With more and more people getting back to shopping malls and grocery stores, it is more important than ever to be careful in parking lots – especially if you are a pedestrian. Many of us tend to assume that parking lots are safer because of the lower speeds, but people die in preventable parking lot accidents every year. Parking lots can be chaotic and confusing areas, particularly when drivers are distracted and on their cellphones.
Whether at a shopping center, place of worship, office complex, or school, motorists have a duty of care to other drivers and pedestrians. When they disregard this duty, innocent people suffer harm. CBS News talked about the prevalence and dangers of parking lot accidents in this video.
President of the National Safety Council (NSC) Deborah Hersman told CBS, “It’s just as dangerous to be distracted in a parking lot going 5 mph as it is going 50 mph. People have their heads down, they’re on their phones whether they’re behind the wheel or whether they are pedestrians. There’s just a lot of inattention out there.”
Parking lots and distracted driving
Even with the low speed limits in parking areas and lots, they are still busy and bustling with activity. Pedestrians with shopping carts and strollers, drivers searching for parking spots, motorists backing in or out of spots – just one moment of distraction can result in a tragic car accident. The NSC reports that parking lot accidents tend to spike around the holidays, and many of these collisions are due to distracted driving.
In fact, in a nationwide survey, a startling number of drivers admit to engaging in unsafe and distracted driving behaviors in parking lots. These include:
- Making phone calls – 66%
- Programming their GPS – 63%
- Texting – 56%
- Using social media – 52%
- Sending or receiving emails – 50%
- Taking photos or watching videos – 49%
Many pedestrians and drivers suffer severe or fatal injuries while another vehicle is backing up or reversing.
What are backing-up accidents?
Parking lots and driveways are the most common places for backing-up accidents, as the majority of drivers reverse out of these spaces. Because these areas have no traffic signs or signals, drivers must use their own best judgement when reversing and ensure their path is completely clear of obstacles. Backover accidents from passenger vehicles cause 15,000 injuries and 210 deaths every year.
Backing-up and backover accidents can occur from driving distracted, pedal confusion, failing to check blind spots, or neglecting to change gear. When a driver is careless behind the wheel and does not take due care to check their surroundings, a day out can end in tragedy. Backing-up accidents are particularly dangerous to children. Kids and Cars, a United States consumer organization, provides some information:
- Approximately 50 children are backed over by a vehicle every week.
- The average age of victims of these accidents is between 12 and 23 months old.
- Over 60% of backing-up accidents involved a larger vehicle, like an SUV or truck.
- Over 70% of incidents involved a parent or relative behind the wheel.
The organization offers tips for every driver to follow, whether backing out of a driveway or parking spot, to perform their due diligence in keeping children, other motorists, and pedestrians safe:
- Perform a quick walk around your vehicle before backing out to ensure there are no children or pets.
- Roll down your window while backing up to ensure you hear any activity outside your vehicle.
- Be especially alert in parking lots when they’re crowded, during dusk, and after dark.
- Do not allow children to walk or run in parking lots unsupervised.
Although backup cameras have been mandatory safety features on U.S. vehicles since 2018, they are not a foolproof way to avoid these types of accidents. Not all reverse cameras have the same quality, and they still do not account for blind spots on the sides of the vehicle. Experts warn that backup and rearview cameras are to be used as an additional tool, and not a replacement for visually and physically checking around the vehicle.
What should I do if I’m injured in a parking lot accident?
If you or your child are hurt in a backing-up or parking lot accident, it is important to take a few steps to protect yourself.
- Call the authorities. You will likely need medical attention as well as a formal police report. In cases of severe injury, do not try to leave the scene unless your life is in danger (fire, fuel leak, etc.).
- Exchange information. Although this should be included in the police report, collect contact information from as many people as you can; most importantly, the other driver(s). If there are any witnesses, ask them as well, as you may need their statements later. Do not discuss any details of the incident.
- Record details of the scene. Use your phone or camera to photograph/video the scene of the accident. Include multiple angles of the vehicles, their positions, the overall scene, and your injuries. If there is nearby signage, capture that as well.
- Seek medical attention. If you were not treated at the scene, or even if you were, follow up with your doctor to evaluate your injuries. Documentation of your injuries is paramount to a successful personal injury case.
- Notify your insurance company. Even when the accident was not your fault, you need to notify your insurance company you were involved in a collision. However, you are not required to give a statement until you have consulted with an attorney.
An experienced car accident lawyer understands the often-complex liability issues involved with parking lot collisions. There may be multiple parties at fault, depending on the circumstances of the accident, like the conditions of the lot or other issues. Your attorney can launch an investigation and determine the factors that led to your injuries, and then work to secure compensation for your losses.
The Los Angeles attorneys at McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP want to help if you or a loved one suffered harm in a car accident. We have the experience and the resources to secure compensation for your losses, including medical expenses, property damage, and pain and suffering. We fight for your rights when someone’s carelessness causes you injury.
Please note that this blog is not to be construed as legal advice. Because every case is fact-specific, you should consult directly with an attorney to obtain legal advice specific to your situation.
For more than three decades, McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP has built a reputation as one of California’s leading law firms. Founded by a family of attorneys spanning three generations, John McNicholas and sons, Patrick and Matthew, have tried hundreds of cases to jury verdict on behalf of clients. Learn More about McNicholas & McNicholas