Parking lots can be dangerous places for drivers and pedestrians alike. Even if drivers are obeying speed limits, they can seriously injure other drivers or pedestrians and cause expensive damage to other vehicles. Unfortunately, many drivers zoom through parking lots while distracted, putting others at risk.
When a crash occurs, it could be difficult to determine who is at fault, particularly if the crash happened while backing out of a parking space. No matter what happened in the accident, you can discuss the situation with a licensed attorney, as he or she may be able to help you seek compensation for your damages.
Right of Way in Parking Lots
There are some general rules about right of way in parking lots that may help the police, insurers, and attorneys determine who was at fault.
For example, if a vehicle is already in a lane of travel, it has the right of way. Vehicles backing out of parking spaces do not have the right of way, and neither do vehicles pulling out of a row of parking spaces. If you are pulling out of a parking lot, the drivers on the road you are turning onto have the right of way.
However, this general rule is superseded by a “STOP” or “YIELD” sign giving other vehicles the right of way over vehicles already in a lane of travel.
When backing out of a parking spot, make sure you are not backing up at the same time as another vehicle, as this could easily result in a collision. In these scenarios, the vehicle that started backing up first has the right of way. That means if you start backing up while another driver is already doing so, you will likely be held liable if a crash happens.
You must yield the right of way to any pedestrian at a clearly marked crosswalk, regular pedestrian crossing or any intersection where the legal maximum speed limit is no more than 35 miles per hour. However, pedestrians can enter or cross an intersection and disregard approaching traffic. Under Virginia Code section 46.2-923, pedestrians are prohibited from carelessly or maliciously interfering with the orderly passage of vehicles.
If you have questions about fault for a parking lot accident, you can discuss them with a licensed Richmond car accident attorney at Geoff McDonald and Associates.
Common Accidents in Parking Lots
Below, learn more about some of the most common parking lot accidents and how fault may be assessed in these situations:
Rear-End Crashes at STOP Signs
Many drivers are not paying attention to the road when in the parking lot. They may be searching for an open space or trying to find the store where they are looking to shop. Drivers may not expect a stop sign and they may be speeding, giving them less time to stop and avoid a collision with a driver stopped at a “STOP” sign.
Drivers need to leave enough room between their car and the one in front of them, so they have time to stop and avoid a collision.
Backing Out of a Parking Space into an Oncoming Car
While you may think both drivers could be held liable for the accident, the car in the lane of traffic has the right of way. That is why it is your responsibility to make sure it is safe to back out of a spot. If the other driver was speeding, it is conceivable he or she may bear partial fault for what happened. However, this would depend on the situation.
Two Drivers Try to Get the Same Spot
These are the kinds of situations that often result in drivers getting out of their cars yelling at each other because both thought they were entitled to the parking spot in question. Fault can be tough to assess as both vehicles were moving. However, if one driver was making a left turn across traffic, he or she is likely at fault.
That said, there are factors that may affect the determination of fault. For example, how far was one vehicle into the space when the collision occurred? What was the point of impact between both vehicles?
Collision with a Pedestrian in a Crosswalk
If a pedestrian runs out into a crosswalk as a vehicle is approaching and the driver does not have enough time to stop, the pedestrian may be found at fault. However, often the driver is to blame for the collision because he or she was speeding or not paying enough attention.
Call Geoff McDonald and Associates to Discuss Your Legal Options
Our firm knows how devastating car crashes can be for victims and their families. Even a seemingly minor crash could result in severe injuries that require extensive medical treatment and cause you to miss work for a significant amount of time.
Learn more about how we may be able to assist you in pursuing compensation to help you during this difficult time. The consultation is 100 percent free and you are not obligated to hire our firm.