Determining Fault in Parking Lot Accidents in Pennsylvania
Trying to find a spot in a parking lot, getting from the entrance to the exit, finding enough space to get into a wide enough spot and even competing with another driver for a parking spot are common happenings in a parting lot. On top of that, many drivers in a parking lots are often in a hurry and distracted.
In fact, the National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that about two-thirds of all motorists who enter parking lots are distracted. It is not no wonder that accident happen in parking lots, but it is important to know that the rules of the road apply when driving in a parking lot.
Even if a driver is going a great deal slower in a parking lot, having an accident can still result in serious injuries to the driver, another vehicle occupant and/or pedestrians. Parking lots are notoriously busy and it takes laser focused attention to see everything going on. Despite the fact that there are a fair number of parking lot accidents, it can be very difficult to prove who is at fault.
By far, the most common accident in a parking lot scenario is when a driver is backing out of a space and hitting another moving or parked vehicle. It is also relatively common for two vehicles backing up to hit each other.
While there are some cases where it may be obvious who was at-fault, that is not always the case. In other cases, not so much. The one thing to note is that if you are backing out of a space and hit another stationary or moving vehicle you are more than likely to be the one at fault for the collision. If you and another driver were backing out of a space at the same time, fault becomes difficult to determine or no fault is found in the case. If you hit a parked car with no one in it and do not leave contact information, you can be charged with a hit and run.
Although pedestrian accidents are not quite the same as a vehicle to vehicle collision, if you did hit a pedestrian, you are likely to be found at fault unless the pedestrian was negligent and stepped out behind or in front of you without looking.
Any parking lot accident should also be reported to the police because no one ever really knows what injuries may or may not show up later. Even if an injury seems to be minor, sometimes they can turn into something are more serious later.
For instance, whiplash injuries do not show up right away, and may not manifest until 24 hours later, or longer. Symptoms include: painful neck and a decreased range of motion, dizziness, blurry vision, numbness or tingling in the shoulders, arms and fingers, and pain in other locations of the body.
Another common injury sustained in a parking lot accident is a spinal injury involving the back. Although parking lot accidents often happen at low speeds, when a car is rear-ended, lower back injuries are common. They may also result in paralysis or chronic back pain.
There are also some situations where a parking lot owner may be held liable for any injuries that occurred in a parking lot accident, particularly if the lot is badly paved, improperly cleared of snow or ice, poorly marked or not marked at all or poorly lit or not lit at all, there are not enough or any signals and signs and there are tight turns and corners. If there is more than one person that may be held liable for your injuries in a parking lot accident, the court may divide the fault and the damages between the defendants.
The plaintiff may also be held partially liable for a parking lot accident if negligence on their part played a part in the collision. That does not mean the plaintiff is barred from recovering compensation because Pennsylvania is a comparative negligence state. Comparative negligence means injured parties who contribute to their own accident can have their damage award reduced by their percentage of fault in causing a collision.
If you or someone you love was involved in an accident in a parking lot, then you may have a claim for compensation for your injuries and damages. Contact Melaragno, Placidi & Parini to see how we can help.