Are Car Accidents in Parking Lots Common?

Last updated Thursday, November 16th, 2023

Did you know that approximately 20% of reported vehicle accidents occur in parking lots? Parking lot accidents are more common than you might think, but understanding the different scenarios and factors contributing to these incidents can help determine fault and seek solutions. We’ll unravel the truth behind parking lot accidents and provide practical tips for prevention and navigating the legal process.

Parking Lot Accidents: The Reality

Car accidents in parking lots are a common occurrence, with an astonishing 20% of all reported vehicle accidents occur in these areas. Many factors can lead to these accidents, including:

  • distractions such as errands, noisy children, or cell phone usage
  • lack of attention from drivers
  • failure to yield the right of way
  • speeding or reckless driving
  • poor visibility or lighting in the parking lot
  • inadequate signage or markings
  • improper parking lot design or layout

Additionally, the private property owner is responsible for providing a safe driving environment, including ensuring proper traffic signs are in place.

Common Parking Lot Accident Scenarios

Numerous scenarios often lead to parking lot car accidents. Some of these include collisions between moving vehicles, impacts with parked cars, and pedestrian incidents involving a parked car. Drivers leaving parking spots, for instance, are typically held responsible if they cause an accident with a moving vehicle.

Another common scenario is when two cars collide while vying for the same parking space. In such cases, factors like right-of-way, points of impact, and direction of turning are considered when determining liability.

Factors Contributing to Parking Lot Accidents

A multitude of factors play a role in parking lot accidents. Driver negligence, such as texting while driving, is a common cause. Reduced visibility, which can result from inadequate lighting, obstructions, or poor design, also plays a role.

Parking lot owners have a legal obligation to design and maintain a reasonably secure parking lot, which includes proper signage to prevent accidents.

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Understanding Liability in Parking Lot Accidents

Establishing fault in a parking lot accidents often presents complex challenges. The driver responsible for the accident or who created hazardous conditions is typically held liable. Insurance companies utilize fault determination rules to ascertain accountability, which can involve the 50/50 rule (both drivers share the fault in a parking situation) or modified comparative or contributory negligence laws (each involved party can be assigned a percentage of the blame).

We delve deeper into right-of-way rules and situations where fault is shared.

Right-of-Way Rules in Parking Lots

Fault in parking lot accidents is often determined by right-of-way rules. Adhering to these rules can be beneficial when filing an insurance claim. Here are some key points to remember:

  • Drivers must yield when entering parking lots.
  • Pedestrians and vehicles already in the lot have the right of way.
  • Those on through roads and main aisles have priority over vehicles exiting parking spaces.

To learn about the official right-of-way regulations for parking lots in your state, consult your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website or the official state statutes, especially when it comes to a legally parked car.

Shared Fault Situations

In certain parking lot accidents, responsibility may be shared between both drivers. These shared fault situations can involve comparative negligence (assigning a percentage of fault to each party) or contributory negligence (barring a party from recovering compensation if they contributed to the accident).

To minimize the risk of shared fault situations in oncoming traffic, it is essential to remain vigilant, follow traffic regulations, and be courteous to other drivers.

Gathering Evidence After a Parking Lot Accident

Collecting evidence meticulously post a parking lot accident is a key step in establishing fault and building a compelling case for compensation. This process involves documenting the scene, obtaining a police report, and ensuring all necessary information is exchanged between the parties involved.

Documenting the Scene

Following a parking lot accident, here are some important steps to take at the accident scene:

  1. Document the scene by taking photos of the damage, the location of the vehicles, and any injuries sustained.
  2. Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver.
  3. Gather information from any witnesses who may have seen the accident. Witnesses can play a significant role in determining fault, providing insight into the circumstances surrounding the accident.

When interacting with witnesses, establish a positive rapport and make them feel comfortable.

Obtaining a Police Report

A police report proves to be a significant piece of evidence in establishing fault and liaising with insurance companies following a parking lot accident. To obtain a police report, contact local authorities promptly and request an officer to attend the scene of the accident. The report typically contains pertinent details such as the names of drivers, passengers, and witnesses, along with insurance information.

It can serve as evidence to support your claim and aid in settlement negotiations.

