Many people feel they are safe from being in an accident caused by a careless or impaired driver once they safely pull into the parking lot of their destination. The fact is, many accidents actually happen in parking lots. Pedestrians are seriously injured, and vehicles sustain considerable damage – just as they do on area roadways. The Washington Post reported in October, 2009 that one fifth of pedestrian accidents in their area are occurring in parking lots.
Thoughtless drivers who think the rules of safe driving do not apply to them are the most notorious when it comes to parking lot accidents. Because they are not on an actual street or road, they think the painted lines that delineate the parking lot areas are a “suggestion” of where to drive. We have all seen the hurried driver who cuts diagonally across the lot markings, which are there to indicate where vehicles should park. Not coincidentally, you will discover that these are the same drivers who often occupy two parking spaces with their one vehicle. While there are some who choose to park this way in order to avoid a potentially damaging ding to their shiny luxury car, there are still others who practice this inconsiderate parking technique absent-mindedly, with no regard for the inconvenience of others. Parking near them is almost sure to result in a banged up door or fender on your car.
Many drivers are in a hurry to get where they are going, and this becomes even more prevalent with the hustle and bustle of the Holiday Season. Mall shoppers are racing from one plaza to the next, chasing bargains. This results in people driving at a speed that is not safe for parking lots. People, and most often young children, can dart out from between vehicles, directly into the path of an oncoming car. There are also many drivers who do not adequately check behind their vehicle before backing out of their space. Not only could there be another car approaching with a driver who does not notice the car backing out, but there may be a pedestrian distracted by the hectic pace of shopping that does not notice the car is backing towards them. Injuries from these types of incidents can be extremely serious.
Here are some common sense tips for safe parking lot driving:
• Slow down. Racing through a parking lot greatly increases your chances of hitting another car or a pedestrian.
• Turn your headlights on even during the day, to allow others a better chance of seeing you approach.
• Obey all traffic and safety signs, just as if you were on the road. So many times, people feel that a stop sign located at the crosswalk of their grocery store is not a “real” traffic sign, simply because it is not on a city street.
• When backing out of your parking spot, take an additional minute to completely check behind you, and towards both sides of your car, to avoid backing into another car or a pedestrian. If possible, you may want to pull forward into the spot in front of your car when you are parking, to avoid the need to back out later.
• Park a little further away from the entrance to the business you are patronizing. You may avoid a costly door ding, and the extra walk will do you good.
• Always try to park as near as possible to a light when parking at night.
• If there are extracurricular activities happening in the parking lot, like a charity car wash or Christmas tree tent sale, try to avoid that area. More pedestrians and kids not watching out for cars can be a recipe for disaster.
A parking lot accident should be treated just the same way as an accident on a city street or any other road. Get the other driver’s name, driver’s license number and insurance information, license tag number and contact information. Immediately call the police, as some insurance companies will not pay a collision claim if there was no police report filed from the incident. Also try to get one or two impartial witnesses to provide their name and contact information, in case you need to corroborate your version of what happened.
“Parking lots are treated like race courses by some negligent drivers, especially during the busy shopping season,” notes personal injury attorney PJ Scheiner, of the Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner Personal Injury Lawyers “Avoiding an accident can be as simple as slowing down, and paying extra attention to your surroundings.”
The firm’s team of dedicated accident law experts is prepared to stand up for your legal rights if you have suffered an injury in a parking lot accident caused by a negligent driver. For a no-obligation consultation, call 1-800-Dial-BLS, or to see more information on our history of representing accident victims, visit www.focusedonjustice.com