Driving or riding in a car or truck comes with definite risks. As we all know, dangers can come from every direction on the road, and some circumstances are more dangerous than others. In assessing risk, all kinds of variables factor into the level of danger we might face at any given time. Are we driving at night in a poorly lighted area? Is another driver distracted, speeding, or under the influence of an intoxicant? Obviously, the answers to such questions affect our safety.
But what about parking lots and parking garages? We’re guessing that few people would think of them as dangerous places. But we also speculate that more accidents happen in these locations than you think. And while it is true that parking lots have many low-impact accidents without serious injury, it is also true that some people suffer severe injuries, and some die as a result of accidents in parking lots. These are the various issues we will discuss in this article.
Parking Lot Statistics
CBS News reports that, according to the National Safety Council, more than 50,000 crashes occur in parking lots every year. That represents 20 percent of all automobile accidents. Moreover, 500 or more people die each year in these crashes. Another 60,000 people are injured each year.
Why Do So Many Accidents Occur in Parking Lots and Garages?
While these accidents have numerous causes, the National Safety Council (NSC) cites distraction as a leading cause. Many drivers do not treat parking lots with the same attention and respect as public roads, highways and interstates. As a result, the NSC conducted a public opinion poll asking drivers if they engaged in certain activities in parking lots. The following are things drivers admitted doing while they are driving in parking lots, followed by the percentage of drivers who said they engage in the activity:
- Make telephone calls – Adults 66 percent; Teens 60 percent
- Text – 56 percent
- Use social media – 52 percent.
- Use email – 50 percent.
- Watch videos / take photographs – 49 percent.
- Engage in personal grooming – Teens 59 percent; Adults 53 percent
Thus, it is not surprising that accidents are occurring. These accidents do not always involve two cars. Many accidents involve pedestrians. Older adults and children are particularly vulnerable to pedestrian accidents.
Who Is Liable for Parking Lot Accidents?
Liability is often less clear than in motor vehicle accidents that occur on public roads. However, we can provide some general guidelines.
Parking lots generally have lanes with spaces which we will call “parking lanes.” These parking lanes feed into larger roads that we will call “through lanes.” Through lanes generally have the right of way over parking lanes. In addition, people driving in the parking lane generally have the right of way over vehicles pulling out of parking spaces. Finally, most of the time, pedestrians have the right of way over automobiles.
As we discussed, these are very general rules and may or may not be applicable, depending on the circumstances of a particular accident. If you have doubts, call us for a free consultation. A thorough investigation may be needed when accidents occur in a parking lot or parking deck. This can include talking to witnesses, looking at camera footage, examining car damage, and investigating other physical evidence, such as skid marks and photographs.
Call with Questions
If you have been injured in a parking lot or parking garage accident due to the negligence of another, you have rights, including the right to recover damages. However, there may be multiple parties, including the owner of the premises, and their insurance policies, at play. The experienced personal injury lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield have experience investigating such accidents, and would be happy to answer all of your questions in a free consultation. We represent personal injury clients all across Oregon. We are confident that the best way to make Oregon safer for everyone is by holding negligent wrongdoers accountable for their actions.