Parking lots are often busy and congested places where distracted driving and pedestrian accidents go hand-and-hand. Many people hold a common misconception of parking lots being safer than roadways. With so many cars moving in different directions, rushing to parking spots, pulling in and out of parking spaces, parking lots at times can be quite chaotic. Accidents are more frequent than thought and are prime locations for numerous types of collisions and pedestrian accidents. In fact, a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found one in five of all vehicle accidents occurs in parking lots.
How do parking lot collisions typically occur?
There is a misguided notion by motorists and pedestrians alike that parking lots offer a sense of security. It may very well be this very reason that there are such a high number of accidents there. In reality, parking lots are hectic places. Whether above ground, underground, or in covered garages, parking lots can present their own set of obstacles—tight turns, narrow parking slots, and poor lighting. Pedestrians, too, often take unnecessary risks by walking down the middle of a parking lane on their cellphones or impulsively dart in front of moving traffic.
Add to this driver distraction and speeding. Many drivers ignore how fast they are moving as they search for a parking spot. They can also become easily distracted—answering the phone or texting, responding to navigation systems, or children crying, pets whimpering, taking a sip of coffee—are common distracted driving behaviors that lead to accidents.
What are the most common parking lot collisions?
Typical collisions in parking lots result from a lack of caution and carelessness. The most common collisions are side-impacts and rear-end impacts.
- Side impacts can happen when a driver backs out of a space without properly looking, or when a driver pulls forward through a vacant parking space and into a passing car, or when merely disregarding parking lot stop or yield signs.
- Rear-end collisions can occur in various ways, such as when two cars simultaneously back up and collide with each other, or when cars stop short in a no-parking zone to let a passenger in or out of a car, or when a driver reads texts instead of watching the road ahead.
When collisions between two cars occur in a parking lot, damage is limited in the majority of instances. When pedestrians are struck in parking lots, even at low speeds, it can lead to serious injuries, sometimes with fatal consequences. There is no doubt that the overwhelming majority of pedestrian accidents are caused by human error. As mentioned, driver distractions are rampant in parking lots. Fussing with seat belts, tuning the radio, answering the cellphone, preoccupied with finding a vacant parking spot without regard for the people walking through the lot or between cars is all too common. From motorists failing to thoroughly check behind them before backing out of a parking space to pedestrians walking through parking lanes while texting messages, pedestrian accidents happen.
What Should I do if I’m hit in a parking lot?
As with any accident or collision, parking lot accidents should be handled the same way. First, thoroughly assess the situation. If it is a minor collision between two cars, check to make sure that no one is harmed or injured in the car. If a pedestrian has been struck, emergency services should be called immediately.
Staying calm and cool is also important. Avoid abusive language. If the other driver loses it, stay in your car, call 911, and use that cellphone to start taking videos and pictures. For safety reasons, move the cars out of the way possible and turn the flashers on. In Maine, if vehicle damage exceeds $1,000, a police report must be filed. It will aid in any insurance claim and establish a record of the accident. Call the police or, if there is a complex security guard on-site, they can write up an incident report to establish the accident’s time, date, and location for any insurance claim. Do not let the other driver or passengers talk you out of filing a report if there is damage to the vehicle or not to involve the insurance company.
Begin to collect evidence. Note the other car’s color, make, model, and license plate number. Exchange information with the other driver including contact details, driver’s license, and insurance info. Take pictures of the damages to any of the cars involved. These photographs may come in handy when making a claim with your insurance company or filing a report with the police.
Finally, though medical care may not be necessary, never definitively tell anyone that you’re, “Okay” or “Fine,” and do not refuse medical help if offered. You may well be okay, but even in fender benders, it is not uncommon for cases of whiplash or nerve damage to become apparent for several hours or even days after an accident. Refusing medical treatment after an accident can result in your claim being denied.
If you have been injured in or are a victim of a car accident in a parking lot, contact Maine’s leading car accident lawyers at Hardy Wolf & Downing for a free consultation. The attorneys at Hardy, Wolf and Downing have provided legal assistance and successfully represented accident victims for over 40 years. Hardy Wolf & Downing will ensure you receive the just compensation you are entitled to.