Car accidents occur in parking lots every day. With people struggling to back out all at once amidst shoppers and other distractions, you are bound to bump into someone else at some point or another. Fortunately, most parking lot accidents happen at low speeds and typically don’t cause significant damages. However, determining fault for these incidents can be very tricky. In many parking lots, it can be difficult for drivers to tell who has the right of way when there are insufficient traffic flow signs, and this is an important factor in determining liability.
An experienced Long Island car accident attorney will thoroughly go over your case with you and investigate to determine the party who is responsible for the accident.
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What Is “Right of Way” and Why Does It Matter?
Traffic signals like stop signs, traffic lights, one-way signs, and other signs all help drivers anticipate the actions of other drivers. The “right of way” applies to the driver who expedites the flow of traffic the most. For example, imagine an intersection with two lanes in each direction, and the left lanes are for turning. When the drivers in the turning lanes have a green arrow, they have the right of way to turn. When the arrow turns yellow and then disappears, the drivers traveling straight have the right-of-way, and a driver who wants to turn must wait until the way is clear as long as there are no other signs that prohibit turning at the time.
At a four-way stop sign, most drivers generally follow a “first come, first served” rule; the first driver to stop at the intersection goes first, followed by the next driver to stop, and so on. If a driver “rolls through” a stop sign by failing to come to a complete stop it can disrupt the flow of traffic through the intersection and cause an accident.
The problem with parking lot accidents is that most do not have traffic signals beyond a few stop signs and designated turning lanes. Generally, vehicles in through lanes have the right of way, but not everyone may know this or choose to abide by it even if they do know. If a driver pulls out of a parking space and into a through the lane and collides with a driver in the through lane, the driver who left the parking space will likely absorb fault for the accident because it was the other driver’s turn to go. Blind spots and distractions certainly play significant roles in parking lot accidents, but being aware of your surroundings while backing out of a space is crucial and is the full responsibility of that driver.
Accidents While Parking
Many parking lot accidents occur because drivers do not exercise reasonable care when pulling into parking spaces. If a driver pulls into a parking space too quickly without being able to fully see if there is anyone already there, it is possible he or she could crash into a motorcycle, Smart Car, or another compact vehicle that is not so easily visible. When a driver backs out of a parking space, any drivers nearby passing or waiting for the space to open need to provide room for the reversing driver to safely maneuver. Otherwise, the driver backing out has insufficient space to safely exit the parking lot.
It is also possible for two vehicles to collide when both drivers attempt to back out of their spaces at the same time. Drivers in nearby spaces may crash if they reverse in opposite directions, or a crash could happen when drivers on opposite sides of the through lane back up at the same time. It’s always best to err on the side of caution and wait if you notice another nearby driver backing out of a parking space when you intend to leave rather than try to beat them to the punch and wind up in a collision.
The Role of Fault in a Parking Lot Accident Case
Fault can play a crucial role in any parking lot accident, and determining fault may require looking at security footage from the parking lot, dash-cam data, or reviewing witness statements. An at-fault driver is responsible for the damages his or her behavior causes. Luckily, most parking lot accidents only equate to minor fender-benders, but this isn’t always the case. Even a mild impact can cause an injury or aggravate a preexisting medical condition for some drivers.
Though it is scary to think about, there is also the risk that a distracted driver could run into a pedestrian. Though most people of average height will appear in a rearview mirror, children and small pets are not so easy to see, and if they are standing behind a vehicle attempting to back up they could be hit. Though this would not necessarily be the fault of the driver, but rather of the parent or pet owner, it is reason enough to take extra caution in parking lots especially when going in reverse.
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Call a Long Island Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you or someone you know recently experienced a car accident in a parking lot and the matter of who is at fault is unclear or unknown, call on a reliable Nassau County car accident lawyer. At Rosenberg & Gluck, LLP, we know the frustration you can experience after a minor parking lot collision, those of which are increased if you were also injured as a result. Our personal injury firm has decades of experience handling claims of this nature, and we stand by our clients while we investigate and determine who is at fault.
If you are unsure of where to begin after your parking lot collision, our dedicated attorneys can offer guidance and go over your chances of succeeding with a lawsuit for your damages with you. Do not wait after your accident for someone else to decide your fate without proper investigation, call Rosenberg & Gluck, LLP at (631) 250-4072.