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Is a Parking Lot Accident Treated the Same as a Roadway Accident?


Parking lots can be challenging places to drive. Some are vast, like those surrounding shopping centers and stadiums, where simply finding your way in and out can be difficult. Some are lofty structures that hold multiple levels of cars, while others are crowded and cramped little areas where backing out of a space without hitting another car can be a task. The one characteristic that parking lots in California do have in common is that they are often full of confused or inattentive drivers.

Drivers in parking lots are often looking for a parking space in the next lane or trying to find the way out while not paying attention to the road in front of them. Some drivers are in a hurry, to get in or out, and drive too fast, creating a hazard for other drivers and pedestrians. Others are talking on the phone, putting on makeup, adjusting their climate control or drinking a cup of coffee as they attempt to pull out of a parking space. 

While most parking lot accidents are low impact collisions, some are not. Many larger parking lots have perimeter roads where drivers can reach high speeds and collide with entering or exiting vehicles or shoppers walking to their cars. Stop and yield signs, as well as crosswalks, need to be respected in parking lots as they are on the roadways.

If you are involved in a parking lot accident in California, you must treat it the same as any other motor vehicle crash. Stop at the scene. Call the police to have a report written. Give your name and address to the other driver while obtaining the same from them. Never discuss what happened with the other party involved, especially admitting fault. Take lots of pictures of the cars, the roads, any skid marks, and wreckage on the pavement. Look around for possible witnesses and If you are injured seek medical attention as soon as possible. If you are seriously injured contact a personal injury attorney.

Some Common Causes of Parking Lot Accidents

Most accidents in parking lots are caused by someone who was not paying attention. Here are some of the most common causes of parking lot accidents:

· Pulling out of a parking spot without looking for other cars or pedestrians. Cars and pedestrians may appear suddenly form many directions so extreme caution should be applied when leaving a parking space. In accidents involving a car backing out of a parking spot, it is the backing up driver who is almost always found at fault.

· Turning suddenly into the path of another vehicle. While in a hurry to pull into an available space an approaching car may be struck. That driver may or may not have been vying for the same space.

· Stopping short and being struck from behind. You suddenly see another car's backup lights go on and stop to grab the soon to be vacated spot, not realizing the presence of another vehicle close behind you.

· Speeding. Most parking lots do not have posted speed limit signs although some do. California law makes driving in a parking lot in manner with disregard for the safety of others, reckless driving. The prima facia speed limit for driving in an alley in California is 15 MPH.

· Missing a stop sign, yield sign or crosswalk. The same rules apply in parking lots as they do anywhere else.

· Wrong way driving. Many parking lots have one way lanes. Disobeying the rule and causing an accident would likely be considered negligence.

· Distracted pedestrians walking into the path of a vehicle.

Parking Lot Accidents and Premise Liability

If an accident occurs causing injury to a pedestrian requiring compensation, it is important to determine whether the driver, parking lot owner or pedestrian was at fault. If the owner of the parking lot is at fault, or partially at fault, the case could fall under the category of premise liability. Some examples of premise liability might be failure to mark directions of flow in narrow lanes, failure to install or maintain adequate lighting in a parking garage, or the failure to mark pedestrian crosswalks or provide stop sign at dangerous or blind intersections.

Parking Lot Accidents in California Should be Treated Like Any Other Accidents

Anyone involved in a traffic accident in a parking lot has the same responsibility as if they were in an accident on a public road or highway. The driver must stop and remain at the scene. If the damage to the vehicle exceeds $1000, the accident must be reported to the police. Even accidents that appear minimal regarding damage, will still cross that $1000 threshold. If in doubt, call the police and have them file a report.

The name and addresses of the drivers involved must be exchanged as well as insurance information. If you are injured do not refuse medical attention and contact a personal injury attorney as soon as you are able. You may be entitled to compensation.

If you or someone you know has been in a parking lot collision, you should contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your options. Contact Vititoe Law Group for a free case evaluation. It is important to act quickly because there are time limits as to when you can file a claim for damages.

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