When vehicles collide in a parking lot, it can often be difficult to determine which driver was at fault. Keep reading, and we’ll briefly examine the legal issues – and how they might affect you.
You’ll also learn about your rights if you’re injured by a negligent driver in a parking lot. With cars moving in all directions and limited visibility, a parking lot accident can happen to anyone.
A variety of factors must be considered when determining which driver is at fault in a parking lot crash. As you drive past rows of parking spots, who has the right-of-way?
HOW ARE PARKING LOTS DESIGNED?
A typical parking lot has two types of lanes: “feeder” lanes and “thoroughfare” lanes. Thoroughfare lanes are a parking lot’s arteries; they lead to the entrances and exits.
Feeder lanes usually are the smaller lanes that link the thoroughfares and lead to parking spots. Cars in thoroughfare lanes have the right-of-way over cars entering from feeder lanes.
When a vehicle is in a feeder lane approaching a thoroughfare lane, that vehicle must stop if traffic is in the thoroughfare and must let that traffic proceed.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE OTHER PARKING LOT DRIVING RULES?
If you are leaving a parking spot, you must yield to vehicles moving in the lane behind or in front of you, as if you were pulling out of a parking lot or driveway and onto the street.
Stop and yield signs must be adhered to in parking lots, and any failure to adhere to those signs makes it your fault if a collision happens.
Perhaps the most frequent kind of parking lot accident happens when a driver backs out of a space and into another vehicle. The driver who was backing out is almost always at fault here.
And in most cases, generally speaking, whenever a driver collides with a vehicle that is legally parked, the crash will be that driver’s fault.
WHAT ABOUT “BACKING OUT” ACCIDENTS?
When two vehicles are backing out of spots on opposite sides of the same parking lane, and they collide, fault can be difficult to determine, and in some cases it may be shared by both motorists.
“Simultaneous backup” accidents are quite common, so do not automatically assume that you are at fault if you impact another vehicle when you back out of a parking space.
If a driver who is backing out of a parking spot hits you, it’s probably going to be deemed that driver’s fault, but it is every driver’s obligation to do everything possible to avoid collisions.
Every driver knows that maneuvering in parking lots is difficult. Watch for drivers who are backing out, and remember that those drivers – like you – may be dealing with blind spots.
WHY IS THE DETERMINATION OF FAULT SO IMPORTANT TO YOU?
Will your auto insurance cover damage to the vehicles and any personal injuries that are sustained in a parking lot crash?
It may depend on which motorist was at fault. Georgia is not a no-fault insurance state.
Consequently, you must be careful what you say after an accident. Don’t admit fault, even if you think that you’re at fault. Let the auto insurance companies conduct their investigation.
WHAT ARE GEORGIA’S AUTO INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS?
In Georgia, drivers must carry at least $25,000 in bodily injury coverage per person and $50,000 per accident. The property damage liability minimum is $25,000 in coverage per accident.
As mentioned above, Georgia is not a no-fault auto insurance state. An injury victim may sue the other party for medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering, and all related losses and damages.
If you are injured by a negligent driver in a parking lot or in any other setting, discuss your rights and options as quickly as possible with a good personal injury lawyer.
WHAT ELSE IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW ABOUT PARKING LOT COLLISIONS?
If a motorist collides with a parked vehicle, leaves the scene, and makes no effort to contact the vehicle’s owner, that driver could face criminal charges. Never leave the scene of an accident.
Drivers also need to be cautious regarding pedestrians in parking lots. They walk between vehicles and may be hard to see, especially if it’s night or if there’s poor lighting.
It’s also probably best to keep your speed in a parking lot at or below approximately 15 miles per hour.
IN WHICH CASES WILL YOU NEED AN ATTORNEY’S HELP?
If you are a driver in a parking lot collision, and if the damage to your vehicle is minor and no one was injured, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t file a damage claim and negotiate directly with the insurance company for your settlement.
But if you are injured or even think that you may be injured, seek medical attention at once. Do not speak or negotiate with the insurance company, admit any fault, or sign any documents.
Instead, take your case directly and immediately to an experienced Atlanta personal injury attorney.
WHY SHOULD YOU SEE A DOCTOR AFTER EVEN A MINOR ACCIDENT?
Even if you don’t believe that you’ve been injured in a parking lot collision, get checked by a healthcare professional.
Don’t try to shrug off any lingering pain or soreness. Over just a few days or weeks, that pain or soreness could emerge as a serious medical condition.
If you’re injured, don’t even speak with the insurance company. Let your lawyer – a trained and experienced negotiator – handle the insurance company on your behalf.
WHY SHOULD YOU HAVE A LAWYER NEGOTIATE ON YOUR BEHALF?
Many people are enticed to accept the first settlement amount an insurance company offers. Don’t.
Once you agree to a settlement and sign it, you waive your right to take additional legal action in the future -regardless of the extent or severity of your personal injury or injuries.
Anyone who is injured in this state as a result of someone else’s negligence in an auto accident – or in any other scenario – is entitled by Georgia law to full compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering, and all related losses and damages.
IF YOU’RE INJURED IN A PARKING LOT, HOW LONG DO YOU HAVE TO ACT?
However, Georgia enforces a strict statute of limitations for personal injury cases. You must bring legal action within two years of the date when you were injured.
But don’t wait two years. If you are injured by negligence in a parking lot or in any other setting, you must speak as quickly as possible with an experienced Atlanta personal injury attorney.
Don’t put your health and your future at risk. Nothing is more important. If you’ve been injured by negligence in this state, get the legal help you need. That is your right.