Car accident in the parking lot.

Parking Lot Accidents: Who’s at Fault?

Wilson Law Firm PLLC May 10, 2022

From highways and busy roads to intersections and side streets, car accidents happen every single day. However, many car accidents also take place in parking garages and parking lots. The upside to being involved in a parking lot accident is that cars driven in parking lots are at relatively slow speeds. Even though this does not negate the opportunity for significant injury or damages, the slow speeds of the automobiles typically result in just a minor bumper-to-bumper fender bender. On the other hand, parking lot crashes can be complex and difficult to determine who has the right of way and who was at fault. 

Right of Way Rules

Parking Lots

Parking lots offer multiple opportunities for accidents. In many instances, parking lots don’t have clearly marked lines or signs indicating the right of way. Drivers may need to make subjective driving decisions rather than follow clear traffic signals. To prevent a parking lot accident, abide by some general right of way rules:

  • Drivers traveling up and down the lanes of the parking lot have the right of way over drivers pulling out of parking spaces. Drivers pulling out of spaces must yield to the drivers who are already in traffic. If a vehicle comes to a stop and signals that it wants your space, you may pull out of the space while the other vehicle blocks the oncoming traffic. Always carefully check the other lanes before driving forward.

  • Under most circumstances, pedestrians have right of way in parking lots. Do not pull out in front of a pedestrian or attempt to force a pedestrian out of the way so that your vehicle can move. Conversely, pedestrians shouldn’t attempt to walk in front of a moving vehicle and should take special care when walking behind vehicles moving in reverse in a parking lot.

  • In most cases, if two cars reach an intersection or parking space simultaneously, the first car to arrive at that space has right of way.

Parking Spots

People can become unexpectedly vicious when it comes to parking spaces, especially in times of heavy traffic or when pursuing a spot in a prime location. In these situations, two vehicles may end up in a conflict over one parking space.

Who Has the Right of Way?

In general, the driver that comes to a parking space first has the right of way. A driver traveling the wrong way down a one-way lane does not have the right of way for a parking space. If traffic is allowed to travel in both directions in the lane, and if the driver is able to safely navigate into a space, the driver who arrives at the space first should have the right of way to that space.

Parking space conflicts can escalate and result in an accident that causes significant property damage or physical injuries. When that happens, you will need a parking lot accident attorney to help with your case.

Remember, it's always best to play it safe. If another vehicle goes after a parking space, even if you consider it “your space,” you may be better served to back up and allow that vehicle to have the space, even if it causes you some level of inconvenience. 

Who’s at Fault?

Determining fault in a parking lot accident can be tricky. Typically there are three possibilities where fault can be placed:

  1. One or both drivers

  2. A pedestrian

  3. The business or owner of the parking lot

In most parking lot accidents, fault is determined by evaluating who had the right of way. There are several ways to make this determination:

  1. Analyzing parking lot or nearby security cameras

  2. Checking tire marks that have been left behind

  3. Interviewing eyewitnesses 

  4. Looking at dash cam or personal video footage

Once fault is determined, the responsible driver can be held accountable for injuries and losses due to the crash. Parking lot accidents may lead to neck and back sprains, whiplash, concussions, or worse. The at-fault driver can be held responsible in a personal injury claim and can be required to pay compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost time from work, and more. 

A Car Accident Attorney Can Help

No one wants to file a lawsuit. Car accidents happen without warning, and if you are not careful, you could end up paying for someone else’s negligence. 

Regardless of what caused the accident or whether you were a driver or pedestrian, even a minor accident can have a significant impact on your health, finances, and property. Don’t put your rights in question by trying to figure things out on your own. You deserve better. 

If you or someone you know has been in a parking lot accident in Shawnee, Oklahoma, contact me, Attorney Greg Wilson, at the Wilson Law Firm PLLC and put a trusted personal injury attorney on your side so you can avoid conflict and get a quick and fair resolution. 

I serve clients in Shawnee, Oklahoma, as well as surrounding areas of Chandler, Norman, and Okemah. Don’t wait – make the call today.