The mall parking lot is packed. You weave in and out of rows, looking for that elusive empty spot. You think you see one—but as you roll closer, it turns out to be a shopping cart bay. In that split second that you were looking away, a motorist in a parking space just opposite your car is backing out in a hurry. She crashes right into your driver’s side door.
The impact jolts you sharply. You feel the pain in your neck, arm, and chest. Your car’s driver side has taken on some damage, too.
As the shock of the accident subsides, you panic, wondering if you caused the accident by looking away momentarily. You know there is no way you can afford your own car repairs and doctor bills, much less those of the other driver.
The good news is, you are probably in the clear here. Zanes Law’s parking lot accident lawyers in Phoenix will tell you why and help you get compensation for your damages. Call us today at (602) 999-9999.
Parking Lots Are Not as Safe as You Think
Many people do not realize the dangers that parking lots pose because cars usually do not travel as fast there as they do on the road. However, the statistics prove otherwise. There are some estimates that as many as 500 people each year are killed in parking lot accidents. These same statistics show that there is an average of 50,000 crashes in parking garages that injure up to 60,000 people each year. Just because cars are moving more slowly does not mean that parking lots are safe.
Parking Garages Are Particularly Dangerous
As bad as parking lots are, garages are even more dangerous. These are dark areas that never seem to be well-lit. In addition, there are many blind corners, and visibility in these garages is poor. Add to this the fact that drivers often come tearing around the corners blindly, and you have an unsafe mix. Some motorists think that the lack of police presence in a parking garage gives them the ability to drive dangerously. They may think that there is nobody else around and use the garage as a place to test their car or get out their aggression. Either way, parking garage accidents are commonplace.
Common Causes of Parking Lot Accidents
People get a false sense of security when driving in a parking lot, probably because most of the cars they see are not moving.
The National Safety Council (NSC) highlights another contributing factor: distractions. The NSC conducted a public opinion poll on parking lot behaviors and found that 66 percent of drivers reported making phone calls as they drove through parking lots.
The poll revealed other distractions, including taking photos, texting, using social media, sending or receiving emails, and programming GPS systems.
Other typical causes of parking lot accidents include:
- Shopping carts rolling around the lot
- Drivers cutting each other off as they rush for a parking space
- People driving while intoxicated
- Motorists driving recklessly in empty parking lots in Phoenix
- Driver does not look back before backing out
- People driving the wrong direction in parking rows
- Drivers ignoring stop signs
- Drivers backing up into children they did not see
- Motorists ignoring driving aisles, instead driving across several parking spaces
- Drivers on their cell phones and not seeing traffic or pedestrians
- Dangerous conditions in the parking lot due to a lack of maintenance by the owner
It is hard to foresee so many of these incidents occurring, which is why parking lot accidents are so common. Parking lots have many blind spots. Impatient drivers who want and need a space do risky things. Impatient drivers may tear around corners and go way too fast for the circumstances.
Common Parking Lot Accidents
Here are some of the more common parking lot accidents:
- Pulling Through Accidents – Drivers do not like to back out of spaces in parking lots for understandable reasons. Accordingly, they will pull through a space to ensure that they do not have to back in or out of a space. However, other cars may be trying to pull into the same space at the same time, causing the two cars to collide head-on.
- Backing Up Accidents – It is difficult for drivers to see behind under every circumstance. This is even harder in parking lots when people could be walking by or cars may be passing at a high rate of speed. Cars that are backing out must yield to cars and pedestrians walking by them. Usually, the accident would be the fault of the driver backing out, but things are complicated if a pedestrian or other car was not paying attention or looking where they were going.
- Intersection Accidents – Even when a parking lot or garage is properly signed, the right of way can be confusing. Drivers often do not pay as much attention to stop signs as they would on a city street. In addition, poles, beams, or other obstructions can block a driver’s view. Motorists could also pull from the parking area onto the main road of the lot, where other drivers may be speeding. Parking lot intersection accidents can be complicated when it comes to proving fault.
- Road Rage Accidents – Drivers often fight over parking spaces in lots. When they are traveling more slowly, they have more of a chance to have an angry exchange, which can provoke one driver into violent action. Even if there is no intentional act of rage, the mere act of drivers doing reckless things to get a leg up for a coveted parking spot puts everyone else at risk.
Other Parking Lot Accidents
While we have focused on car accidents in parking lots, there are other ways that you can suffer harm. For example, you get out of your car into the parking lot and walk to the store or residence. Between your car and your destination (or vice versa), you could encounter many hazards.
The first danger that could find you is a hazardous surface that could cause you to lose your balance. Slip and fall accidents are common in parking lots. In many cases, you may encounter some debris, such as construction equipment or garbage that someone should have cleared. In other cases, the condition of the pavement is responsible for the accident, as people trip over cracked surfaces.
Another parking lot danger is the possibility of being attacked in a parking lot. The owner has a legal responsibility to provide adequate security for their premises. While they are not automatically responsible for every incident on their property, they must take extra security measures if they know that there has been crime in their area previously.
Pedestrian Accident Injuries in Parking Lots
Parking lots will all have both drivers and people going to and from their cars. Not only must drivers take extra care to avoid crashing into other cars, but they must also be on the lookout for people walking. However, drivers do not always see pedestrians. They may be checking their texts after getting back into their car from the store, or they may not be looking carefully enough. Pedestrians usually have the right of way in parking lots unless the driver is already coming out of their spot.
Figuring Out Who Is At Fault in a Parking Lot Accident in Phoenix
Parking lots are private spaces. They do not follow the same traffic laws as you would find on city roads or state highways. Determining who is at fault for an accident comes down to using some common sense.
