Posted on behalf of Arnold Law Firm on January 28, 2020 in Auto Accident. Updated on May 30, 2023
Many parking lot accidents happen when drivers are backing out of a parking space. When these collisions occur, drivers often argue about who is at fault.
The answer depends on who had the right of way in the moments before the accident. The trouble is parking lots are such hotbeds of activity it can be difficult to determine who had the right of way and who was required to yield.
Below, the experienced Sacramento car accident lawyers from the Arnold Law Firm discuss who is at fault for a backing-out accident in a parking lot in California, including who has the right of way.
Parking lots are made up of two types of roads:
The general rule on parking lot right of way is drivers in parking spaces must yield to drivers in feeder lanes. Just like exiting a driveway onto a roadway, vehicles that are already in motion and in the flow of traffic have the right of way.
This means drivers who are backing out of a parking space or driveway must look for oncoming traffic and only pull out of the spot when they have enough time to do so safely.
Here are some of the other rules about who has the right of way in a parking lot:
Drivers who are backing out of a parking space or driveway must yield to others in the parking lot. If a driver backing up from a parking space hits another vehicle, pedestrian or cyclist, the driver is most likely going to be at fault for damages.
This is because the person or vehicle that got hit had the right of way. One of the first things the insurance company is going to consider after a reversing accident is who had the right of way.
However, there are some exceptions to this general rule. For example, if another driver disobeyed a posted traffic sign and caused a collision. If you looked and it seemed like you had plenty of time to back out, but you hit a car that came speeding down the feeder lane, the driver of that vehicle may be partially at fault.
Despite the fact you are required to yield to pedestrians, there may be times when pedestrians are at fault. This might be the case if a pedestrian was particularly negligent, such as if he or she ran behind your car without warning.
If two drivers are backing out of two parking spaces and they crash into each other, they probably share fault for the collision. One driver may bear more fault than the other because one of the drivers may have been farther out of the spot than the other. In this situation, the driver who was not as far out of the parking space should likely have been the one to yield.
Fortunately, accidents involving two drivers backing out of parking spaces are rare. They are also less likely to cause serious injuries than other types of parking lot crashes. This is because there is not enough space in that situation to allow a vehicle to speed up and generate more force at impact.
However, these types of accidents often result in drivers making contradictory statements about what happened. This can make the case challenging, which is why victims need an experienced attorney.
Back-up accidents most commonly occur in parking lots and residential areas. For example, drivers may need to back out of their driveway onto a residential street. Drivers need to look behind them and make sure they have enough space and time to back out safely. Drivers also need to be alert for pedestrians and bicyclists, particularly small children who may be walking or riding their bikes.
Backing-up accidents could also occur in intersections. If a driver stops at an intersection because the light turned red while approaching the intersection, he or she may need to back up to get out of the way of oncoming traffic. Drivers need to be cautious while doing this because they could back up into the car behind them.
Sometimes these accidents happen when a rear driver continues to pull forward without realizing the lead driver is backing up.
Most car accident claims in California involve one driver who is 100 percent at fault. Under California law, drivers who are at fault for a collision are responsible for the victim’s damages. That is why our state requires drivers to purchase liability insurance. This insurance helps to pay for medical costs and other damages suffered by the victim.
There are cases, however, when two or more drivers may share fault for a crash. These situations are governed by California’s pure comparative negligence law. Under this law, your damages will be reduced based on your percentage of fault. For example, if you are 20 percent at fault for the collision, you can only recover 80 percent of the value of your damages.
Some states prohibit the recovery of compensation if you bear too much fault. In California, however, you could be 99 percent at fault and still recover compensation. This means if you were injured while backing out of a parking space and you bear the majority of fault for the crash, you can still recover compensation.
When you file a claim for a reversing accident, the insurance company is going to try to find any reason to assign you partial responsibility. If successful, then the insurance company would be able to pay out less compensation.
Tens of thousands of car accidents happen in parking lots and parking garages each year, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). While thousands of people suffer injuries in these collisions, hundreds more are fatally injured.
These crashes happen throughout the year, but they are much more common during the holiday season, including on Black Friday.
One of the reasons parking lot car accidents are so common, including accidents that occur when drivers are backing out of parking spaces, is because drivers are distracted. The NSC conducted a public opinion poll that found 66 percent of drivers across the nation make phone calls in parking lots.
Another 63 percent of drivers program their GPS systems in parking lots, while 56 percent send text messages, 52 percent use social media, 50 percent send or receive emails and another 49 percent watch videos or take pictures.
Parking lots are hectic places with obstructed visibility. Backing-up accidents usually occur because one person failed to yield.
Some of the other causes of parking lot collisions include:
Here are some of the common types of parking lot accidents that could be caused by driver negligence:
If an accident occurs because a driver’s view is obscured, it is important to determine what caused poor visibility. Was it because of an overgrown tree or poor parking lot design? If so, there is a chance that the property owner may be liable.
Property owners may be liable for hazardous conditions on their property that result in a collision. This includes the parking lot of a business.
Landlords are expected to:
It is important to note that parking lot accidents are usually a result of driver negligence, though. If the property owner is liable, they are probably only partially liable. Drivers usually bear the largest percentage of fault for a parking lot crash.
After a parking lot accident, you should take these important steps:
To avoid parking lot accidents, be cautious and follow these best practices:
If you were injured in a parking lot collision while you or another driver was backing out of a parking space, our attorneys are available to discuss possible legal options.
Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today. We charge no upfront fees, and you only pay us if we recover compensation for you.
Call the Arnold Law Firm at (916) 777-7777 or complete our Free Case Evaluation form.
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