car in a parking lot
A large number of car accidents occur in parking lots. However, in determining legal liability, the rules of the parking lot are a lot like the rules of the road.

Motorists and pedestrians owe a duty of care to those around them, and when they fall short of that duty they are legally liable for the injuries they cause. Read on for more information from our experienced car accident attorneys.

Yielding the Right of Way

If a driver fails to yield the right of way, they are at fault for a parking lot accident. Here are some common scenarios:

  • A motorist who is parked must yield the right of way to vehicles passing. This means you can’t pull into traffic and hit someone. Instead, look to make sure no one is coming and proceed cautiously.
  • A motorist on a feeder lane must yield to traffic on a thoroughfare. Thoroughfares connect the parking lot to the street. Feeder lanes connect to the thoroughfare.
  • Motorists must follow stop signs in the parking lot. If a sign tells you to stop, you must stop and check to make sure no traffic is coming. If you barrel through and crash into someone, you are at fault.

It is usually better to be safe than sorry. When in doubt, yield to another driver and wave them through. There is no reason to be a rush, and collisions even at low speeds can cause serious injuries.

Vehicles Backing Up

Whenever a vehicle that is backing up strikes another vehicle, it is almost always at fault. If you are backing out of a parking space and got hit, then chances are you are to blame because you did not yield to the driver that was trying to pass you.

Drivers have a duty to exit their parking spaces carefully, just as they have a duty to back out of their driveways carefully. If you fail to look in your mirrors and strike a vehicle (or, even worse, a pedestrian), you are at fault.

Some exceptions exist. If two vehicles are backing up at the same time and hit each other, they might share fault if they were backing up at the same time. However, if one driver was already backing up, then the other car needs to wait for them to pull out.

Opening a Car Door

If you hit another car while opening your door, you will almost certainly be at fault. Sometimes motorists park so closely that it is hard to get into your car. However, it is always best to avoid hitting another car if at all possible. This might mean getting into your car via the passenger door, but this is preferable to striking another vehicle with your door.

Understanding Negligence

Every accident case is analyzed using negligence. Put simply, the law requires that motorists and pedestrians in parking lots act with sufficient care. What care they must use depends on the circumstances. Negligence depends less on “who hit who” than on what actions each person took in the moments before a collision.

For example, a driver who backs up and runs into a pedestrian is almost certainly at fault. However, sometimes pedestrians can be negligent, too. Were you reading a text message and not paying attention? Did you step directly in the way of a vehicle that was trying to back up? If so, you might bear some of the blame for the accident.

The Importance of Fault

Fault determinations are critical for understanding whose insurance will pay out compensation. If a motorist is at fault, then their liability insurance should pay compensation to the victims. A motorist who is at fault cannot make a claim with their liability insurer, since they bear blame for the accident.

Fault can sometimes be difficult to establish. There might be insufficient evidence of what exactly happened. If you were involved in a collision in a parking lot, you should be careful about what you say. If you admit fault, an insurance company can use those statements against you later.

The Yakima Car Accident Lawyers to Call

If you were injured in a parking lot, you should contact an experienced attorney to help you with your case. Even low-speed collisions can send pedestrians and motorists to the hospital with serious injuries, which cost money to treat.

At Kapuza Lighty, we have helped many motorists injured on the road and in parking lots. Reach out to us today. We are pleased to offer members of the public a free initial consultation, during which we can discuss the accident. You can schedule yours by calling 509-866-4166.


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