Parking Lot Accidents: Who’s at Fault?
Most of us have experienced backing out of a parking space and realizing a car was right behind us or a pedestrian we didn’t see. It can cause that feeling of relief that comes with a near-miss.
While you may think of highways and high speeds as places you are most likely to have an accident, parking lots are actually dangerous places. According to the National Safety Council’s most recent statistics, nearly 15,600 people were injured or killed in parking lot car accidents across the country.
If you have been injured as a pedestrian or while in a motor vehicle in a parking lot or garage in Houston, Alvin, Bacliff, Clear Lake, Dickinson, Friendswood, Kemah, League City, Pasadena, Santa Fe, Seabrook, South Houston, or Webster, Texas, reach out to our attorney to discuss a potential personal injury claim. If someone was at fault for the accident that caused your injuries, Jose Orihuela, Attorney at Law, can help you seek fair compensation for your damages.
What Are the Most Common Accidents that Happen in Parking Lots?
Parking lot accidents almost always involve motor vehicles, but the deadliest also involve pedestrians. Some of the most common include:
Cars backing into pedestrians walking down the aisle;
Cars striking pedestrians crossing through lanes;
Cars backing into each other when leaving parking spaces;
One car backing out of a parking space and into another vehicle in the through lane;
Cars colliding when neither yield to the other at intersections; and,
Two cars colliding as they both attempt to enter the same parking space.
Vehicle speeds, driver distraction, and pedestrian vigilance and agility are critical factors contributing to the severity of any of these parking lot accidents.
Who Has the Right of Way in Parking Lots?
Establishing fault will hinge on the determination of who has the right of way in a parking lot. An experienced car accident attorney will fully investigate the circumstances of the impact, using security camera footage, crash reconstruction analysis, and witness statements, among other methods. This is often the only way to establish the fault of someone who injured you in a parking lot accident.
Unlike on the roadways, pedestrians generally always have the right of way in parking lots. They should use marked crosswalks; however, there are few marked crosswalks in parking lots. The pedestrian’s right of way comes down to the fact that they are no match for a vehicle.
Of course, vehicles must obey all posted stop and yield signs, as well as arrows marking driving directions down aisles. In general, vehicles traveling in the through lanes have the right of way over vehicles backing out of parking spaces.
Who Can Be at Fault?
Who’s at fault in a parking lot accident can potentially be anyone who uses or maintains the parking lot. The following gets into specifics of three major parties at play in parking lot accidents:
Drivers of motor vehicles can be at fault in accident cases when they are driving too fast, being distracted, not using safety equipment such as rearview and side mirrors and backup cameras, and failing to yield the right of way to pedestrians and other vehicles. Drivers owe others in the parking lot a duty of care. If they breach that responsibility, and someone is injured as a result, they are financially responsible for the damages the victim incurs.
Pedestrians can also be at fault, bearing full or partial responsibility for causing an accident. They, too, owe a duty of care to others using the parking lot. As such, they should use crosswalks where available, not dart out in front of cars, and traverse the parking lot with vigilance. A car backing into a pedestrian may be negligent, but the pedestrian should be paying attention to vehicle movements as well. Under the Texas modified comparative fault rule, the pedestrian could be assigned some percentage of fault for their injuries. As long as that fault is 50% or less, the pedestrian can still pursue a personal injury claim against the vehicle driver.
Parking lot owners can also be at fault for accidents under premises liability laws. They have a duty to maintain safe premises at all times for those who use them. If your personal injury attorney can prove a breach of that duty, the owners can be held responsible for your damages.
Poorly designed parking lots, failure to remove snow, ice, and other hazards such as potholes, and inadequate lighting can place liability on the parking lot owner. So can a lack of crosswalks, stop signs, directional markers, a lack of marked handicap zones, and obstacles and designs that create blind spots create hazardous conditions.
Personalized Support After Your Accident
Parking lots and garages may not be the standard roadway, but the duty of care nonetheless applies to them. Where there is a duty of care, and when a breach by someone causes an accident that injures someone else, victims deserve compensation.
If you have been injured or a loved one incapacitated or killed in a parking lot accident in Houston, Texas, or the surrounding area, don’t give up without fighting back. Call Jose Orihuela, Attorney at Law, to schedule a free case consultation today.