Standards of Negligence
In the world of fault and liability, common sense boils down to basic rules of negligence. Generally, in any traffic situation, regardless of location, one party bears greater responsibility for exercising care than the other. That person assumes fault for the accident.
In every case, a court would use a four-part test to determine whether someone was responsible for the injuries of another.
The four elements of this test are:
- Duty of care – the defendant owes the plaintiff a duty to exercise reasonable care. Here, the parking lot owner or the person who has control over it would owe a duty of care to patrons. If the injury happened in the parking lot of a townhouse or condominium complex, the owner would owe a duty of care to residents and their guests. Other motorists in a parking lot owe a duty of care to drivers and pedestrians.
- Breach of duty – the defendant breaches the duty of care when they act unreasonably under the circumstances. A jury would look at the actions that a reasonable property owner or driver would take under the circumstances. A reasonable driver would certainly look where they are going before they back into another car or hit a pedestrian.
- Injury – The claimant or plaintiff must have suffered a physical injury, damage to their property, or both
- Causation – The defendant must have been the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury. In other words, the plaintiff would have never suffered the harm had it not been for the actions (or inactions) of the defendant.
This is a fact-based test. Your lawyer would gather evidence of what happened to cause the accident and would use it to argue that someone else was responsible, and you should receive payment for your injuries. Proving fault in parking lot accidents is not always easy unless you have clear-cut evidence to support your side of the story.
Outside that, here are some questions that may be at issue:
- Was one or both drivers moving at the time of the accident? The implication is that a driver who was not moving cannot be at fault for an accident.
- Who had the right of way at the time of the accident? A car already in traffic usually has the right to move. This is also true of the driver that was in the more major roadway in the parking lot.
- Was one motorist driving dangerously? If they exhibited any of the behaviors discussed above, they could be liable for the accident.
Shared Fault in Parking Lot Accidents
When so many people are around, it is not always apparent who was responsible for parking lot accidents. You may think that you cannot recover unless the other party was 100 percent responsible for the accident. However, before you draw any assumptions about not having the right to recover compensation for your injuries, you should understand how Arizona law helps you. As long as the other party bears any part of the blame for the accident, you have the legal right to some financial compensation. This means that you should always talk to an attorney after a parking lot accident, regardless of what you think may have happened.
Even if you were a pedestrian who walked in front of a car, you may be able to receive some compensation if the driver was not looking where they were going.
Violation of Parking Lot Rules
The first thing to do is to look for any sense of posted rules or indications of traffic flow, etc. These could be arrows painted on the pavement to guide direction, stop signs posted at intersections, parking spot markings. If one party violated a parking lot rule, he or she is most likely at fault for the accident.
How to Prove Parking Lot Accident Cases
There are some things about a parking lot accident that could help you when you are seeking compensation. Depending on where the parking lot is, chances are that someone may have seen the accident. Witnesses can then testify about what happened. If you suffered injuries in a parking garage or store parking lot, security video may have recorded the accident. Your attorney could subpoena the security tape and use it as proof for your claim.
Accountability of Parking Lot Owner
If you can provide evidence that a parking lot owner neglected to maintain the lot in a way to make it safe, you might be able to seek damages from the parking lot owner. This means that they can be legally responsible if an accident happened due to poor pavement conditions. In addition, many traffic accidents occur at night because of poor lighting, and the owner should have to pay for that.
Besides maintenance problems, the parking lot must also have proper signs with adequate traffic control. This means that there should be stop signs and clear directions for drivers. In addition, the parking lot should have traffic control devices as necessary. The parking lot owner would be legally responsible if someone was injured because there was inadequate traffic control.
Zanes Law Injury Lawyer’s team of parking lot accident lawyers in Phoenix will review the evidence, including your account of the accident, and determine who is at fault for the accident and liable for your damages. Call us at (602) 999-9999 for a free consultation.
Recoverable Damages in a Parking Lot Accident
You are eligible to seek compensation for various expenses and losses incurred by your parking lot accident, including:
- Ambulance rides
- Medical treatment costs and expenses
- Pain management medication
- Pain and suffering
- Prescribed medicines
- Income lost due to work missed
- Estimated diminished future potential earnings
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
Not only will you need to prove fault for the accident, but you would also need to prove your damages. Like any accident, there will be an insurance company involved. The damages listed above can add up quickly. However, the insurance company wants to avoid paying your claim to the greatest extent possible. This means that you may have to fight for every penny that you get.
It does not matter whether it is the other driver’s auto insurance company or that of the parking lot owner. Insurance companies all operate by the same principles. You need an aggressive attorney who is committed to fighting for you to get what you deserve.
Zanes Law Injury Lawyers will champion your right to collect the damages you deserve. Call us at (602) 999-9999.
What a Parking Lot Accident Lawyer in Phoenix Will Do for You
The parking lot accident lawyers in Phoenix from Zanes Law are committed to helping you get the justice you deserve for your parking lot accident. We will handle all aspects of your case professionally and compassionately.
Our lawyers can:
- Visit the scene of the accident to search for evidence and document everything
- Contact witnesses who saw the accident occur
- Obtain your medical records
You should at least have a conversation with an attorney to learn more about your legal options.
Arizona’s Statute of Limitations Means the Clock is Ticking
As with most states, Arizona law contains a statute of limitations that sets a limit to the time you have to take legal action in a civil court following an accident.
Rather than risk that time running out, you could get an early start on your legal action. You can put your mind to rest knowing the process is in gear, and you would help your lawyer out with a little head start on building your case.
Zanes Law Parking Lot Accident Lawyers Wants to Help You
Our slogan is, “We do everything from A to Z,” and we mean it. Call our firm at (602) 999-9999 or send us a message through our contact page to find out more about how we will represent you in your pursuit of compensation for your parking lot accident.