The Basics of Parking Lot Accidents

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Imagine a car accident. How and where do you see it taking place? If you are anything like most people, you probably pictured a disastrous crash somewhere on the road. In reality, auto accidents can happen anywhere—even in seemingly safe places like parking lots.

Most people do not think that parking lot accidents are that serious. After all, drivers are generally going at such low speeds in parking lots—what is the worst that could happen? Maybe a fender bender or two, but not much else.

Believe it or not, this type of complacency can become dangerous. Adopting a blase attitude towards parking lot accidents undermines how serious they can be. Just like any other type of automobile accident, parking lot accidents have the potential to be extraordinarily dangerous.

Because parking lots are so congested and busy by nature, parking lot accidents can create even more difficulties for other drivers. They can also raise issues with law enforcement, insurance companies, and even victims when it comes to establishing fault and collecting compensation. 

Parking lot accidents can quickly become messy and complicated, especially since there are not always any applicable, clear right-of-way laws. These sorts of ambiguities make them different from standard roadway car accidents. If you have been involved in a parking lot accident, it may be in your best interest to call an experienced auto accident lawyer.

What Are the Most Common Parking Lot Accidents?

In most cases, you can pretty much know what to expect at any given road or intersection. Parking lots, however, are not always so uniform. They can be designed in several different ways. In any case, all parking lots tend to see some of these types of accidents.

#1: Two cars collide by backing into each other at the same time. This usually occurs when two drivers are backing out of parking spaces that are opposite to each other. In most cases, the two drivers are trying to merge into the same lane of travel. They do not see each other and collide as a result. Both drivers will likely be ruled to be at fault in such a case.

The Basics of Parking Lot Accidents#2: One car backs out of or pulls forward from a parking spot and into a passing car. The driver of the backing car does not see the other car. This may be because they are in their blind spot or simply because they did not check their mirrors. The driver of the passing car is moving through the traffic lane and does not have any time to react. In this situation, both drivers may be equally at fault. Generally speaking, a car that is in the traffic lane has the right-of-way. However, this depends on whether or not the driver ensured that the way was clear before proceeding.

#3: Two cars collide while both attempting to enter the same parking space. In these situations, both drivers feel as though they have the right to the parking space. They crash because neither are willing to yield. It is a little tricky to establish fault in these situations since it is not determined by which driver reached the parking space first. Rather, it is determined by who was turning right into the space and who was turning left, across traffic. Just like with intersections, the driver turning across traffic has a legal obligation to yield to any oncoming vehicles.

#4: One car rear-ends a vehicle after it stops suddenly. There are many reasons a car may stop suddenly. For example, the driver may be stopping for a stop sign or pedestrian. The car behind may be caught suddenly off guard and end up rear-ending it. In these situations, the second vehicle will almost always be deemed at-fault. This is because you must always leave adequate following space between you and the car in front of you in case of an emergency. Doing so can prevent rear-end accidents from even occurring at all.

Are Pedestrians at Risk in Parking Lots?

Most parking lot accidents are, indeed, minor vehicle collisions. However, it may come as a surprise to learn that pedestrians are probably even more at risk in parking lots than drivers are. It is only natural if you think about it: Drivers are constantly trying to squeeze into tight spaces, and many may not always be fully focused on what is going on around them.

Drivers may be distracted by their phones, especially in parking lots, where they do not feel like they have to pay as much attention as they would on the road. In reality, it is not uncommon for parking lots to be full of narrow lanes, tight corners, and sharp turns.

It can be difficult to spot any pedestrians amongst all this. This is true whether the driver in question is backing out of a space or otherwise navigating the lot. Several studies suggest that parking lots may be among one of the most dangerous places for a pedestrian. In fact, in 2013, AAA Mid-Atlantic reported that 30% of pedestrian accidents in the region actually took place in parking lots.

A car does not have to be going fast to hurt you. Being hit by a car going at any speed can lead to disastrous results for any pedestrian. There are certain precautions that you may be able to take, like keeping your ears and eyes alert and attentive while walking through a parking lot. Unfortunately, there is little you can do if you get caught by an inattentive driver.

Seeking Legal Help

If you have recently been involved in a parking lot accident, we at Injury Victim Law may be able to help. Though we are a Colorado-based firm, our team of experts and investigators is ready and available to assist personal injury victims all across the country. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our seasoned nationwide car accident attorneys. We have helped countless clients resolve their cases. We can help you too.

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