Unfortunately, highway crashes receive a lot more attention compared to parking lot accidents as they often include high speed, overwhelming damages, severe injuries, and even death. The lack of high speed often provides drivers with a false sense of security when they are driving in a parking lot.
However feeble as they may seem, parking lot accidents can send your car insurance premium through the roof and ruin your driving record. They can also lead to serious injuries and even death. In fact, parking lot accidents happen more frequently than you think. On average, at least 60,000 Americans are injured and more than 500 die in the 50,000 plus crashes in parking lots and garages every year.
- Common Causes of Parking Lot Accidents
Parking lot accidents can result from a variety of reasons. Here are some of the common causes:
- Poor maintenance of parking lots can lead to potentially dangerous situations resulting in slip-and-fall accidents.
- In a few cases, the unique layout of the parking lot can create blind spots that may lead to accidents.
- The lack of traffic laws can contribute to reckless driving, resulting in accidents.
- More often than not, drivers fail to notice pedestrians and other vehicles as they are too focused on finding a good parking spot.
- Most parking lots are congested, particularly on holidays and weekends, increasing the possibilities of a fender bender.
- Dangerous areas in the parking lot, such as places with low visibility or places where snow or debris accumulates, can result in accidents.
The bottom line is, just like highway crashes, most parking lot accidents also occur because either the driver or the pedestrian or both are distracted. So, the next time you are pulling into a parking lot, avoid any distractions and comply with the speed limits.
- Common Accident Scenarios
Although a variety of accidents can happen in a parking lot, most fall into one of the following five types. These five accident scenarios include:
Two Drivers Backup Simultaneously and Collide
This type of accident occurs when two drivers back up simultaneously and collide as they both fail to notice each other’s vehicles. Chances are both drivers will be held responsible for the accident. However, determining who is at fault can be difficult if there are no eyewitnesses.
One Forward Moving Vehicle Collides into Another
In this type of accident, one vehicle pulling out of a parking lot slams into another, whether moving or parked. This often happens if the driver is trying to get out of the parking spot hastily. As the right of way is given to vehicles moving in the traffic lane, the driver pulling out of the parking spot will be held responsible for the accident.
This type of accident involves one car rear-ending into another that suddenly stops at the stop sign or yield sign. Even if the car in front stops suddenly, the driver in the second is more likely to take the fall because you are expected to maintain a safe distance between vehicles to avoid rear-end collisions.
Two Drivers Race to Get the Same Parking Spot and Collide
This type of accident occurs when two drivers compete for the same parking spot and end up colliding into each other. In such cases, usually, both drivers are held accountable for the accident. However, several factors such as speed of each vehicle, the distance between the cars prior to the accident, and the point of collision will determine which driver had the right of way. Determining the outcome of compensation claims involving this type of accident is often difficult.
Driver Hits Pedestrians
Distracted driving is often the cause of this type of accident. Drivers who are texting or talking on the phone may hit a pedestrian, resulting in fatal consequences. In a few cases, the pedestrians may narrowly escape with minor injuries, but this type of accident almost often leads to severe injuries or even death.
However, sometimes pedestrians can also be held responsible for such accidents because of distracted walking. They can get injured as a result of texting, talking or listening to music when walking in the parking lots.
- Determining Fault Can Be Difficult
As it happens, more than one factor, apart from human error, can contribute to a parking lot accident. Plus, when it comes to these accidents, rules of the road don’t apply, as most parking lots are private properties. So, determining who is at fault can be easier said than done. Fortunately, most parking lot accidents result in minor injuries and damages and hence, may not warrant filing a compensation claim.
However, the situation becomes much different if the accident results in serious injuries or fatalities. In such cases, you must consult with a qualified personal injury attorney to decide the course of legal action.
- Police May Not Respond to Parking Lot Accidents
Whether or not you should report a parking lot accident to the police is a highly-debated topic. Usually, if the damages are minor and all parties involved are ready to settle the situation by exchanging the insurance information, you may not need to call the police.
Police may not respond to parking lot accidents as these are private properties and the rules of the road do not apply. However, you should immediately call the police if someone is injured or the accident results in an impending law and order situation.
Even if police does not respond to a minor parking lot accident, you can still file a police report in the nearest police station. Though you may have to run this errand on your own time, this step might prove crucial, particularly if the driver at fault doesn’t have insurance or refuses to exchange contact and insurance information with you.
Though parking lot accidents occur as frequently as highway crashes, they are rarely noticed by the public as they seldom lead to serious injuries or damage. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to deal with adversarial insurance claims or even a possible compensation lawsuit. That’s why it is important to gather all the relevant information about parking lot accidents for protecting your rights. Hopefully, the above tips can give you a clearer idea about parking lot accidents.
About the Author: Edward Garcia is a freelance writer and blogger from Chicago, IL who loves to write about varied topics including law, finance, and technology. He loves traveling and adventure sports.