Parking Lot Accidents
Low-speed collisions are common in parking lots, because traffic is moving in many directions, and cars backing out of spaces may be unable to see approaching cars. Usually, these crashes cause minor vehicle damage. But occasionally, they can inflict serious or fatal injuries, especially when they involve a pedestrian.
Parking lots, by design, aren’t the easiest environments for pedestrians to navigate. While spaces for cars are clearly defined, few parking lots have designated walking areas for pedestrians. Even when crosswalks are present, drivers often disregard them – or in some cases, speed up as they approach them, so they don’t have to wait for pedestrians to cross in front of them.
In an environment where people and moving vehicles are in such close proximity, drivers should exercise caution, but many don’t. Reckless and inattentive drivers are a serious threat to other motorists and pedestrians in parking lots, especially small children and people with limited mobility. That threat is enhanced by weather conditions that impair visibility or make pavement slick.
If you’ve suffered an injury in a Pennsylvania or New Jersey parking lot accident, we may be able to help you. Our legal team can review the facts of a parking lot accident to determine whether another driver or the parking lot’s owner or operator bears some liability for the crash. Call Wapner Newman today for a no-obligation consultation at (800) 529-6200.
The Dangers of Blind Spots
In April 2015, a tragic accident occurred in South Philadelphia, when one Philadelphia Parking Authority employee backed his tow truck into another worker standing in the parking lot, fatally injuring him. The driver didn’t see the other man because of his vehicle’s blind spot.
According to Consumer Reports, a mid-size sedan has a blind spot that extends backward about 13 feet, if the driver is about 5’8”; for a driver who is 5’1”, the blind spot would extend about 22 feet. In a pickup truck, the shorter driver’s blind spot would be 35 feet.
In examining the causes of pedestrian crashes, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration looks at a class of accidents considered to be “nontraffic crashes” – that includes accidents involving cars moving in reverse in parking lots, driveways, and areas that are not public roads. In all non-public areas, cars moving backward killed 926 people and injured 52,000 people between 2008 and 2011.
Pedestrians may not realize they may be more or less invisible to drivers who are backing up. Small children could be particularly at risk of being injured by cars backing out of parking spaces, because they’re harder to see and they might dart behind a vehicle without realizing it’s moving.
Speed as a Factor in Parking Lot Accidents
Pedestrians may have an expectation that drivers are moving slowly through parking lots. But when there are no speed bumps or stop signs to control traffic, some drivers pay little attention to how fast they’re traveling.
Speeding drivers may not be able to brake quickly enough to avoid a pedestrian or driver who crosses their path. And pedestrians may also misjudge the speed at which a car is approaching and incorrectly assume they can cross a lane safely in front of a car. Pedestrians with poor eyesight may be unable to judge whether they can safely cross a lane, and if they also have hearing loss, they might not hear a car horn in time to move to safety.
Even when drivers exercise caution, there are plenty of points in a parking lot where visibility is problematic. Whether in reverse or driving forward, a driver moving from a parking spot may have difficulty seeing around other parked vehicles and pull into the path of a moving car. If an approaching car is traveling at a reasonable speed, the driver might be able to stop in time to avoid a car that’s moving out of a parking space. A speeding car, however, will likely hit the other driver.
Philadelphia accidents that occur in parking lots can result in a surprising amount of damage in a matter of moments. In one of the most notable parking lot crashes in recent memory, a driver in Wisconsin crashed into nine cars in a parking lot in less than one minute, after his foot got stuck on the accelerator. Although no one was injured, that crash demonstrates that cars can move swiftly and unpredictably, endangering anyone in their path.
Snow, ice, and rain can create hazardous conditions in parking lots. Vehicles may lose control when turning on slippery surfaces or attempting to stop, and pedestrians worried about losing their footing may be moving slowly and watching the ground instead of looking for approaching cars.
Astute business owners or property managers make an effort to clear parking lots of snow and ice, as well as keep them in good repair. Even so, snowplows may inadvertently make visibility worse by piling large mounds of snow in areas where lanes intersect.
Help for the Injured: Contact An Experienced Parking Lot Accident Lawyer
While there are a number of factors that could lead to a parking lot accident, driver error is one of the most prevalent causes. If a driver caused a crash that injured you or a family member, we can help you understand what options you may have. Fill out our online contact form, or call us today to find out if you have a case: (800) 529-6200.