Parking lots can offer some of the most chaotic driving situations you’ll ever encounter – if you’ve gone shopping on Black Friday, you know what we mean. Even with a low speed limit, accidents in parking lots and parking garages can end in tragedy, especially for pedestrians and small children. Whether it’s a parking lot at a shopping center, place of business, church, or school, people can get hurt when other drivers are negligent or reckless behind the wheel.
Parking lot accidents are more common and more serious than you might think. CBS News reports that at least 60,000 people are injured and more than 500 people die in 50,000+ parking lot and garage car crashes every year. It appears the most common cause of these crashes is driver inattention.
National Safety Council (NSC) president Deborah Hersman told CBS, “It’s just as dangerous to be distracted in a parking lot going 5 mph as it is going 50 mph. People have their heads down, they’re on their phones whether they’re behind the wheel or whether they are pedestrians. There’s just a lot of inattention out there.”
Distracted driving: a big problem
Because parking lots are bustling with activity – including pedestrians with shopping carts and children, drivers looking for parking spots, and vehicles backing out – it only takes a moment of inattention for a collision to occur. This could involve two vehicles hitting each other, or a vehicle striking a pedestrian. A public opinion poll conducted by the National Safety Council shows that, overwhelmingly, the main cause of parking lot accidents and injuries is distracted driving.
Out of this survey of drivers nationwide, respondents reported that they engage in the following behaviors while driving in parking lots and garages:
- Making phone calls – 66%
- Programming their GPS – 63%
- Texting – 56%
- Using social media – 52%
- Sending or receiving emails – 50%
- Taking photos or watching videos – 49%
Backing-up accidents in parking lots
The NSC also estimates that about nine percent of parking lot accident deaths occur while a vehicle is in reverse. One of the most common types of collisions in lots and garages are backing-up accidents, which are exactly what they sound like. Pulling into a parking space nose-forward requires backing out, a task which demands full attention in a busy parking lot. Even with rear-view cameras, drivers should never rely solely on safety technology and always check their mirrors and around their vehicles before reversing out of a parking space.
Automotive Fleet reports that over 6,000 Americans are injured every year from vehicles backing up, and about 2,400 of these victims are children. Phil Samuelson, a fleet and capital asset manager, said regarding backing-up accidents: “It’s 110% avoidable. All the vehicles that we’ve acquired in the last three years have back-up cameras and we’ve implemented back up alarms as well, but we still have backing accidents.”
When a driver backs out of a spot and into another car or pedestrian, the chances are quite high that they will be held at fault. However, when two drivers back out at the same time and collide into each other, fault may not be as easy to determine, and you may need an experienced attorney to advocate for your best interests – especially when you have suffered an injury.
It is important for pedestrians and cyclists to always remain alert in parking lots and garages as well.
If you’re injured in a parking lot or parking garage
Taking certain steps after you are hit in a parking lot can protect both your physical safety and your potential personal injury case:
- Notify the police, who will call for medical help if necessary, and take an official report. You will need this report for your injury claim, and it will contain the pertinent information your insurance company will need. You can request a copy of the police report after your accident, typically a day or so later.
- Ask any witnesses for their contact information, including phone numbers and addresses – get as much information as you can.
- If you’re able, take photos of the accident scene and your injuries. Try to get multiple angles of the vehicles and damage. Note if there are any security cameras in the area and let your attorneys know so they can obtain the footage for your case.
- Visit a doctor immediately to get checked out, even if you don’t feel injured at the moment. Some injuries may take a few days to symptomize, and it is best to seek medical treatment right after the accident. Ensure you save all documentation and follow your doctor’s instructions to the letter.
- Then, consult with personal injury attorneys to determine your next steps and whether you may be entitled to financial compensation.
The lawyers at Harris Lowry Manton LLP represent victims of negligence and distracted driving. If you were hurt in an accident that wasn’t your fault, let us help you secure the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
To schedule your free, confidential case evaluation today, call our Atlanta office at 404-998-8847, our Savannah office at 912-417-3774, or reach out to us through our contact page to share your experience.
Steve Lowry is an award-winning litigator who has secured record-setting jury verdicts on behalf of his clients. A passionate advocate for individuals who have been harmed by the actions of others, Steve has won numerous top 10 verdicts in Georgia.
Read more about Stephen G. Lowry here.