Parking lots and parking garages are a lot more dangerous than most people realize. These areas present unique risks that are not always present on the streets and highways. For example, lots and garages are compact areas that are often enclosed and more difficult to maneuver in and out of. In addition, there is much more pedestrian traffic with people continually walking to and from their vehicles.
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), there are over 50,000 crashes in parking lots and garages each year, resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of serious injuries. And these types of accidents are most prevalent during the holiday season, when traffic spikes at shopping malls, restaurants, and other retail establishments. Overall, accidents in parking lots and parking garages account for more than 20% of all traffic-related accidents.
Common Causes of Parking Lot Accidents
As mentioned earlier, there are some unique hazards that heighten the risk of parking lot and garage accidents. These areas typically have poor lighting, limited visibility, and tight corners, and there are often multiple vehicles circling around looking for a parking spot.
These conditions can cause various types of accidents. Examples include collisions between two vehicles (such as when two cars are backing up at the same time), vehicles colliding into pedestrians, vehicles colliding into bicycles or motorcycles that are passing by, or pedestrians slipping, tripping and falling due to other hazards.
Parking lot accidents are often the fault of one or more motorists, but pedestrians and others involved may also play a role. A third party that is not directly involved in the accident might also be to blame, such as those who own or manage the lot or garage and/or those responsible for maintaining it.
Here are some of the most common causes of parking lot and garage accidents:
- Aggressive/Reckless Driving: Many people who come in and out of parking areas are under stress. They are running late for work, running late for an appointment, or just trying to fit all of their holiday shopping into their tight schedules. This causes motorists to drive more aggressively in lots and garages as they compete for parking spots. The increased traffic during the holidays makes things worse, as does the winter weather in outdoor parking lots in states like Pennsylvania.
- Distractions: Because drivers go slower in lots and garages, they seem to feel more comfortable distracting themselves with their smartphone. An NSC survey revealed that 66% of motorists felt comfortable making phone calls when driving through parking areas, and more than 50% were fine with programming GPS systems, sending texts, using social media, and sending and receiving emails. A high percentage of pedestrians also use their smartphones frequently to send and receive electronic messages, watch videos, take selfies, and similar activities.
- Negligent Maintenance: Many of these parking areas are aged and have not been adequately maintained. They have cracks in the cement, potholes, uneven pavement, and similar problems. These issues are a major contributor to many pedestrian accidents, particularly among small children and the elderly.
- Faulty Designs: Sometimes, the way a lot or garage is designed can be a factor that contributes to accidents. For example, these areas often have signs that are very confusing with arrows pointing in multiple directions. Driving lanes and parking spots may not even be marked, or the paint is so faded that the markings are no longer clear. And some parking spots are so small that a regular sized vehicle cannot safely navigate into and out of them.
Parking lot accident cases are often very complicated, and it can be difficult for those who are injured to obtain compensation. Many times, there are multiple parties involved, and more than one party might share some of the blame. Insurance companies do not make things any easier. When you file an injury claim with an insurer, they will do anything they can to diminish the value of your claim or deny it altogether.
If the injury took place at a parking lot or garage in Pennsylvania, the state’s modified comparative negligence laws would apply. This means that your damage award would be reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault you share in the accident, and if you are more than 50% at fault, you would not be able to receive any compensation at all.
You can be sure that the other side will look for ways to pin at least some of the blame for the accident on you, and this is one of many reasons it is very important to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after the accident. With strong legal counsel in your corner, you will maximize your chances of recovering full and fair compensation for your injuries.
Contact the Seasoned Personal Injury Lawyers at Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.
If you or someone close to you was injured or killed in a parking lot accident in Pennsylvania, call Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C. today at 412-567-1232 or toll-free at 866-466-5789 or message us online to schedule a free consultation. We will meet with you to thoroughly assess your case and advise you of your legal rights and options.