Determining accident liability in a parking lot accident is the first step in filing a personal injury lawsuit following an accident resulting in injury or property damage. Parking lots are common accident scenes. Typically accidents in parking lots occur at slow speeds, but the damage and injuries can be bad. Drivers strike pedestrians, other vehicles, or may themselves be struck by abandoned shopping carts.
Driver inattention can be higher in a parking lot than perhaps most other roadways. Drivers in parking lots can be easily distracted while looking for stores, signs and open parking spots. Driver inattention is not an excuse though for striking another vehicle or pedestrian in a parking lot and a driver who is not paying attention could be liable for an accident. Sometimes two drivers can both be liable for not keeping a proper lookout in a parking lot. There are many areas where drivers are backing up and stopping suddenly and there are typically few signs to direct traffic. Pedestrians must share some of the responsibility in a parking lot and must pay attention to their surroundings as well. Pedestrians can be liable in some cases if they negligently put themselves in harm’s way.
Parking Lot Maintenance: Upkeep and Signage
The owner of the parking lot is ultimately responsible for hiring competent maintenance workers and for providing proper signage like stop signs and warning signs if there are hazards in the parking lot. Liability for an accident which occurs at an unmarked intersection in a parking lot may fall on the owner of the parking lot if he should have known it needed signage for directing drivers. Crosswalks must be well-marked for pedestrians and for drivers and an accident which occurs due to a failure to mark them may be the fault of the owner of the parking lot.
The group responsible for maintenance of the parking lot must provide clear surfaces for vehicles and pedestrians. Snow and ice must be removed in a timely manner. The maintenance crew may be liable for an accident which occurs under conditions which could have been prevented by proper maintenance. In addition to removal of snow and ice, improper drainage which creates pooling or flooding might also be the cause of an accident. Pot holes and debris in the parking lot might also cause problems and the maintenance group is liable for keeping the parking lot clear of such hazards.
Getting Legal Help
Determining who is liable in a parking lot is the first step in deciding how to handle a personal injury claim. An experienced personal injury attorney can help assess the possible liable parties and can consult an injured victim on options in filing a personal injury lawsuit.