Parking lots are chaotic locations. With vehicles traveling in different directions and pedestrians walking in and out of cars, it is no surprise that parking lots are the sites of thousands of car accidents every year in this country. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 91,000 people are injured annually in parking lot crashes. An estimated 2,000 individuals are killed, and approximately one in three is a pedestrian or nonoccupant.
Because a large number of parking lots accidents involve people walking to and from their vehicles, injuries can be quite serious. The following are common injuries in parking lot accidents:
- Cuts and bruises.
- Broken bones.
- Head injuries.
- Crushing injuries.
- Sprains, strains, and tears.
- Organ damage.
Why Do Parking Lot Accidents Happen?
Parking lots can be nerve-wracking for many drivers. Vehicles are pulling out and into spaces. Adults and children are walking in all directions. If a line of vehicles is following behind you, there is the added pressure to find a parking spot. Add careless drivers to this list, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed and distracted by all of this activity.
Moving Without Checking
Some drivers will coast through a parking lot to get to an opening parking space. If they are moving quickly to get to the spot, they may not be paying attention and could hit a vehicle.
Many experienced drivers have had to stop short or beep their horn to prevent a vehicle from backing out of a parking spot and hitting them. It takes an abundance of caution and patience to scan ahead and identify hazards in time to react to them.
Aggressive driving is another leading factor in parking lot accidents. In some cases, competition for a good spot is intense. That frustration leads some drivers to speed, tailgate, cut other drivers off, and get verbally or physically aggressive.
It is tempting to confront an aggressive driver, but you should avoid doing this. A verbal dispute with the wrong person can quickly turn into a physical road rage assault. Instead, take a few deep breaths and continue with your day.
Some drivers believe it is safe to multitask as long as they are not on the highway. Instead of sending a text before they start their car, they try to accomplish the task while moving through the lot. In fact, the National Safety Council (NSC) reports that 66 percent of drivers in the United States make phone calls while driving in a parking lot, 56 percent of drivers send texts, and 52 percent of drivers use social media. Operating a motor vehicle in any capacity, even in a parking garage, requires the driver’s full attention.
Distracted driving is never safe. Think about the two to three seconds it takes to read or write a text message. In that short amount of time spent looking down at your phone, a car could appear in front of your vehicle.
As the data shows, pedestrians have high rates of injuries due to parking lot accidents. In a collision between a passenger car and a pedestrian, the person walking through the parking lot is much more likely to be seriously hurt or killed.
How Can Pedestrians Stay Safe in Parking Lots?
Here are some simple but effective tips to help pedestrians stay visible, safe, and injury-free while walking in a parking lot:
- Look both ways before crossing and use crosswalks when available.
- Avoid walking in areas where drivers are unlikely to see you, like between parked cars. Stick to open, well-lit spots.
- Keep your head up and stay alert. You cannot see vehicles approaching if you are looking down at your phone.
How Can Drivers Stay Safe in Parking Lots?
Here are some ways drivers can avoid parking lot accidents:
- Avoid cutting across parking spots. Stay in lanes and follow traffic patterns.
- Use your turn signals to let other drivers know your next move.
- Use your mirrors and back-up cameras to check for pedestrians and vehicles before backing out of a parking spot.
- Use technology, but do not depend on it solely to detect objects and people. Not all cameras and radar systems can detect objects closer to the ground. Turn and look all around the vehicle for approaching hazards.
- Do not speed. Most parking lots have a 10 mile-per-hour speed limit. At a faster speed, you may not have enough time or distance to come to a complete stop to avoid a collision with another vehicle.
- In poor weather, your vehicle is more prone to skidding. It is a good idea to slow down even more in rain, snow, and icy weather.
- Never assume another driver or pedestrian sees you or is prepared to stop. Have a plan to react to potential hazards.
- Even though at a low rate of speed, you can still be seriously hurt in a parking lot accident. Keep your seat belt on until you have stopped the vehicle and put it in park.
What Should I Do After a Parking Lot Accident?
For accidents that happen on the highway, it is often clear who is the at-fault driver in an accident. However, liability for parking lot accidents is not as easy to determine.
If you are involved in an accident in a parking lot, call the police to report the crash. If anyone at the scene needs medical attention, call 911 and tell the dispatcher you need an ambulance. If a pedestrian has been hit, do not attempt to move them. Stay nearby and reassure them help is on the way.
Collect as much evidence about the event as possible. Take pictures of the location, including damage to vehicles and other property. If another driver is involved, ask for their contact information and proof of auto insurance.
The police will ask any bystanders for statements about what they saw. When it is your turn to speak with the police, provide an honest account of what transpired. Do not accept blame or apologize. Stick to the facts.
After that, it is a good idea to contact a lawyer who focuses their practice on car accident claims. They will assess your situation and explain your rights, responsibilities, and options after a parking lot accident. If the crash is not your fault, you may have grounds to bring a claim for damages for any pain, medical costs, and lost wages.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Provide Legal Counsel to Clients Who Have Been Seriously Injured in Parking Lot Accidents
Just because vehicles move slower in parking lots does not mean parking lot collisions do not result in serious injuries. Every year, thousands of people suffer debilitating injuries in parking lot accidents. One of our Philadelphia car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC can protect your rights after a serious collision. Call us at 215-569-8488 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today. Located in Philadelphia, Abington, Media, Pennsylvania and Wilmington, Delaware, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.