Even though we tend to think of parking lots as generally safe, parking lots can be dangerous. In fact, CBS News reports that as many as 20 percent of car accidents happen in parking lots. Parking lot accidents occur because there are not clear lanes of travel or adequate signage to direct the flow of traffic.
This can make determining liability for a parking lot accident quite difficult. For those who have been in a collision in a parking lot, it’s essential to work with an experienced Clearwater car accident attorney to determine fault and build a claim for compensation. Here’s how to tell who’s liable for a parking lot car accident in Clearwater, Florida.
Ways Accidents Occur in Florida Parking Lots
An accident can occur in a Florida parking lot in many different ways. A parking lot doesn’t have the same directions for vehicular travel that a public road might have.
Also, in a parking lot, people travel in vehicles and on foot. Poor lighting, tight spaces, and miscommunications can all cause parking lot accidents. Here are just some of the ways that a parking lot car accident can occur:
• A driver backs out of a parking space and into a vehicle traveling past
• Two drivers back out of their respective parking spaces at the same time and collide
• Someone opens a vehicle door as another driver enters the parking space next to them
• A driver backing out of a parking space doesn’t see a pedestrian walking behind them
• A driver travels at a high rate of speed and can’t stop for a pedestrian walking through the parking lot
• Two drivers race for the same parking spot
• Confusion causes a driver to travel in the wrong direction
• A pedestrian walks across a lane of travel without looking to make sure the coast is clear
How to Tell Who’s Liable for a Parking Lot Accident
Florida’s rules of negligence apply to determine who’s liable for a parking lot car accident in Clearwater. Negligence means who could have been more careful to avoid the collision. Florida law says that it’s most fair to assign blame to the person who was in a position to prevent the accident if only they had acted differently.
To determine fault, you evaluate the actions of each party to decide who acted negligently in a way that brought about the crash. The person responsible might be the driver, a pedestrian or both. Here are things to consider when you think about whose actions resulted in the accident:
• Did either party violate a traffic law like reckless driving or drunk driving?
• Was either side backing out while there were cars or people in the way?
• Is either party responsible for speeding?
• Are there any pedestrians that ran in front of moving traffic?
• Did anyone drive against the posted traffic rules for the parking lot?
• Should anyone involved have taken more time to look at their surroundings before proceeding through the parking lot?
• Did anyone cause intentional harm?
Don’t Florida’s No-Fault Rules Mean No One’s at Fault?
Florida is a no-fault state. That means that for accidents with only minor personal injuries, everyone should have their own insurance to cover damages. However, that’s not necessarily the end of the story.
Parking lot accidents often cause serious injuries. When a victim suffers severe or permanent injuries in a parking lot accident, they may bring a car accident claim against the responsible person directly or to their insurance to fully recover for a wide range of damages.
In addition to cases that fall outside of Florida’ no-fault system, in cases of intentional harm like road rage, you may be able to bring an action against the responsible party even if your injuries are minor.
Making the Necessary Reports
Even if an accident occurs in a parking lot, you must report it to the police in almost all cases. When anyone involved in the crash shows even a hint of an injury or when the apparent damage is $500 or more, you must report the collision. You should always err on the side of making a report to the police.
The police might not respond to investigate a parking lot crash. If they come to the scene, they might investigate but decline to complete a police report. When they don’t complete a police report, you may need to file your own statement. You must always exchange contact information with the other party involved in the crash.
Proving Your Case
When the police don’t investigate the accident, it’s up to you to gather the evidence that you need to show who’s liable. Take photos of the damage to your vehicle and any other vehicles involved. If it’s possible, take pictures before moving your vehicle from the point of impact.
In addition to taking photos to document damage, gather contact information for the other party as well as witnesses. The parking lot owner may have video surveillance of the area that can show how your crash occurred. It’s important to ask them to save any video that they have as quickly as possible.
More Than One Person Can Be at Fault
Remember that more than one person can share liability for the crash. Florida uses a system of comparative fault. That means it’s possible for more than one person to share legal responsibility for a parking lot accident.
If both parties could have been more careful to prevent the accident, liability may be shared. Shared liability can impact the rights and obligations of each person after the crash. Also, there are some cases where the parking lot owner may be liable for failing to maintain or operate their parking lot in a safe manner.
How our Clearwater Car Accident Attorneys Can Help
If you’re in a parking lot car accident in Clearwater, Florida, the experts at Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys can help you determine who’s liable for your accident. We can work with you to preserve and build the evidence.
Our team can evaluate your case to determine your best options for receiving fair compensation for your losses. Jack Bernstein and his team of qualified attorneys have the experience and resources to handle your case with skill and determination.