Parking Lot Accidents
Imagine you’ve gone out to the grocery store to pick up a few items for dinner. The parking lot is packed when you arrive, and so you take your time, avoiding other cars as they back out of a space or try to get back onto the main road. You find a parking spot, head inside, and then come out. With your groceries loaded in the trunk, you back out of your parking spot. But before you know it, another driver t-bones you.
Parking lots are one of the most common sites of car accidents. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that about 20% of all car accidents happen in a parking lot.
Thankfully, parking lot accidents are not known to cause serious injuries—though that is always possible—but they can cause significant vehicle damage. When someone else causes an accident, you need to know how to get compensation for injuries and damages. The team at the Hernandez Law Group, P.C. can help! We have helped countless Texas drivers get the compensation they deserve after an accident.
What Causes Accidents In a Parking Lot?
As mentioned earlier, 20% of all total car accidents occur in a parking lot. What makes them so common?
- Distracted driving: Cellphones, putting an address in the GPS, trying to beat someone to a parking spot, or conversations going on in the car can draw the driver’s attention away from what is happening around them.
- Drivers under a false sense of security: Parking lots are one of the most underestimated places for accidents because they don’t appear to have the same risks as the road. Because the conditions feel safer, many drivers relax and don’t drive as safely as they should. But parking lots present other risks, such as pedestrians, stop signs, other vehicles moving in multiple directions, and cars suddenly backing up or stopping.
- Traffic moves in multiple directions: Whether vehicles are backing out of a spot, turning the corner, driving down narrow passages, or moving across the painted line, parking lots are full of jumbled movement. This can make it difficult to know how to best proceed, and hesitation can lead to an accident.
- Drivers fail to follow traffic laws: Drivers in parking lots are notorious for running stop signs, ignoring right-of-way rules, and failing to follow traffic directions. It is extremely important to follow all traffic laws. Doing so can significantly decrease the risk of an accident.
- Poorly designed parking lots: Not all parking lots are designed well. While some allow inbound and outbound traffic to move smoothly around the parking lot, others are confusing or have visibility issues due to signage or overgrown plants such as bushes or trees. Additional complications can include poor pedestrian walking areas or poor parking lot lighting.
- Aggressive driving: The stress of parking lots can lead to road rage. Scarcity of parking spaces, another driver stealing a spot, or a car pulling out randomly and cutting someone off is all aggravations that can lead to aggressive driving. It is important to remain calm in these situations. No matter what happens, engaging in reckless driving will not aid the situation and only increases the risk of you striking another vehicle or pedestrian.
Who Has Right-of-Way In a Parking Lot?
With numerous lanes for cars to pass through, parking spots on either side of these lanes, and vehicles constantly entering and leaving the area, parking lots feel like labyrinths.
Generally, vehicles in the through lanes have the right of way. Cars backing out of their spaces must yield to drivers and pedestrians passing by. If a car backs up and a car already in the throughway hits them, the car that was backing up will most likely be held at fault. This is also true for cars entering one through lane to get into another. Vehicles already present in a through lane have the right of way unless there is a stop or yield sign indicating otherwise.
What About Left Turn Accidents?
The same rule applies to vehicles turning left either into a spot or into a new lane. If the driver turns into a vehicle traveling down the parking lane from the opposite direction, they will often be liable for failing to yield.
What About Two Vehicles Backing or Pulling Out of Spots at the Same Time?
When there are two vehicles on opposite sides trying to pull or back out of their spot simultaneously, both drivers can be held responsible. Under Texas State Law, both drivers have a duty to make sure that it is reasonably safe to back into the lane of travel before they attempt to do so.
Whichever vehicle started to back up first has the right of way as the other driver has to check before they attempt to back up. In this case, the second driver must wait for the first one to be fully pulled out of the spot and out of the way before they attempt to back up. If they fail to do so, they will most likely be held responsible for the accident.
What Should I Do After a Parking Lot Accident?
As with every car accident, the first thing to check is that both you and the other driver/pedestrian are unharmed. If someone is injured, call emergency personnel immediately to get them the care they need.
Next, call the police to file a police report. This should be done regardless of whether the accident was minor or major. A formal report must be filed if you or the other party sustained any injuries or damage. Without it, claiming the compensation you deserve will be nearly impossible, as it will be your word against the other drivers.
It is important to note that sometimes the police will not come to a parking lot accident unless there is a major injury. This is because parking lots are considered private property. In this case, make sure you write down information about the accident and go to your local police station to make an official report about the accident.
When gathering the information you need for your police report and your insurance company, make sure you get the following:
- Name of the driver and any passengers
- Driver’s license number
- Insurance information
- Contact information of the other driver
- License plate number
- Names of any witnesses, their statements, and contact information
Your insurance company, the police, and your car accident attorney need this information to help you get the compensation you deserve.
Next, take pictures of the accident. These photos should show:
- Damages to both vehicles
- Any broken glass
- Skid marks
- Property damage
Contact your Trusted Car Accident Attorney
If you have sustained injuries or significant damage to your car, contact your trusted car accident attorney at the Hernandez Law Group, P.C. Our team can help you establish fault with the negligent driver and get you the compensation you deserve. Talk to your attorney before you speak with the other driver’s insurance company, as they will try to put partial or full blame on you. Don’t let them bully you—make sure you have the dedicated team of the Hernandez Law Group, P.C. there to back you up.