According to the National Safety Council, one in five accidents occurs in a parking lot. Even though drivers assume that parking lots are safer than roads, parking lot accidents can cause severe injuries and property damage.
Drivers are often unprepared for what to do after a crash occurs in a parking lot. Additionally, there are many misconceptions about these types of collisions. Depending on the specific circumstances in your case, you may need to partner with a qualified Las Vegas car accident attorney to receive fair compensation for your losses. Here’s what to know about parking lot accidents and fault.
Why Are Parking Lot Accidents So Common?
Parking lots typically don’t have the same rules of the road or the clear markings that streets and highways have. A parking lot can seem like a free for all. There might be one lane of travel for vehicles traveling in both directions. A parking lot might not have clear markings for where to drive.
The very nature of a parking lot means that people are getting in and out of vehicles. Drivers who aren’t paying enough attention might not see pedestrians crossing the lane of travel. Pedestrians may not look for drivers before they try to cross a driving lane. In a parking lot, there are cars and people in a small, cramped space. All of these factors contribute to accidents in parking lots.
Common Ways Parking Lot Accidents Occur
There are a number of ways that accidents happen in parking lots:
- A driver backs out of a parking space and hits another vehicle that is already in the lane of travel
- Two drivers back out at the same time and strike each other
- A driver pulls out of a space by driving forward and hits a vehicle already in the lane of travel
- One driver turns the wrong way, resulting in an accident
- The driver in front stops suddenly, and the driver behind can’t stop
- A driver cuts off another driver in an attempt to get a parking space
- A driver fails to stop for pedestrians
- The driver misjudges the space and hits a parked car
How to Determine Fault After a Car Accident
Rules for determining fault for parking lot accidents are similar to the rules of fault for all Nevada car accidents. The general rules of negligence apply. The person who should have been more careful to avoid the crash generally bears liability. Because Nevada is an at-fault state, the responsible party and their insurance company should pay for the damages.
There are some practical differences between streets and parking lots that make determining fault more difficult when a crash occurs in a parking lot. Parking lots don’t have the same clear rules for traffic flow that exist on the roads. Traffic signs may not be posted, or they may be confusing. Law enforcement is less likely to respond and conduct an investigation when an accident occurs in a parking lot.
Despite these challenges, the same rules for determining fault for an accident apply. You should look at the actions of each party to determine if anyone violated a traffic control law or posted instructions. Violating a law or rule is substantial evidence of fault, but it’s not the only question. Fault may lie with one party or with both parties.
Hit and Run Laws and Parking Lots
When you’re in an accident in a parking lot, Nevada law requires you to stop your vehicle. You must find the other driver and give them your name and address. If you can’t find the driver, you can leave your information conspicuously in or on their vehicle. You must also call the police.
If you don’t do these things, you’ve committed a hit and run under Nevada law. You face jail time, suspension of your driver’s license, and points on your license. If you later claim the accident isn’t your fault, you’ll have a harder time making your case if you choose to flee the scene of the crash.
Injuries and the Insurance Company
Parking lot accidents can be severe. Some people drive at high speeds or drive recklessly when they’re in a parking lot. There are often pedestrians involved who don’t have a vehicle to protect them.
The insurance company might try to claim that your accident can’t be serious because it happened in a parking lot. However, Nevada law requires the insurance company to pay you fairly for the value of your claim under the insurance policies in place at the time of the crash. If the insurance company isn’t eager to pay you what you deserve, an attorney can help you negotiate or bring a formal claim for fair compensation.
Can You Hold the Parking Lot Owners Accountable?
In some cases, you may be able to hold the parking lot owner accountable. You have to show that the parking lot was unreasonably dangerous and that the parking lot owners knew it or should have known. It’s not easy to prove, but an experienced car accident attorney can help you evaluate your options.
What Do I Do If I’m in an Accident in a Parking Lot?
If you’re in a car accident in a parking lot, do the following:
- Call the police
- Exchange contact information with others involved. If you can’t find the other driver, leave your name and address in a safe place where the other driver can easily find it
- Take photos. You can use your smartphone
- Seek medical treatment if there’s the slightest chance you have any injuries
- As soon as you can, write out a narrative of what happened. Put in all the details even if you don’t think they’re significant
- Work with an attorney quickly to secure surveillance video that may be available and contact witnesses
How Can an Attorney Help?
Don’t assume that your parking lot accident isn’t important enough to pursue. Even a parking lot accident may have serious consequences. You deserve fair compensation for your injuries.
You may need to fight the insurance company to get what you deserve. A car accident attorney can help you evaluate your case and make a plan for a fair recovery in your case.