Who Is Responsible For A Parking Lot Accident?

Many stores and shopping centers are especially busy during the holiday season. Oftentimes, this means that there are more parking lot accidents during this time of year. While the good news is that motorists are typically driving slower in parking lots and cause less severe crashes and injuries, the not-so-good news is that determining fault can be difficult in these instances.

Common Parking Lot Accident Scenarios

Accidents in parking lots happen all the time. While most do not result in serious injuries, that’s not to say that it can’t happen. Whiplash and neck injuries are some of the most common injuries sustained in parking lot accidents between two vehicles.

Pedestrians, especially small and young children, are also at an increased risk of sustaining more serious injuries when hit by cars in parking lots, as they lack physical protection around them.

Some of the most common parking lot accident scenarios include:

  • Two vehicles backing into each other when exiting parking spaces
  • A driver backing into an oncoming vehicle
  • A driver pulling forward into oncoming traffic
  • Two vehicles vying for the same parking spot and colliding together

Why Right of Way Rules Matter

Fault determinations are important for drivers who are injured and sustain other damages in parking lot accidents. Ultimately, determining who is liable comes down to which driver had the right-of-way in the parking lot.

As a general rule, the motorist in the through lanes have the right-of-way, meaning that cars attempting to either back out of spaces or merge into the lane must yield to those vehicles. An exception to this rule would be, for instance, if a driver in the through lane failed to obey “STOP” or “YIELD” signage.

In the case of two drivers pulling out at the same time and colliding, determining fault can be difficult because both drivers had a responsibility to keep a proper lookout and take reasonable care to allow other cars to pass. In these cases, fault may be determined to be shared.

Lastly, it’s important to remember that pedestrians (and bicyclists) will alwayshave the right-of-way and drivers must yield to them at all times. In almost every injury case involving pedestrians and vehicles, the car driver will be found to be at fault.

How You Can Stay Safe

Fortunately, there are steps that all drivers and shoppers can take to reduce the risk of injuries sustained in parking lots:

  • Reduce your speed
  • Adjust your mirrors before pulling out
  • Turn your whole body to look behind you before pulling out
  • Use turn signals to indicate your intentions
  • Before turning, look multiple times for other cars, pedestrians, children, and shopping carts
  • Obey all parking lot signage

If you need help pursuing an injury claim in Mississippi, turn to Chatham Gilder Howell Pittman for dedicated attorneys on your side. Contact our firm at (662) 222-0597 to learn more about your legal options during a free initial consultation.

About the Author
Jefferson D. Gilder is a Partner at Chatham Gilder Howell Pittman and was admitted to the Mississippi and Tennessee Bars in 1990. Mr. Gilder is admitted to practice in all courts in Mississippi and Tennessee including Federal Court, the Fifth and Sixth Circuit Courts of Appeal, and the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Gilder's areas of practice include personal injury, criminal, medical malpractice, civil rights, and product liability. Mr. Gilder spent his first ten years as an attorney practicing with his father, Robert G. Gilder, at Gilder Law Firm in Southaven, Mississippi before forming Gilder, Howell & Assoc., P.A. with Jamie W. Howell, Jr. in June of 2000. This firm although as another legal entity has now combined their resources and experience with Chatham – Pittman, to form Chatham Gilder Howell Pittman. If you have any questions about this article, you can reach Jefferson through our contact page.