Who Has the Right-of-Way When Backing Out?

Do I Have the Right-of-Way When Backing Out of a Parking Space in California?

man-with-hat-coat-beard-driving-reverseBusy parking lots that are full of pedestrians and traffic in every direction are a hot spot for car accidents. When a parking lot accident does occur, who may be at fault?

The answer is usually based on who had the right-of-way. Below, learn more about who has the right-of-way when a driver is backing out of a parking spot.

If you were injured in a parking lot accident, schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our Sacramento car accident lawyers. We can discuss the legal options that may be available to you.

How Does Right-of-Way Work in a Parking Lot?

Parking lots are made up of two types of roadways:

  • Thoroughfares – these are lanes that exit onto a roadway. They are the main lanes through a parking lot and are usually wider.
  • Feeder lanes usually start at one thoroughfare and end at another. Feeder lanes are typically not as wide as thoroughfares.

Several factors determine who has the right-of-way and who may be at fault for a parking lot accident:

  • Vehicles in thoroughfares typically have the right-of-wayover vehicles leaving feeder lanes.
  • Drivers turning left or right from a thoroughfare into a feeder lane or other roadway must yield the right-of-way to traffic approaching from the opposite direction as well as cyclists and pedestrians.
  • Vehicles driving through a feeder lane have the right-of-way over vehicles exiting a parking space. Just like exiting a driveway onto a roadway, vehicles already in motion have the right-of-way.
  • Any stop or yield signs located in the parking lot override the presumed right-of-way. Traffic signs in a parking lot must be obeyed.

Is the Driver Backing Out Always At Fault?

A Driver backing out of a parking spot must yield to others in the parking lot. Therefore, if a driver backs out of a parking space and hits another vehicle, pedestrian or cyclist, he or she may be liable for damages.

However, there are some exceptions. For example, if another driver disobeyed a posted traffic sign and caused a collision.

What Should I Do After a Parking Lot Accident?

After a parking lot accident, you should take these important steps:

  • Call the police – The responding officer should conduct a preliminary investigation and include his or her determination of who caused the crash in the police report to be used as evidence during your claim.
  • Get medical attention – Seeking medical attention as soon as possible after the accident can help link your injuries to the crash so the insurance company has a harder time saying you were not injured or that your injuries were a result of something unrelated to the crash.
  • Take photos of the scene – If you can safely do so, get photos of the damage to your vehicle and the vehicle that hit you, as well as anything worth noting about the crash like visibility, obstructions, lines on the road, etc.
  • Get contact information from potential witnesses – If there are people in the parking lot who witnessed the collision you should get their contact information so your attorney can speak to them about what they witnessed. You should also consider calling an experienced attorney who can help you through the process of filing a claim. Our lawyers are prepared to help. We can file the insurance claim on your behalf and gather the necessary evidence to build a strong case for compensation.

What Are the Common Reasons for Parking Lot Accidents?

Parking lots are hectic places with obstructed visibility. Accidents in a parking lot usually occur because one person failed to yield.

Some examples include the following:

  • A driver fails to make sure the way is clear before pulling out of a parking spot.
  • Two vehicles collide as they both back up and pull out of their respective parking spaces at the same time.
  • A moving vehicle hits a parked vehicle, such as backing into a car while exiting a parking space or clipping the bumper of a vehicle while maneuvering in or out of a parking space.
  • A vehicle strikes a pedestrian in a parking lot. A driver is speeding through the parking lot and fails to see another vehicle backing out of a spot.

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.

When Can a Property Owner Be Liable for a Parking Lot Accident?

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:

  • Cut back landscaping
  • Fix potholes
  • Ensure markings on the travel lanes are visible
  • Maintain adequate lighting
  • Provide appropriate staff

It is important to note that parking lot accidents are usually a result of driver negligence, though. There is a greater chance that the property owner may only be partially liable for damages if an accident occurs.

How Can I Avoid Parking Lot Accidents?

To avoid parking lot accidents, be cautious and follow these best practices:

  • Drive slowly through parking lots. If a speed limit is posted, do not exceed it.
  • Use turn signals to show pedestrians and other motorists your intentions.
  • Watch for vehicles backing out of parking spaces, as their view may be obstructed.
  • Park in spots further away from your destination instead of circling the lot for a closer spot.
  • Park in the back of the parking lot for less congestion to make exiting easier.
  • Make sure your vehicle is fully within your parking spot and centered.
  • When backing out of a parking spot, physically look for traffic and pedestrians. Do not rely only on your vehicle’s backup camera.
  • Back up or pull out of a parking space slowly while watching for oncoming traffic or pedestrians, as your view may be obstructed by other vehicles or structures.

Call a Trusted Lawyer if You Were Injured in a Parking Lot Accident

If you were injured in a parking lot collision, 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.