Parking lots can be difficult to maneuver through on the best of days. Cars going every which way, distracted pedestrians, misplaced shopping carts—a driver has to be on full alert. Yet even the best drivers among us can still end up in an accident. One bright side is that most parking lot accidents tend to happen at a low speed, so they’re usually not that serious. But they do happen, and many times people end up arguing over who’s at fault. Today we’ll try to shed some light on who has the right of way in parking lots.
Picture the parking lot at your favorite shopping center or perhaps even your office building. Usually it’s rows of parking lanes with spots for cars on both sides, then through lanes for cars to drive around the perimeter of the lot and enter/exit the parking lanes. Generally, the cars in those through lanes have the right of way. Vehicles approaching the through lanes from the parking lanes should yield to the vehicles in the through lanes. For example, if a car is pulling out from a parking lane, fails to yield to you as you’re driving in the through lane and causes a car accident, they’ll likely be found at fault.
Assessing liability after a crash
It’s also common for accidents to occur while vehicles are backing out of parking spots. In instances like this, fault is a bit more difficult to determine because both drivers have a responsibility to ensure that it’s safe to back into the parking lane. For example, if one car starts backing up, the driver in the spot on the other side should be looking and waiting before exiting their own spot. If they don’t exercise that care, it’s likely they’ll be found at fault for the collision.
However, sometimes it’s not clear which vehicle began to back out first and two vehicles hit each other in the middle of the parking lane. Fault is more difficult to determine in this case, but you shouldn’t assume you were the one at fault just because you were backing up.
It’s important, however, to try to determine fault—if you can—in a parking lot accident. This comes into play regarding whether the other person’s car insurance will cover damage to both vehicles and any injuries that might have occurred. This is because Mississippi is a comparative negligence state: even if you contributed to the crash in some way, you may still be able to collect compensation for it.
Furthermore, the owner/operator of the lot may also be found liable in some way for any injuries or property damage you sustain. Property owners have an obligation to keep their premises safe for visitors. If your collision was related to broken or malfunctioning lights, or to poor visibility, or to some other unsafe or defective part of the lot itself, you may be able to file a premises liability claim.
At Taylor Jones Taylor, we help people who have sustained serious injuries because of other people’s negligence. Our car crash lawyers provide comprehensive counsel to clients in Southaven, Olive Branch, Hernando and the surrounding areas. To schedule a free consultation, call 662.253.5193 or fill out our contact form to learn more today.