has the right of way in a parking lot, you should know that parking lots have two types of road designations:
- Thoroughfares. Thoroughfare lanes exit to a street. They are wider than the other lanes. These drivers typically have the right-of-way over drivers in feeder lanes. However, if you are turning out of a thoroughfare lane, you have to yield to oncoming traffic, cyclists, and pedestrians.
- Feeder lanes. Feeder lanes are the smaller lanes that begin and end at thoroughfare lanes. If you are pulling out of a parking space, you must yield to drivers in the feeder lane. Parked vehicles do not have the right of way over moving vehicles.
Lastly, you should follow stop and yield signs posted throughout the parking lot regardless of the assumed right of way. Failing to obey a sign may result in the insurance company finding you at fault.
Common Causes Of Parking Lot Accidents
Many different accidents occur in parking lots. Some drivers are navigating in and out of the lots while others are maneuvering in and out of parking spots. Some of the most common accidents include:
Exiting A Parking Space
Sometimes, two drivers will hit each other when they are both exiting a parking space. They may not have been aware of their surroundings, or one driver was in the other driver’s blind spot. In this case, both drivers may be found equally at fault.
If a driver pulling out of a parking spot backs into an oncoming vehicle, the parking spot driver is at fault. Drivers leaving parking spaces must yield to moving vehicles and wait for a safe moment to exit.
Driving Too Fast
Parking lots have speed limits, just like regular streets. When people drive too fast, they are unable to prepare for sudden changes around them. They are also less observant.
If a driver is speeding, they may share some liability for accidents, even if they typically wouldn’t be at fault. For example, if a speeding driver hits a driver moving out of a parking space, they may both be at fault. The parking spot driver should have been aware of their surroundings, but the speeding driver should have been driving slowly anyway.
Contested Parking Spot
We all know the frustration of having someone else pull into a parking spot we wanted. Sometimes, drivers try to pull into a parking spot simultaneously, and an accident results. In this case, both drivers may be at fault. However, the driver turning left may be more at fault because they should have yielded to the right-turning driver.
How to Avoid Parking Lot Accidents
Fortunately, you can take preventative measures to avoid collisions.
Be Aware Of Your Surroundings
To drive as safely as possible, look in all directions multiple times before you make any moves. Use your side and rear view mirrors to watch for cars or people in your blind spots. You should also be aware of directional arrows and signs in the parking lot. If the lot is congested, try parking in a freer area if possible.
Driving slowly and cautiously is the easiest way to avoid a parking lot accident. Reverse out of parking spots with caution and be aware of where your car is in relation to other vehicles. It would be best if you also used your turn signals to show your intentions to others.
Parking lot accident fault isn’t always clear cut. Although the situation may feel minor, you still deserve compensation if you have vehicle damage or bodily injuries from an accident. Luckily, you can contact a lawyer if you need help navigating such an incident.
If you have been injured in a Palm Beach County parking lot accident, I encourage you to contact me, Brian D. Guralnick, personally to discuss your legal rights. To learn how the injury team at Brian D. Guralnick Injury Lawyers can help you Demand More® for your injuries, call (561) 983-4395 now.
Disclaimer: You should not take any information in this blog as legal advice in any situation. If you need expertise for a specific issue of yours, contact a qualified Personal Injury attorney.