Who is to blame for parking lot crashes?

When you head to the supermarket, shopping mall, concert hall or convention center, you expect the car that got you there will be patiently awaiting your return, having arrived at your destination without a problem. But every year, motorists get much more than they bargained for – and not in a good way.

That’s because for tens of thousands of Americans every year, parking lots are the site of accidents, topping as many as 50,000 annually, according to the National Safety Council. While some of these incidents happen when the owners are away from their vehicles, others occur upon arrival, leaving 60,000 injured, some of them pedestrians.

When you’re away from your car, the party responsible is obviously the motorist who struck it. But in cases when there is more than one driver, who’s at fault is often a game of “he said, she said.” How do you know who is really to blame? There are a few general rules, which are important to know should your injuries require medical attention.

Fault typically goes to car moving

Stop-and-go traffic is the norm in parking lots, as motorists wait to occupy spaces being vacated. If a driver is moving and another isn’t, it’s almost always the one who is in motion that will be blamed. As always, there are exceptions to this rule, such as if a driver is illegally parked and the positioning of the vehicle was such that an accident was likely.

Parked cars must yield

Say you’re backing up and you collide into a vehicle that is passing by. Because that driver is already in the lane, they have the right of way. This is just like what the rules are when out on the street, as vehicles that are on main roads have the go ahead – assuming there aren’t any traffic lights.

Parked cars must yield

The lanes positioned between parking spaces are known as “feeders.”

Understand lane differences 

Parking lots vary of course, but generally, the lanes there fall into one of two categories: Feeder and thoroughfare. The former are lanes that sit between where the parked cars – which tend to be smaller – while the latter are large and exit onto highways and streets. Those who are in thoroughfares have the right of way, meaning that people in feeder lanes need to wait their turn until it’s safe for them to enter, whether backing up or going head first.

Shared blame is possible

Occasionally, “perfect storms” taking place in parking lots, where instead of one vehicle moving while the other isn’t, or a motorist from a feeder lane enters into a thoroughfare prematurely, two motorists back into each other, for example. Given the frequency with which people are on their phones, not paying attention to their surroundings this type of thing is pretty common. Usually, fault will be split 50-50, although there may be circumstances where one party is more responsible than the other.

Speeding may play a factor

Speed limits aren’t only on streets and highways; they can also be found in parking lots, even though the presumption is to always drive slowly. But in cases where drivers are exceeding the posted limit and there’s an accident, the one that’s speeding may be at fault, even in cases where the other driver may be to blame, such as backing out of a parked space. State law may be the ultimate decider.

If you’re injured in a parking lot accident that required treatment, the discovery process can play a big role in whether you’re entitled to compensation. Glofin can provide you with the funding you need to hire an accident attorney or fund your medical expenses if a settlement has been reached. Fill out an application to see if you qualify.