What You Should Know About a Car Accident in a Parking Lot

Parking lots can be surprisingly deceptive when it comes to safety. Despite the fact that vehicles are often traveling at relatively slow speeds, the speeds are enough to cause significant damage to other vehicles or injuries to pedestrians in the event of a parking lot accident. Often, the cause of a parking lot accident is distracted driving, as outlined in a parking lot accident survey by the National Security Council. According to the survey, 66% of respondents admitted to doing other things while behind the wheel, such as texting (56%), programming a GPS (63%), and even watching videos (49%).

cars in a parking lot

With such a high rate of distraction, the survey raises many alarms. However, it’s not only those behind the wheel of a vehicle that causes parking lot accidents. Sometimes, pedestrians absent-mindedly walking through the parking lot can behave in a way that puts themselves in danger. The best way for both drivers and pedestrians to avoid an accident in a parking lot is to remain vigilant and be aware of their surroundings at all times. But, if you find you are the victim of a parking lot accident, you should also know what to do to ensure your rights as an injured person remain protected. Here’s what you should know if you find yourself involved in a car accident in a parking lot.

What Factors are Used when Determining Fault in a Parking Lot Accident?

As mentioned above, the most common cause of a parking lot accident is distracted driving. If the driver is distracted, they could be found to be at fault. Other times, a driver disobeys a stop sign in the parking lot with the false belief that a road sign on private property is not enforceable. But, there is a bit of a gray area when it comes to road signs on private property, which we will further discuss below. A driver who ignores traffic control devices on private property may be found to be liable on this basis alone.

However, there is a multitude of other factors that can come into play when determining the cause and liability of a parking lot accident. For example, the conditions that existed in the parking lot such as insufficient lighting or obstructions resulting from construction. In these cases, it could be possible that in addition to the negligence of a driver or pedestrian, the owner of the property could be found partially negligent, as well. 

Is a Stop Sign on Private Property Enforceable in Florida?

Technically, traffic control signs on private property in Florida are not enforceable in the same way they are on public roads. This is why people often tend to ignore them. However, there is a caveat to this notion of ignoring them just because no one is forcing you to obey them. 

That caveat is that if a private property owner wants to, they can reach out to local law enforcement to come and enforce the traffic signs as they would on public roads. There are some legal formalities that must happen when a property owner does this, but the outcome is the same: The signs become as enforceable as any other. 

Additionally, even if the property owner does not have an agreement with law enforcement, if a driver disobeys the signs and causes an accident, they can still get a ticket for unsafe driving. Similarly, in a personal injury case, the unsafe driving charge can render the defense of unenforceable traffic signs unusable. 

What Type of Information Should I Gather After a Parking Lot Accident?

The more information and evidence you gather, the better chance you have at getting the compensation you deserve after a parking lot accident. This evidence will help your attorney, the insurance companies, and the courts determine the circumstances leading up to the accident and who is liable for the damages. Information you want to collect includes:

  • Contact and insurance information of the driver of the vehicle. If it was a hit and run accident, try to get the license plate number, make, model, and distinguishing features of the car or driver.
  • Pictures and videos of the scene, including the vehicle(s) involved, any traffic control signs, the weather conditions, and other information about the environmental conditions. If possible, try to obtain surveillance footage from any nearby cameras (your attorney can help with this). 
  • Get the information of any witnesses to the accident. If possible, record a video of their statement of what they saw happen along with their name and contact information.
  • Copies of any tickets, accident reports, medical reports, and other official paperwork.

As the puzzle of what happened leading up to the parking lot accident is being pieced together, even the most seemingly inconsequential detail could be a defining factor in your case. Be sure to hold onto everything you gather and turn the information over to your attorney as soon as possible. 

What Can I Do to Prevent a Parking Lot Accident?

Whether you are a pedestrian or a driver, there are many things you can to help avoid or prevent parking lot accidents. How you handle the situation will depend on the many factors that come into play when you’re in a parking lot. These can include the time of day, whether the lot is for retail or office environments, how busy the car and pedestrian traffic is, and much more. In general, here are a few good rules of thumb to help avoid or prevent a parking lot accident:

  • Avoid parking too close to areas with heavy pedestrian traffic. Most people want a spot that is closest to the entrance of the building. However, this also means there will be a lot more vehicle and foot traffic in the area. Parking further away can help alleviate hazards.
  • The white lines of parking spaces are there for a reason. Do your best to stay within the lines with excess space distributed evenly. If you park too close to the lines, you may find your car with damage from another vehicle or an obstructed view as you are pulling out of the space.
  • Don’t rely on assistive technologies too heavily. While assistive technologies such as backup or side-view cameras can help you avoid blind spots, they are not fool-proof. Instead, they should be combined with the traditional means of checking blind spots and doing your best to ensure you can see any hazards.
  • Avoid parking near objects that inherently have blind spots. For instance, large vehicles, garage support columns, trees/shrubs, construction zones, and building walls can add to existing blind spots. Try to avoid parking near these areas and opt for spaces that have a much clearer view of your surroundings.
  • Always be aware of other vehicles moving in the parking lot. This is especially true if you are a pedestrian. Watch carefully for signs a stopped vehicle is about to start moving. Make eye contact with drivers as you cross lanes. Avoid positioning yourself behind things that can cause a blind spot for a driver, such as behind trees/shrubs, columns, etc.

How Can I Hire a Parking Lot Accident Attorney in the Treasure Coast Area?

If you were in a situation where you got into an accident in a parking lot, hiring the right professional to represent you can be a big help. An experienced parking lot accident attorney can help you get the most out of your case. They will know all of the rules and regulations about how a case like yours should be handled. A good parking lot accident attorney will also have a good understanding of the insurance companies and their procedures regarding accidents on the road. Because insurance is such a large factor, in any case, finding an attorney that has experience with cases that fall under this category should be very important.

An experienced parking lot accident attorney will take all of the facts that you have, take notes on everything that is said, and then present this information in front of you and your insurance company to help make sure that your claim gets filed properly. You are going to need every bit of advice that you can get because every bit of information will help your case. It may be a long process, but having someone who is able to go to bat for you will be imperative to protecting your rights.

At Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd, we’ve successfully recovered compensation for hundreds of clients with cases just like yours. Our goal is to give you peace of mind in knowing you will get the compensation you’re entitled to, so you can focus on getting back to living your life. We highly recommend that you save yourself a trip to our office by scheduling a free virtual consultation. Simply contact us online or call us at (866) 460-1990 to privately discuss your case right over the phone or in a secure virtual meeting. 

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