It’s the holiday season, which means parking lots are about to become much busier. As shoppers rush to destinations like Erskine Plaza and University Park Mall, often all at once, it’s almost expected to have to circle around parking lots once, maybe twice, before finding a space.
In the midst of this parking lot cruising, it is not impossible for you to be involved in an accident. In fact, during the busier holiday season where rushing can result in carelessness, accidents in parking lots are much more common. But who is liable for parking lot accidents?
Understanding Right of Way
Parking lots are fairly straightforward. Comprised of parking spaces and through lanes, parking lots operate like any roadway: the vehicle in the through lane has the right of way. If you are driving in the through lane and someone pulling out of a space backs into you, they are at fault. If you pull out of a space and into a car in the through lane, you are at fault.
Before pulling out of a parking space, a driver must ensure he or she has safe passage into the through lane.
The same is true of cars turning into a parking space. If there is oncoming traffic in the through lane, the driver waiting to park must do just that: wait. Keep your signal on to signify your intent to take a space, but wait until all traffic has passed before pulling into it.
A driver who causes an accident while cutting across traffic to get into a spot can be held liable for any damages that ensue.
Parking lots are typically privately maintained, but stop signs, yield signs, and pedestrian walkways must still be honored. If a driver fails to yield to oncoming traffic or fails to stop at a stop sign and causes an accident as a result, that driver is at fault. The same is true if a driver strikes a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Remember, drivers are required to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks that occupy the side of the road they are on. Drivers must also stop for pedestrians who are approaching a crosswalk on the same side of the road they are driving.
Because parking lots are private, when they are poorly designed or maintained, the property owner or management company may be liable for any damages resulting from an accident as well.
You Need an Attorney
Even when a case seems cut and dry, having an attorney on your side following a parking lot accident is a good idea. At Gardner & Rans, we conduct thorough investigations into each parking lot accident to ensure all liable parties are identified and held accountable. This is the best way to ensure proper compensation is awarded.
To schedule a complimentary review of your case, please call 574-233-6035 today. Located in South Bend, our car accident lawyers serve Olive, Elkhart, and all surrounding areas of Indiana.