According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 20 percent of all auto accidents happen in commercial parking lots. Parking lot accidents may most frequently be just property damage, but there are those occasions when injuries and even death occur.
Parking lot accidents have occurred between two or more vehicles, vehicles and pedestrians, vehicles and shopping carts and hazards in the lot itself. Determining fault is difficult. In a case in 2013, Ramsey v. Home Depot, the First District Court of Appeal in Florida found that the property owner was not required to warn visitors about conditions that are “open and obvious” and not inherently dangerous following a suit by Mrs. Ramsey who tripped over a wheel stop at Home Depot while carrying packages.
Some more common parking lot accidents and potential fault include:
- Two drivers backing up into one another. Since both drivers should be looking carefully before backing out, both drivers may be found to be equally at fault.
- One driver backing out of a parking space into an on-coming vehicle. In this instance, the driver backing out may be at fault for not looking to be sure no one was coming.
- Two vehicles going for the same parking space. They may both be found at fault or the driver pulling in from the left, crossing the stream of traffic, may be at fault.
- A vehicle rear-ends another vehicle at a stop sign. The driver who failed to stop behind the driver who was stopped, or stopping, could be held at fault.
- A pedestrian is hurt or a vehicle is damaged when using the parking lot. The parking lot owner, or any of its contractors, may be at fault for leaving a parking lot in a condition which would, or could, cause injury to a pedestrian or damage to a vehicle.
What to do if you are involved in a parking lot accident?
As with any other accident, the first thing to do is to check for injuries. If there are injuries, immediately call 911. Also, notify the police so they can file an accident report. Exchange information from anyone involved in the accident. This information includes name, contact and insurance information and vehicle, or vehicles’, license plate number(s). If this should involve a store’s property, get the name, contact and insurance information from the store manager. If a pedestrian is involved, or witnesses are available, also get their contact information.
Make sure to take notes which would include the date, time, weather and conditions in the parking lot and what happened. You should also take your own photos, if appropriate, of the accident scene. Things change and memories fade. Photos are important.
How to avoid a parking lot accident?
ABC News 20/20 in April 2014 reported on the Parking Lot Survival Guide: AAA's 6 Tips for Staying Safe
- Stay Alert:Watch for cars cutting across parking lots and speeding through aisles. Take it slow and always use your turn signal. Avoid two-way lanes whenever possible.
- Mind Your Manners:Don't take up two spots by parking over the lines.
- Protect Your Car:Parking in congested areas increases the likelihood of scratches and dents from car doors or shopping carts. Park away from buildings during the day, but avoid secluded areas at night. If you can find a spot at the end of the row next to an island, take it - this is the best place to park your car. However, if there is no island, don't park in an end space because this will leave your car vulnerable to turning traffic. Park in front of a light pole, if possible. The pole will protect your car from a driver who might pull too far forward and bash its front end, and the light will give you added security at night.
- Walk Back Safely:When leaving or returning to your car, don't dart between parked cars. Listen for cars and look for the illuminated brake lights of cars backing up. Pedestrians can be just as guilty as drivers when it comes to disobeying posted signs or not paying close enough attention to their surroundings. Protect yourself on foot, as well as when you're driving.
- Be Observant:When backing out, make sure you scan a full 360 degrees - there may be shoppers to your left and right, or other cars backing out at the same time. If it's possible and legal in your area, pull through if there are two open nose-to-nose spaces. Being able to pull out head first instead of backing out of a spot will keep you safe.
- Mail With Caution:If you have packages to send, keep in mind that post office parking lots have the highest frequency of accidents.
“Parking lot accidents happen frequently and avoiding them is always the first preference. However, if you are involved in a parking lot accident, make sure to contact Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A. for assistance because knowing who is at fault may not be obvious,” said Fort Myers Vehicle Accident Attorney, Randall Spivey.
Fort Myers Vehicle Accident Attorney, Randall L. Spivey is a Board Certified Trial Attorney – the highest recognition for competence bestowed by the Florida Bar and a distinction earned by just one (1%) percent of Florida attorneys. He has handled over 2,000 personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout Florida. For a free and confidential consultation to discuss your legal rights, contact the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A., in Lee County at 239.337.7483 or toll free at 1.888.477.4839,or by email to Randall@SpiveyLaw.com. Visit SpiveyLaw.com for more information. You can contact Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.in Charlotte County at 941.764.7748 and in Collier County 239.793.7748.