Many people think that when they exit the highway and pull into the parking lot, the danger of an accident is over. It’s common for drivers to begin dialing or texting, unbuckling the seatbelt, and reaching for objects in the car even as they prepare to park. But parking lot accidents are more common than we might think.
The following fact should encourage us to think twice before driving carelessly in a parking lot: Nearly 20% of car accidents happen in a parking lot or garage—that’s more than 50,000 crashes a year. Thousands of injuries and deaths result from parking lot accidents each year, and roughly 40% of those deaths are pedestrians, especially vulnerable individuals like children, infants in strollers, and elderly pedestrians.
Parking lot accidents are certainly a real danger. Our law firm frequently receives questions about what to do after a parking lot accident. What do I do if someone backs into my car in a parking lot? What happens if someone hits my parked car? Can I recover losses after a parking lot accident?
In the following article, we will address some of those questions and provide information to help drivers who may have been involved in a parking lot accident—as well as those who are looking for tips to prevent a parking lot accident. If you have further questions, our law firm helps injured car accident victims in Mississippi. For more information, get in touch with our Ocean Springs car accident lawyer who works to protect injured drivers in Mississippi.
How Is Fault Determined in a Parking Lot Accident?
After a car accident, it’s important to determine who was at fault. While determining fault may be more straightforward on a road or highway where traffic laws are more clearly defined, parking lot accidents can make it difficult to pinpoint exactly which party was at fault. Things can become even more complicated if multiple vehicles are involved in the collision.
Establishing which vehicle had the right of way is a key first step to knowing who is liable after a parking lot accident. In the confusion of movement in a parking lot, this is not always easy to do. Generally speaking, cars in designated driving lanes have the right of way. And pedestrians should always be given the right of way in a parking lot.
When a car is turning into a parking space, backing out of a parking space, turning corners, crossing a crosswalk, or moving across lane lines, the driver should yield to other vehicles and people on foot. Additionally, if a driver disregards the traffic rules of the parking lot—like lane markers and stop signs—they will most likely be at fault in the event of a collision. Many people wonder: Is the person backing up always at fault? In most cases, yes. Although there could be scenarios is which a forward-traveling car is parked or moving illegally and may be the at-fault party.
Let’s look at some situations in which a driver may be liable for the parking lot accident. The fault will most likely be theirs if the driver:
- Hits a legally-parked car
- Drives outside of a designated driving lane and hits another vehicle
- Backs out of a parking space into an oncoming car
- Runs a stop sign and causes a collision
- Is texting, using a mobile phone, or otherwise driving while distracted
- Does not give a pedestrian the right of way
- Cuts across parking spaces rather than staying in lanes
- Doesn’t see a cart, cart stall, guardrail, or other object
- Is impaired by drugs or alcohol
- Speeds or drives recklessly
- Doesn’t use turn signals and makes turns abruptly
A lawyer experienced in car accident investigations will be able to help you after a parking lot accident. Your Ocean Springs car accident lawyer will look to multiple sources to find information about which party is liable in a parking lot accident. Evidence can come from:
- Traffic cameras or security cameras which may have caught the incident on film
- Eyewitness reports from bystanders who observed the collision
- Police reports made at the scene of the accident
- Physical damage done to vehicles, guardrails, carts, or other property
- Photographs taken by you or others after the accident
- Medical bills and physician reports documenting any injuries sustained in the crash
Fault Laws in Mississippi
The state of Mississippi follows what are known as “comparative negligence” laws when it comes to determining fault in a car accident. This means that state laws recognize that more than one party may be at fault in a vehicle collision. A percentage can be assigned to each involved party to designate how much that driver was at fault in the accident.
For example, a driver backing out of a parking space may be careless and not see an oncoming driver, making them mostly at fault for the collision. It may be determined that they are 70% at fault. The driver of the car that was struck, however, was also partially at fault because they were talking on the phone and somewhat distracted at the time of the impact. They may be 30% at fault. In this scenario, the amount of compensation awarded will be reduced by the percentage that the driver is at fault.
Furthermore, Mississippi is a “pure comparative negligence” state. This means that there is no limit to the percentage you can be at fault and still recover damages. Even if you are 99% at fault in the car accident, you can still receive the 1% compensation from the other party who contributed to the accident.
Staying Safe in Parking Lots
The National Safety Council (NSC) makes recommendations to encourage drivers to practice good parking lot safety. The following tips can help keep you, your passengers, pedestrians, and other drivers safe:
- Always use turn signals
- Stay in driving lanes and avoid cutting across parking areas
- Be mindful of children and strollers
- Don’t assume the actions of other drivers
- Don’t text or look down while your vehicle is moving
- Before driving, walk around your vehicle to check for objects under or behind tires
- Park in areas with good lighting and ease of exit
- Be aware that holidays are the most dangerous time, especially Black Friday
- Know that rolling carts and pedestrians can appear suddenly
- Watch out for cracked pavement, potholes, and litter
- Turn to look when backing up—don’t rely solely on mirrors and cameras
Vehicle safety is important to our law firm. Whether the accident occurs on a highway or in a parking lot, we are here to offer legal support. If you have been injured in a parking lot accident, contact Corban Gunn, Ocean Springs car accident lawyer. Get in touch to schedule a free consultation and find out how we can help you.
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