When most people think of a car accident, they imagine a collision that occurs on the roads, streets or highways. But auto accidents can also occur in parking lots and parking garages. On a typical weekday, lots and garages (particularly in downtown areas) are full of vehicles. Then on the weekends, they fill up again when people come to shop, go out to restaurants and clubs, and attend popular events.
Parking lot accidents are far more common than most people realize. According to the National Safety Council, more than 50,000 crashes occur in parking lots and garages each year, resulting in 500 or more deaths and tens of thousands of injuries. As we approach the holiday season, this is the time of year when the risk of parking lot collisions is at its highest.
Why Do So Many Parking Lot Accidents Occur?
Parking lots and garages pose some unique risks that are not necessarily present on the roadways. These are small and enclosed areas where there are vehicles circling around (and often moving in opposite directions) trying to find a parking spot. On top of that, you have numerous pedestrians walking back and forth to and from their vehicles. Throw in the stress of looking for a place to park in a lot that is filling up, trying to keep up with a busy schedule, manage children, etc. – and you can see why so many collisions occur.
There are other factors that also heighten the risk of parking lot accidents, such as:
- Speeding/Reckless Driving: When people are in a hurry or rushing to find a parking spot, they do not always drive through the lot or garage at a safe speed. Another common move is not using proper lanes and cutting through empty spaces to get where they are going.
- Distracted Driving: As people drive into and out of parking lots and garages, they are often talking or texting on their phone, checking their emails or social media messages, looking at their GPS, and trying to control unruly passengers. These and other distractions can cause drivers to miss important things that are happening around them, such as a pedestrian walking to their car.
- Faulty Designs: Some lots and garages are poorly designed. They have lanes going in multiple directions and signs and arrows that are unclear and confusing. They may also have parking spots that are too small and compact for most vehicles to safely get into and out of.
- Negligent Maintenance: Lots and garages develop wear and tear over time. This can create potholes and similar hazards. When these hazards are not remedied, it makes it more dangerous for those who try to park and walk through these areas.
Who is At Fault in a Parking Lot Collision?
Collisions in parking lots and garages typically occur at lower speeds than those that happen on the roadways, but even accidents that do minimal damage to a vehicle can still result in moderate to severe injuries. This is particularly true when a vehicle strikes a pedestrian.
With parking lot accidents, determining fault is not always clear cut. When two vehicles collide with each other in a lot or garage, many people presume that both drivers are equally at fault. This may be true sometimes, but there are other instances in which the negligence of one of the drivers causes the accident. This could be because of one or more of the factors we mentioned earlier, such as speeding, reckless/careless driving, or distracted driving.
In the case of a collision between a vehicle and a pedestrian, the vehicle driver is usually the one at fault. However, there are times when the pedestrian is at least partially to blame, such as when they are looking down at their phone and not watching where they are going. Determining who is responsible for a parking lot accident in such cases will typically require a thorough investigation, which may include reviewing the official accident report, examining any available surveillance footage, interviewing witnesses, pulling cell phone records, and many other steps.
Finally, it may be possible that a third party is responsible for the parking lot collision. For example, if the lot or garage is poorly designed or negligently maintained, responsibility for the accident could be placed on the shoulders of the owner or manager of the facility, or even the party that designed it.
Injured in a Parking Lot Accident in South Carolina? Contact a Skilled and Knowledgeable Auto Accident Attorney
If you are someone close to you suffered injury in a parking lot or parking garage accident, you may be entitled to compensation. These types of cases can be very complicated, however, and it is important to obtain experienced legal counsel, so you are in the best possible position to recover maximum compensation.
If the accident occurred in South Carolina, call Peake & Fowler today at 803-788-4370 or message us online to schedule a free consultation and case assessment. We will meet with you to thoroughly evaluate your case and advise you of your legal rights and options.