When most people think about the hazards of holiday driving, they focus on traffic jams and drunk driving. While crashes on roadways do increase around the holidays, don’t overlook another dangerous area of holiday driving: parking lots. Research shows that there are tens of thousands of parking lot crashes each year, resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries. These crashes tend to spike during the week of Thanksgiving, due to all the Black Friday shopping madness.
Parking lots aren’t known for high speeds, and many people don’t believe it’s necessary to file a car accident claim for a “minor crash.” Unfortunately, even low-speed crashes can cause serious injuries to your head, neck, and spine. If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries in a parking lot collision, the at-fault driver and others may owe you compensation.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at parking lot accidents and who is to blame for your Black Friday parking lot crash.
Parking Lot Crashes Spike Around Thanksgiving
Parking lot crashes are more common than you think. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), parking lot and other non-traffic collisions cause more than 50,000 injuries and 900 fatalities each year. Many of these crashes occur during the busy holiday shopping season.
“Sometimes, parking lots are poorly designed or maintained, and these defects can contribute to a crash.”
A recent study compared the rate of auto insurance claims filed the week of Thanksgiving to the weeks before and after. Five years’ worth of data resulted in the following conclusions:
- Thanksgiving night had 20% more claims than average.
- Black Friday had 34% more claims.
- On both days, backing up and parking-related claims were the most commonly filed.
The evidence is clear, although traveling during the Thanksgiving holiday is dangerous, holiday shopping is a hazard all on its own.
Common Parking Lot Collision Scenarios
Exiting a Parking Space
Parking lot crashes often involve someone pulling out of a parking spot. Inattention is a likely factor in these types of crashes, as drivers fail to notice other vehicles or pedestrians before they exit the parking space. The National Safety Council reports that over 50% of drivers nationwide admit to texting, sending emails, using social media, taking pictures, and even watching videos while driving in a parking lot.
Cutting Through the Lot
We’ve all seen drivers cut across rows of parking spaces, beelining it to an exit. However, ignoring traffic lanes and other road markings can cause a crash. Other drivers and pedestrians don’t expect to see a vehicle coming at them from those directions and may be unable to react in time to avoid a crash.
Running Stop Signs
Parking lots often include stop signs that allow pedestrians to cross to and from the store and direct vehicle traffic in and out of the lots. Failing to stop as directed can easily cause a collision.
Who is to Blame in Parking Lot Crashes?
For parking lot crashes, fault may fall on several different parties: drivers, parking lot owners, and pedestrians. However, your specific claims will depend on the circumstances surrounding your claim.
The Driver: Understanding Parking Lot Right of Way Rules
Just like roads, parking lots have rules that dictate when drivers must yield to other vehicles or pedestrians. Unfortunately, many people do not know who has the right of way in parking lots.
There are two main types of lanes in a parking lot. First, are the through lanes, which typically circle the lot, pass by the front of the store, and connect to the main roads. Second, we have the feeder lanes, which lead to the individual parking spots, beginning and ending at the through lanes. According to Texas’ parking lot right of way rules:
- While exiting a feeder lane, you must yield to anyone, driver or pedestrian, in a through lane.
- If you’re backing or pulling out of parking space, you must yield to anyone already moving in a feeder lane.
- Before making a turn, you must yield to anyone moving straight.
- You must always halt at stop or yield signs, regardless of other right of way rules.
Drivers who fail to follow these rules and cause a crash are typically responsible for the victims’ damages.
The Property Owner: Understanding the Factors in a Crash
Although most crash victims focus on the other driver after a parking lot crash, the owner of the lot may also be to blame. Sometimes, parking lots are poorly designed or maintained, and these defects can contribute to a crash.
For example, suppose you are driving in a parking lot feeder lane. You start to turn into a through lane, but your view is obstructed by wildly overgrown landscaping. You inch forward, looking for oncoming traffic, but don’t see a car until it’s too late. In this case, the property company’s failure to maintain the trees and bushes may result in liability.
Importantly, your claims will be with the company that owns and maintains the parking lot, not necessarily the retail store owner or its parent company. Your lawyer can help you identify who owns and maintains the parking lot and educate you about your legal options.
Pedestrians: Understanding Your Duty of Care
It’s important to understand that not only drivers and property owners owe us all a duty of care—pedestrians do too. That means that when you’re walking through a parking lot, you need to keep a proper lookout and stay aware of your surroundings.
The reality is that it’s hard to win claims involving pedestrian-car crashes in parking lots. Too many times, the pedestrian is distracted or ignores obvious signs that a vehicle is backing up. Unfortunately, a pedestrian’s negligence can reduce or eliminate their compensation.
What Should I Do After a Black Friday Parking Lot Crash?
If you’re involved in a Black Friday parking lot collision, it’s in your best interest to treat it like any other crash. In other words, if a car was damaged or someone was injured, call 911 and file an accident report with the police. If you or someone you loved need medical attention, immediately go to the ER or a medical clinic.
If the other driver encourages you to ignore the crash or offers to pay for your damages out-of-pocket, politely decline their offer. A police report will serve as essential evidence if you need to file an injury or property damage claim later on.
Finally, it’s best to consult with an injury lawyer before you contact the insurance company. Parking lot claims are notoriously complex, and negligent parties often try to shift blame to innocent victims. A Crosley Law injury attorney can help you combat these tactics and fight for your fair compensation.
Stay Alert This Holiday Season, And Call Crosley Law If You’ve Been in A Crash
Do you have plans to go Black Friday shopping this year? You’re not alone. While online Black Friday deals are popular, millions of people will hit the stores in search of bargains and holiday gifts.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a parking lot crash, call Crosley Law. Our experienced car accident attorneys will review your case and determine your rights and options. Contact us online by completing this brief online contact form or calling 210-LAW-3000 | 210-529-3000.
Baird, N. (November 28, 2018). Every result you need to know from Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the holiday 2018 season so far. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/nikkibaird/2018/11/28/every-result-you-need-to-know-about-black-friday-cyber-monday-and-holiday-2018-so-far/#702640ec4eb5
New data from Progressive Insurance shows spike in Thanksgiving week wrecks. (November 23, 2015). Progressive. Retrieved from https://progressive.mediaroom.com/2015-11-23-New-Data-from-Progressive-R-Insurance-Shows-Spike-in-Thanksgiving-Week-Wrecks
Not-in-traffic surveillance: Fatality and injury statistics in nontraffic crashes, 2008 to 2011. (2013, April). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/811813
‘Tis the season for parking lot injuries. (March 2018). National Safety Council. Retrieved from https://www.nsc.org/road-safety/safety-topics/distracted-driving/parking-lot-safety
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.