Parking Lot Crashes: What You Need to Know

Did you know that 20% of all crashes happen in parking lots? Thankfully, most of these are not serious incidents, given the lower speeds. However, this is not always the case, particularly when it comes to pedestrian-involved accidents.

There are some key differences in parking lot crashes that set them apart from typical motor vehicle accidents. Notably, it can be more complicated to determine who’s at fault. And, as most parking lots or garages are privately owned, you might find yourself also dealing with a property owner.

In our post today, we’ll cover some of the basic things you should know if you end up in a parking lot crash. However, feel free to call one of our injury attorneys now if you need targeted legal advice. (It’s always free to ask for a case evaluation, in case you’re wondering!)

Why Parking Lot Crashes Happen

Think of a typical busy mall or grocery store parking lot. You’re likely to see cars vying for spots, families coming and going. Sprinkle in an occasional cyclist or skateboarder, and you’ve got a lot of chaos.

Given that, there are lots of ways for collisions to occur. Here are a few:

  • Two cars going for the same parking space
  • Two cars back up into each other
  • Car backs up into a pedestrian
  • Failure to yield
  • Parallel-parked car door opens to strike cyclist

Sometimes, a car might hit an unattended, parked car. Remember: it is illegal to strike a vehicle and flee the scene in Washington State.

Who’s at Fault in a Parking Lot Crash?

You’re not the only one likely wondering: “who’s at fault for this parking lot crash?” Your car insurance company is, too. The State of Washington is an at-fault state. In other words, the person who’s deemed to be at fault is financially responsible for the other person’s car damage and injuries. Also in our State, that fault can be divided up between the drivers involved.

So, what establishes fault? Negligence does. 

Simply put, negligence means that someone failed in their duty to be responsible. For instance, if a driver doesn’t check their blind spot before exiting a parking spot and strikes another vehicle, they’re negligent.

Even so, it’s not always clear who made the mistake.

Proving Negligence in a Parking Lot Crash

Again, it’s important to determine who’s at fault, because they (or their insurance company) are liable to pay for the other driver’s damages.

You, or your car attorney if you have one, have several options for proving liability in a crash. These could include:

  • Surveillance video
  • Dash cam video
  • Witness testimony
  • Photos taken at the scene
  • Damage to your vehicle
  • Statements from doctors or other experts
  • Police report (although, police may not respond to a minor incident at a parking lot as it’s considered private property)

What happens if you are partly to blame? In that case, your settlement will be reduced by the amount you’re found to be at fault. A savvy attorney could work to negotiate down your fault percentage.

Avoiding Parking Lot Fender Benders

Obviously, it’s always best to prevent a collision from happening in the first place. Here are a few tips for avoiding crashes in a parking lot:

  • Slow down. It should go without saying that reducing your speed is the number one thing you can do to prevent a crash.
  • Use caution when backing out. Many new cars have backup cameras installed. While these are certainly useful, it’s important to not rely solely on them. Check those blind spots and mirrors.
  • Expect the unexpected. A child could quickly dark out between cars. A driver might accidentally head the wrong way down a parking lane.
  • Choose your spot with care. If given the option, choose a spot that’s got plenty of space around it from other vehicles or objects. Consider how easy it will be to exit the space later.
  • Take a deep breath. Road rage doesn’t just happen on the roads: it can just as easily happen in a parking lot. Remember to exercise patience and not engage aggressive behavior.

The good news is that many times crashes can be prevented by just practicing these commonsense measures.

Serious Injuries or Fatality from Parking Lot Crash

Sometimes collisions happen – even if you’ve done everything right. And unfortunately, serious injuries and fatalities can and do happen in parking lots. Particularly, if that crash involves a pedestrian or small child.

The damages from a crash like this can be significant:

  • Hospital and doctor bills
  • Lost wages
  • Funeral expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of lifestyle
  • Loss of key relationships

And here’s why we can’t emphasize enough – call a well-rated injury attorney. An attorney can make sure critical evidence is preserved and that you get a settlement that will compensate you for lost wages, doctor’s bills, pain, and suffering.

When to Involve a Car Accident Attorney

Have you sustained serious injuries from a crash caused by another driver in a parking lot? Or perhaps, you believe the other driver is at fault but you’re having a hard time dealing with the insurance company? Call one of our experienced Tacoma personal injury lawyers for help.

As we mentioned at the start of this post, it’s always free to speak with us for an initial case review. Plus, if we end up working together, we’ll only charge a fee if we’re able to win you a settlement. Since there’s no risk, why not give us a call right now?

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