What do I do After a Parking Lot Accident?
The slow speeds used in parking lots and garages may give us a false sense of security to drive through them while multi-tasking and focusing on other things within the vehicle. According to the National Security Council, 66% of survey respondents said they would often drive through parking lots while distracted. They often program GPS, navigate their infotainment systems, groom themselves or play with their phones as they wait in lines.
However, more than 50,000 accidents happen each year in parking lots and garages. They result in an average of more than 500 deaths and 60,000 injuries. Some of these accidents are caused by distracted drivers and some by distracted pedestrians. It shows that just because speeds are lower in these areas doesn’t mean they are any less risky.
Six Common Types of Parking Lot Accidents
There are six common types of parking lot accidents:
- Pulling forward — Instead of backing out of a space, the driver pulls forward into another space and hits a fixed object, another vehicle as it pulls into the space, pulls out into traffic, or hits a pedestrian.
- Backing up — A driver backs out of a space without checking blind spots and either hits a fixed object, another vehicle as it is moving, a parked car, or a pedestrian.
- Competing vehicles — When two cars are competing for either a parking space or to merge into a traffic lane and end up colliding.
- Rear-ending — One driver is not paying attention and doesn’t realize the vehicle in front of it stopped for pedestrians or a stop sign.
- Pedestrians and cyclists — Pedestrians and cyclists are often struck in parking lots due to the significant number of blind spots.
- Disobeying traffic signs — In Florida, traffic signs posted in parking lots are sometimes just as enforceable as those on the road. Therefore, if a stop sign or speed limit is posted, it must be obeyed, or there is a risk that you could get a ticket.
How Can I Prevent a Parking Lot Accident?
Parking lots are hotbeds of activity from other cars and pedestrians, especially in peak hours or seasons. The first and most effective way to prevent a parking lot accident is to be hyper-vigilant and pay attention to your surroundings. Other things you can do include:
- Park a little further away — Whenever possible, avoid driving in circles to find a spot that is in high demand. Find a spot that is less desirable towards the back of the lot. If at night, be sure to park near well-lit areas.
- Stay in your lines — If you park too close to the parking space lines, you are inviting other drivers to hit your car. Additionally, it may make leaving difficult for you and obstruct your view as you are backing up.
- Technology is a tool — Backup cameras are beneficial but don’t rely entirely on them to be your guide as you back up. Use your mirrors and look over your shoulder to check as many blind spots as possible.
- Avoid parking near large trucks — Large vehicles can obstruct your view and create more blind spots.
- Don’t cut corners — Stay in the traffic lanes and never cut across empty parking spaces. There could be significant blind spots from other vehicles, and other drivers in the lanes won’t expect people flying out from between spaces.
Is a Stop Sign in a Parking Lot Enforceable in Florida?
Well, yes and no. They are technically traffic control devices. When found on a public roadway, there are fines associated with disobeying stop, yield, and other traffic signs. However, when they are private property, the topic becomes a little murky.
If the property owner is experiencing a high volume of people ignoring the signs, they can work with law enforcement to draft a traffic sign enforcement agreement that is then filed with the clerk of courts. To enforce the private property traffic signs, a law enforcement officer should be aware of this agreement to issue citations.
However, even if you don’t get a citation for disobeying signs, if you cause an accident, you may be issued a “careless driving” citation, which is a catch-all citation. So, it’s best to treat all traffic signs as enforceable with expensive consequences for disobeying them.
Should I Call the Police for a Parking Lot Accident?
In almost every accident, calling the police is necessary to ensure the details of the accident are properly documented. However, unless there are significant injuries or a severe threat to public safety, the police won’t respond to minor parking lot accidents. If the location has security services, you can contact them to assist with official documentation of the incident.
Who is Liable in a Parking Lot Accident?
Because parking lots and garages are private property, there will be some differences in how the investigation, the insurance claim, and the injury case proceed. Because the police usually do not take a report for parking lot accidents, your attorney and the insurance company will follow Florida laws to determine fault by examining all available evidence. That is why doing as much as you can to document the event is vital to helping your case proceed smoothly.
Is the Parking Lot Owner Liable for an Accident in Florida?
Determining whether a third-party such as the parking lot or garage owner can be held liable for damages comes with a significant burden of proof. You would need to establish that factors such as open or unmarked construction zones, uneven pavement, or other hazards on their property contributed to the accident. The best thing to do if you suspect the property owner should share the liability is to contact an experienced premises law and personal injury attorneys like our team at Darrigo and Diaz.
As a Pedestrian, I Was Struck by a Vehicle. Can I Recover Damages From the Driver?
As a pedestrian, you may be able to recover damages if a vehicle hits you due to the driver’s negligence, such as backing up as you were walking behind the car. The amount you are entitled to will depend on many factors including, but not limited to:
- How severe your injuries are.
- How much time you have lost at work due to injuries.
- The extent of necessary medical treatment for your injuries.
- How much the injuries have impacted your daily life.
- The prospects for a full recovery.
To find out how much your case is worth, you need the right personal injury attorney for pedestrians injured in a parking lot accident. Contact Darrigo and Diaz at (813) 774-3341 to discuss your case.
What Information Should I Gather After a Parking Lot Accident?
Never leave the scene if you hit someone else’s car, even if you leave a note with your information. Leaving the scene without exchanging information with the other vehicle owner could lead to additional headaches, including fines or even criminal prosecution. If the other vehicle owner is not around, you should wait or go into the store and alert management to page the owner by giving them the license plate number.
Because the accident occurred on private property and police likely will not respond, you need to be diligent in collecting as much information as you can, including:
- Pictures/videos of damages
- Names of the vehicle driver, owner, and any witnesses
- Vehicle details such as make, model, color, and license plate number
- Insurance information such as company and policy number
- Take note of how busy the parking lot was at the time
- Look for surveillance cameras and try to get the owner to release videos
This information will help prove beyond a doubt who was liable for the accident and make the claims process much easier. If you have trouble getting surveillance footage from the owner, and it proves vital to establishing liability, you will need an experienced attorney to subpoena the owner. Make sure you have the right legal team on your side from the very beginning.
We encourage you to reach out to an expert parking lot accident attorney firm like Darrigo and Diaz. Contact us today at (813) 774-3341 for a free, no-obligation consultation over the phone or reach out to us online to confidently discuss your case.