Parking lots can be busy, and sometimes confusing to navigate. You must. pay close attention to other vehicles, pedestrians, and workers in close proximity. Many vehicles are backing into and out of parking spaces. Those vehicles are often surrounded by stationary vehicles blocking the driver’s view. Backing out with a limited view of the parking lot can add to the potential for a parking lot accident.
A parking lot accident could happen no matter how careful you are. The following could help you to better understand what to do if you become a survivor of a parking lot accident.
The silver lining of parking lot accidents is that they usually happen at very low speeds compared to road-going accidents. But even low-speed accidents can cause damage and serious injuries.
Parking lot accidents also can catch you off-guard and unprepared. When parking lot accidents happen, damages occur. Commonly occurring damages include:
Property damage is the most obvious result of a parking lot accident that involves two or more vehicles. It is possible to total a car in a parking lot accident.
If the cost to repair the damage is more than the vehicle is worth, an auto insurer would total it. When an insurer declares a vehicle to be a total loss, the owner usually gets a settlement amount based on the current market value as determined by an insurance adjuster.
A parking lot accident might cause you to suffer injuries that require time away from work. That time away from work represents lost income. And you can file claims for lost income and similar out-of-pocket costs, like renting a vehicle.
Medical costs could run high, especially if you need to take a trip to the emergency room. If an ambulance takes you to the hospital, the cost could be high.
Anything that your health insurance does not cover would count as damages caused by the accident. So would any pain and suffering that you might experience due to the accident.
Parking lot accidents can include head-on collisions and rear-end collisions, like road-going accidents. The different layout of a parking lot may mean an accident happens when two cars back into each other, or a car exiting a parking space T-bones another vehicle while it is passing by.
A single-vehicle accident might happen if you back into a light pole or another object. Sideswipes, fender-benders, and other relatively minor collisions could occur. But they all can cause a significant amount of damage.
And vehicles very easily could collide with pedestrians. That could cause very serious and potentially life-threatening injuries. Parking lots are paved and have many solid objects.
A pedestrian who is struck by a vehicle could suffer a head injury or another type of serious injury. If the pedestrian is very young or very old, being struck by a vehicle at low speeds could be deadly.
Parking lots are private property, so normal traffic laws do not apply. Any traffic controls that you see are merely suggestions, not lawful traffic controls. That includes any stop signs or lane markings that you see.
But just because there are no traffic signals does not mean you can ignore common sense and drive unreasonably. A judge likely would rule that a reasonable person would abide by the various traffic controls placed in a parking lot to improve safety. Someone who ignores traffic controls might be deemed to have driven negligently. That would make that driver liable for damages.
One of the most dangerous things you can do in a parking lot is to drive across the designated parking spots. Doing so could block another driver’s view of your vehicle, leading to an accident.
Most drivers cut across parking lanes when there obviously are no vehicles in the immediate vicinity. But some drivers will do so where other vehicles are parked. That can increase the odds of an accident. A motorist who drives against the parking lot layout may be declared to have caused any resulting accident, as would someone who drives at an excessively high rate of speed.
The owners of the parking lot also might be liable for causing an accident. Poor maintenance of the parking facilities might make it more dangerous for motorists.
A parking lot might be especially dark due to lights that are burned out. Damaged pavement might force drivers to veer out of their traffic lane and hit another vehicle. Ice buildup might cause a vehicle to lose traction and hit other vehicles.
The owners of parking lots might negligently maintain the premises. If a condition that should not exist causes a parking lot accident, the owner or any vendors in charge of maintaining the parking area might be found liable.
If you are involved in a parking lot accident that you did not cause, some simple steps might help to hold the at-fault driver accountable. It starts with exchanging insurance and contact information with the other driver.
You should take some photos of the accident scene and the damage to both vehicles. If any witnesses are willing to go on the record, you should obtain their contact information.
Many parking lots have video cameras. Footage of the accident could help to determine which driver caused the accident.
Because parking lot accidents happen on private property, the police are unlikely to get involved. So you will have to compile your own accident report and provide supporting evidence when filing an insurance claim.
If the other motorist falsely accuses you of causing the accident, an experienced car accident lawyer could help to prove the other driver caused the accident.
If you recently survived a parking lot accident, our experienced Delaware car accident lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A., can help. You can call 302-656-5445 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation at one of our law offices in Wilmington and Millsboro, Delaware. We represent clients in Dover, New Castle County, Sussex County, and throughout Delaware.