Parking lots and parking garages can have hundreds of visitors a day. With so many drivers pulling in and out of spots, circling around looking for spots, and trying to enter and exit the lots, there is always a risk of a collision.
According to the National Safety Council, the highest number of parking lot-related claims occur during the holiday shopping season – but a parking lot crash can occur at any time of year. If you are injured in a collision in a parking lot or parking garage, there are some things you should know regarding the risks and causes, liability, and making a claim for damages.
What causes parking lot accidents?
Driver negligence is a leading cause of parking lot collisions. That negligence can take the form of:
- Distracted driving
- Failing to stay to the right when driving through the lot
- Failing to follow traffic signs within the lot, leading to wrong-way crashes and side-impact crashes
- Failing to back out of spots slowly, to account for pedestrians and passing cars
- Parking in “non-spots,” such as in loading bays or next to the designated lines in travel lanes
The design and condition of the lot or garage can also increase the risk of a crash. Broken pavement or asphalt, poorly lit corners, missing or inadequate signage for navigating entrances and exits, and excessive road hazards (such as piles of snow, puddles collecting water, and other maintenance-related issues) can also contribute to single- and multi-vehicle accidents.
Other parking lot and parking garage dangers
The dangers of a poorly designed and/or maintained parking lot or garage pose additional risks outside of vehicle collisions. Poorly maintained lots can create slip and fall hazards, and inadequate lighting in lots or stairwells can lead to assaults or thefts.
Who is at greatest risk for injury a parking lot accident?
Pedestrians are among the most vulnerable in parking lot accidents, and young children are at greatest risk for an injury. According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, “Children ages 0-2 years suffer the highest number of injuries as pedestrians, while in the street, on driveways, parking lots and sidewalks.” This is likely because young children are too small to be seen over the front of most hoods, or through the back window of many vehicles.
Employees are also at risk in lots connected to businesses and retail outlets. For example, many grocery employees must collect shipping carts from cart corrals as well as from parking spaces. Walking between the spots can reduce the employee’s visibility, and drivers who are impatient to enter or leave a lot may drive recklessly in order to maneuver around the cart collector.
Can I claim damages if I am injured in a parking lot or garage?
In another person’s negligence resulted in you sustaining an injury, you can make a claim for damages. Depending on the nature of your injuries, you may be entitled to compensation for:
- Medical costs (past and future)
- Lost wages (past and future)
- Property loss
- Pain and suffering (including for loss of quality of life)
If a loved one is killed in a parking lot crash, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim. The damages in a wrongful death claim also include medical expenses and loss of income, as well as funeral/burial costs; sorrow, mental anguish, and loss of companionship and society; and potentially punitive damages, in certain circumstances.
Who is liable for a parking lot accident?
Most car crashes in parking lots are caused by drivers, but the condition of the lot or garage could be a key factor in your claim. As such, the liable party is likely to be a driver, the owner/operator of the lot, or both.
Parking lots and garages can be dangerous places. Phelan Petty represents car, truck, and motorcycle accident victims throughout Virginia. To schedule a free consultation, please call us in Richmond at 804-980-7100, or fill out the contact form.
Michael Phelan is a Virginia trial attorney who practices with a special focus on traumatic brain injury (TBI) cases, pharmaceutical and medical device claims, product liability cases, and truck accidents. Michael’s peers have consistently recognized him for his excellence as a trial lawyer, and his clients have praised him for his commitment to deep research, his outstanding communication skills, and his sincerity and dedication.