Although parking lot crashes are rarely high-speed, they do happen – a lot of them.
Moreover, parking lot accidents often result in expensive repair bills and insurance increases. A parking lot crash can also cause serious or even fatal injuries, especially if pedestrians are involved.
Below we’re going to break down how parking lot auto accidents happen, and how fault is determined. If you have been involved in a parking lot crash and are concerned about recovering damages for your car or personal injuries, we recommend consulting with a Florida personal injury attorney.
How Do Florida Parking Lot Crashes Happen?
In parking lots, a lot of activity is occurring in a relatively small space. Further, traffic patterns vary in different parking lots, and many pedestrians are present. Together, these factors make parking lot accidents very common.
There are five common types of parking lot accidents:
- Two drivers back into one another. This happens when both cars are in reverse and back into each other.
- A driver pulls forward out of a space and into the lane or traffic. This happens when a driver pulls forward out of a space, and into oncoming traffic. Generally, the oncoming car collides with the front or side of the car pulling out.
- A driver backs out of a space and into an oncoming car. This occurs when a driver backs out of a parking space and into oncoming traffic. The backing car may collide with oncoming traffic, or the oncoming car may hit the side of the car backing out.
- Two cars pulling into the same space collide. This happens when two cars are rushing to get a parking space, and they collide.
- One car rear-ends another at a stop sign. This occurs when one car is stopped at a stop sign or exit, and a moving car rear-ends the stopped car.
How Is Fault Determined in Florida Parking Lot Crashes?
If a parking lot crash involves serious personal injury, it will be important to determine who is at fault. Even though Florida is a no-fault state, responsibility comes into play when accidents result in serious injuries that exceed PIP coverage.
Let’s review who is generally at fault for the five common types of accidents:
- Two drivers backing into one another. In this case, both cars are moving, and neither driver has the right of way. Further, both drivers are responsible for looking prior to backing up. Therefore, it is likely that fault will be shared for this type of accident unless you can show clear and specific negligence on the part of the other driver.
- A driver pulling forward into traffic. In this case, both cars are moving, but the driver in the lane of traffic has the right of way. It is therefore likely that the driver pulling out of the space will be at majority fault for the accident.
- A driver backing into an oncoming car. In this type of accident, both cars are moving, but the driver in the traffic lane has the right of way. Further, the driver backing out is required to wait until it is safe to back out. Therefore, the car backing out will likely be at majority fault.
- Two cars pulling into the same space. In this case, both cars are moving, and both drivers are likely to be held at some fault. However, the important factor in determining fault here is who had the right-of-way. Similar to a roadway, a driver making a turn into oncoming traffic must yield to oncoming cars. Therefore, the driver turning left will likely be held at majority fault for the accident. However, this can vary. For example, if the car turning right made a wide right turn into oncoming traffic.
- A car rear-ending another at a stop sign. In this case, only one car is moving, so the driver who rear-ends the other car is almost always at fault.
Because of the preconceived notions around fault in these types of accidents, it becomes even more important to provide clear evidence of negligence if you were harmed by the improper behavior of another.
The bottom line is that most parking lot accidents are preventable if you remain alert, buy yourself time to act, expect pedestrians to do things such as dart in front of cars, and distance yourself from other vehicles in the parking lot.
Because police reports are rarely filed in a parking lot accident, it will be of paramount importance to know what to do after an accident. You should always get the other driver’s contact and insurance information. We also recommend collecting the contact information of any witnesses so that negligence can be proven if necessary.
About the Author:
Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for the South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.