Parking lot accidents are one of the most common types of accidents in the United States. In fact, one out of five car accidents happen in a parking lot. Fourteen percent of all auto insurance claims are for parking lot accidents. While most of these accidents are relatively minor fender benders, some parking lot accidents involve serious personal injury and property damage.
One of the major risks in parking lot accidents is the high number of pedestrians that are involved in these incidents. Even a minor accident between a car and a pedestrian at low speed can lead to devastating personal injuries.
The Southern California parking lot attorneys at Neale & Fhima understand that not every serious car accident happens at high speed on the open road. Our personal injury law firm handles many parking lot accidents every year.
We carefully investigate every accident, and we hold the negligent party responsible for any property damage and injuries caused. If you were hurt in a parking lot accident, contact the law office of Neale & Fhima immediately for a free review of your case.
Why Parking Lots Are Dangerous
One of the major problems with parking lots is that motorists and pedestrians have limited visibility due to the parked cars, and yet they often feel a false sense of security. Drivers and pedestrians might assume that everyone will move slowly and carefully, and this is not always so. Add that fact to having limited visibility, and parking lot accidents can be common and severe.
While most parking lots are privately owned and are not subject to regular traffic laws, all drivers have a general duty of care on the premises. All drivers are expected to drive in a safe manner and to give their insurance information if there is an accident.
Parking lot accidents are especially common when cars are backing up. You should never just use your mirrors or rear-view camera. It is very important to look over your shoulder both ways and check very carefully in both directions. If you are parked between cars or trucks that block your view, back out extremely slowly, and even honk the horn to alert other drivers.
How to Avoid Parking Lot Accidents
With a little bit of forethought and caution, you can avoid many parking lot accidents – both as a driver and as a pedestrian:
- Do not park at the end of the aisle; your car can be struck by vehicles going around the corner.
- Do not try to put a large SUV into a small space intended for compact vehicles.
- When parking, allow a lot of space on both sides so other people can open their doors without hitting your vehicle.
- Obey all crosswalks just as if it is on a city street. If you are driving in front of the store, go extremely slowly and watch for pedestrians.
- People with children, cars and carrying packages are often distracted. Stop and let them pass in front of you. But if you are a pedestrian in the same situation, never assume that cars will slow down for you.
- Watch out for cars that cut across parking rows, ignore signs or drive too fast.
Liability in Parking Lot Accidents
As noted above, drivers are expected to drive with a duty of care in parking lots. They can be held liable if they do not exercise this duty of care and injure someone – either another driver or a pedestrian.
Also, store owners are supposed to keep the parking lot safe and offer measures to prevent vehicles from crashing into stores. These serious accidents are more common than you think and kill approximately 500 people each year. Store crashes happen because of driver error, poor design of the parking lot, and failure of the owner to install bollards in front of the store.
State law also holds property owners responsible for keeping the entire premises safe for consumers, protecting them from all harms, including assault and robbery in the parking lot. Also, if the parking lot is not properly maintained – if there are snow piles blocking signs, broken pavement or poor lighting – these can increase the risk of accidents and liability in civil court for the property owner.
Contact a Southern California Parking Lot Accident Attorney
If you were hurt in a parking lot accident in Southern California as a driver, passenger or pedestrian, you have legal rights. Our personal injury attorneys will fight to win you every dollar of compensation to which you are entitled, including medical costs, lost wages, loss of consortium and pain and suffering. Please contact our office today for a free consultation.