Who Was at Fault? Know the Rules of the Parking Lot
To understand who was at fault in a parking lot accident, it is best to know the rules of the parking lot. There are through lanes that drivers use to get to the parking lanes that have parking spaces on both sides of them. A rule of thumb is that the right-of-way is given to vehicles in the through lanes, which means people exiting parking lanes must yield for these drivers. If a driver pulls out of a parking lane in front of another vehicle in a through lane and an accident results, the driver exiting the parking lane is at fault. The only time there is an exception is when the driver in the through lane doesn’t obey a stop or yield sign.
The most common collisions occur when drivers are pulling out of parking spots. This is where it is difficult to prove who the at-fault driver is. It’s the responsibility of both drivers to make sure everyone is safe. Drivers in the parking lanes need to ensure no one is backing out. If they see someone backing out of a spot, they must stop and allow ample room. If a car is directly behind a parked car that is backing out, it’s the responsibility of the driver backing out to not hit the car behind them.
If two vehicles are backing out on each side of the parking lane, it’s important for the drivers to observe who started pulling out first. If there is a collision, then the person at fault is the one that was backing out second. Unfortunately, there are times where it isn’t clear who was backing out first. If you are involved in this type of accident, don’t assume that you were at fault. Talking to a parking lot accident lawyer at The Eichholz Law Firm can shed light on the situation in ways you might not be aware of.
The Importance of Determining Fault
It’s important to determine fault because the car insurance company needs to know what damage to cover and what not to cover. You also need to know if you have grounds for a personal injury claim if you’re injured. The possibility of making a claim is why it’s important not to say anything at the scene of the accident that could suggest you did anything wrong. Even if you believe you’re to blame, don’t admit fault because the outcome of the case could surprise you. Claim investigators will sort out matters and so will your personal injury attorney.
Factors that can help determine fault include:
- The driver that rear-ends another car is at fault
- Hitting a car in a parking lot while making a left turn into a parking space constitutes fault
- Backing out of a parking spot and hitting a car in the parking lane constitutes fault
- Fault may be shared when two cars going for the same parking spot collide
- Two cars in opposite spaces backing out at the same time and colliding could result in shared fault if it isn’t determined who backed out first
- The driver that violates a stop or yield sign is at fault in an accident
- Entering a through lane from a parking lane when there is oncoming through traffic means the person leaving the parking lane is at fault in an accident
Does the parking Lot Owner have Any Obligation?
As mentioned earlier, the outcome of a case might surprise you. This is why you don’t want to say anything that could be perceived as admitting guilt. There are times when the perceived driver at fault isn’t completely at fault because of poor parking lot maintenance. If the property or parking lot owner fails to maintain the parking lot where an accident occurred, then they could be partially or fully at fault. In this case, premises liability law comes into play. If the parking lot is not properly designed, hazardous, not properly marked or uneven, the parking lot owner can be held responsible depending on the nature of the accident.
Dealing with Pedestrian Accidents in Parking Lots
According to the National Safety Council, 66% of drivers state they would make phone calls while driving in parking lots. Texting, grooming, using social media, emailing, taking videos or watching them, and programming GPS systems are major contributors to pedestrian-related accidents in parking lots.
Although parking lot accidents are considered low-speed impacts, it is a different scenario when that low-speed vehicle comes into contact with a person. The injury can still be catastrophic or even fatal. Most parking lot accidents involving pedestrians are the driver’s fault. However, there are times when pedestrians are at fault, especially if they are using their cell phone while walking and not paying attention to what is happening around them.
What to do After a Parking Lot Car Accident
Right after the accident, it’s important to call the police although a parking lot is private property. Law enforcement’s job is to gather information and make sure the area is properly blocked off and safe. The police report is helpful because important information about the accident is recorded, including the names of those involved, the insurance information for each driver, and what witnesses say happened. However, there is no guarantee that police officers will show up to a car accident in a parking lot unless there are serious injuries or risks to public safety. If law enforcement doesn’t show up, exchange insurance information with the other party and immediately call your car accident attorney because you might have a claim against them.
Other things that you can do in the absence of law enforcement include:
- Get the names and contact information of witnesses
- Take photos with your smartphone
- Find out if the establishment that owns the parking lot has video surveillance of the area where the accident occurred
- Get the names of passengers in the other vehicle
- Log information about the other vehicle involved in the accident
Having this information will help with any insurance claims filed against you, as well as your own filing to deal with the damage. You can also give this information to your attorney who will properly investigate the accident so a strong case can be built on your behalf.
File a Parking Lot Accident Lawsuit
If you were injured in a parking lot at either a pedestrian or a driver, you may be eligible to file a parking lot accident lawsuit to receive financial compensation for your injuries. Depending on your specific circumstances, you may be able to file a claim against a driver, pedestrian, or the property owner.
Call 855-551-1019 or fill out an online form for a free case evaluation.
- Drivers-Ed Staff. “Parking Lot Safety: What New Drivers Need to Know”, DriversEd.com, https://driversed.com/trending/parking-lot-safety-for-new-drivers/. Accessed August 5, 2019.
- Neil Goodman. “Who Is at Fault For a Parking Lot Car Accident?”, Nolo, https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/who-is-at-fault-for-a-parking-lot-car-accident.html. Accessed August 5, 2019.
- FreeAdvice Staff. “Who Is at Fault for an Accident in a Parking Lot?”, FreeAdvice Legal, https://accident-law.freeadvice.com/accident-law/auto/parking-lot-auto-accident-laibility.htm. August 5, 2019.