Dealing with Insurance Companies

The insurance process post a parking lot accident can be daunting. Understanding the steps involved, such as filing a claim and negotiating with insurance adjusters, can help ensure a fair outcome.

Filing an Insurance Claim

While filing an insurance claim post a parking lot accident, it’s necessary to provide specific details about the incident, including the date, time, and location of the accident, as well as the names and contact information of any witnesses. Be prepared for potential challenges, such as delays in making a claim or difficulty obtaining information from other drivers and witnesses.

Submitting the claim without delay is of utmost importance.

Negotiating with Insurance Adjusters

Insurance adjusters benefit financially by reducing the amount of money they payout for claims. This creates a vested interest in minimizing payments where possible. Maintaining a calm and professional demeanor when interacting with insurance adjusters is vital for securing a fair settlement. Document all conversations and keep a comprehensive record of all evidence related to the incident.

If an equitable agreement cannot be reached with the insurance adjuster, it may be prudent to engage an attorney to help you navigate the legal process and ensure a fair settlement is attained.

Seeking Legal Assistance

Pursuing legal assistance post a parking lot accident can prove advantageous in ensuring a fair outcome and proper compensation. An attorney can provide guidance throughout the legal process, help gather evidence, and negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf.

When to Consult an Attorney

Engaging an attorney at the earliest after a parking lot accident is highly advised. If you have sustained an injury as a result of another’s negligence, enlisting the aid of an experienced car accident lawyer, well-versed in car accident law, can maximize your chances of success in the court system.

The attorney can inform you of your legal rights and offer guidance on how to move forward with your case.

How an Attorney Can Help

An attorney can offer extensive support in navigating the legal landscape, gathering evidence, and completing paperwork. They can also help in determining liability and pursuing appropriate remuneration. Moreover, an attorney can negotiate with your insurance company on your behalf, ensuring that you obtain the compensation you are entitled to.

Their objective is to help you achieve a reasonable settlement for your claim.

Tips for Preventing Parking Lot Accidents

Taking steps to prevent parking lot accidents is key to safeguarding both drivers and pedestrians. To reduce the risk of accidents, follow safe driving practices, heighten awareness, and advocate for improved parking lot design and signage. Additionally, be vigilant of other drivers and be ready to take evasive action if necessary.

Finally, always use turn signals when changing lanes or turning.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is at fault in a parking lot accident? 

You have to prove negligence in two key aspects to establish the liability of the driver at fault:

  • The driver at-fault failed to uphold their duty of care to you.
  • Their actions directly led to your injuries and damages.

Do I need to contact the police after a parking lot accident? 

Georgia laws demand that anyone involved in a car accident must call 911 if there are any injuries, fatalities, or property damages over $500.

Even if you’re not injured or there’s minimal damage, you should still report it. The police will create a car accident report and document the accident as a neutral authority, which will be greatly helpful in processing your claim.

What should I do if I witness a parking lot accident? 

You should pull over at a safe distance from the accident scene and call 911. Assist the injured drivers or pedestrians if needed.

If you can’t pull over, you can call 911 and request the authorities report to the scene.

What are my legal options after a parking lot accident? 

If you’re injured in a parking lot accident or face any property damages, you can seek the following types of compensation:

  • Past and projected medical expenses
  • Rehab costs
  • Property damage
  • Lost wages
  • Temporarily or permanently taking away your ability to work efficiently
  • Disabilities or scarring
  • Mental suffering

How can I prevent parking lot accidents?

Driving in parking lots as consciously as you drive on the roads is essential. 

Here are some important measures you can take to avoid parking lot accident:

  • Choose a spot away from the parking lot entrance/exit. Park your car in an area with minimal congestion. 
  • Ensure your car fits properly in your parking space.
  • Check your blind spots when backing up your car or turning in the parking lot. 
  • Follow lane discipline inside the parking lot. Avoid driving diagonally or cutting corners.

What type of crashes happen most often in parking lots?

Accidents involving pedestrians and vehicles while backing out of spots, bumping into other vehicles, or people leaving their spaces are among the most common incidents occurring in parking lots.

How common are parking lot accidents?

Parking lot accidents are quite common, occurring in approximately 20% of reported vehicle accidents.

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