Most people don't think of parking lot accidents as being very dangerous. The general impression is that they may involve a fender bender and some expensive body damage repair, but generally, do not result in serious injury. However, every year hundreds of people are killed in nontraffic crashes, including in parking lots and parking structures. Tens of thousands more are injured in these types of accidents. After a parking lot accident, make sure you seek medical attention if there is any chance you may have suffered an injury.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle crashes that occur off the public traffic ways are classified as “nontraffic crashes.” This includes crashes in public parking lots, parking garages, and parking structures. These crashes can result in injury to vehicle drivers, passengers, as well as nonoccupants such as cyclists or pedestrians.
According to national statistics, over 6,400 people were killed in nontraffic motor vehicle crashes between 2008 and 2011. Almost 40 percent of those killed were pedestrians or cyclists. An average of 92,000 people were injured in these accidents each year between 2012 and 2014.
Causes of Parking Lot Accidents
Parking lots can be dangerous places to drive. The spaces are narrow, drivers cannot see very well because of cars blocking them on either side, pedestrians can appear out of nowhere, and other drivers continue to speed through busy parking lots. All of these factors make it important for drivers to be extra vigilant while driving in parking lots. Even if a driver is doing everything right, other drivers may cause an accident, resulting in serious injury.
Some of the most common causes of parking lot accidents are driver inattention. Drivers may not be looking both ways and watching for cars and pedestrians. They may be pulling out of a space too quickly instead of backing out slowly to make sure no one is coming. Other drivers may be busy talking on the phone, chatting with their passengers, texting, checking their email, or mapping out their next destination. This kind of distracted driving is responsible for many parking lot accident.
In 2014, most nontraffic accidents that fatally killed pedestrians or cyclists involved forward-moving vehicles. This generally means the driver had the victim in their sights before striking them. The drivers may not have been paying attention, did not give the pedestrian adequate passing room, or were driving too fast to stop. Almost 1/3rd of these fatal accidents involved a backing vehicle, often while backing out of a parking space. Rollaway vehicles have also resulted in nontraffic fatalities.
For accidents that cause injury to vehicle occupants, over 70% of injuries involved single-vehicle accidents. This may occur when the driver runs into a fixed object, such as a wall or light pole. In some cases, these accidents occur when the driver puts the vehicle into the wrong gear and drives forward instead of reverses.
In 2014, almost 70,000 vehicle occupants were injured in multi-vehicle accidents in non-traffic crashes. Many of these occur in parking lots where multiple vehicles are traveling through an enclosed space. This could be a car striking another vehicle while backing out, two cars hitting each other while backing out, or drivers not yielding the right of way in a busy parking lot. In multi-vehicle accidents, the drivers may each blame the other for the accident.
Parking Lot Accident Injuries
Even a slow speed parking lot accident can result in neck or back injury to a driver or passenger. At the time of the accident, they may brush off their injury thinking it is not so serious. However, days later they may realize the injury more serious than they first thought. If you think there is any chance of an injury after an accident, seek medical attention. Early treatment may reduce the risk of serious injury.
Parking lot accidents are more dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists than they usually are for vehicle occupants. Vehicle occupants are protected by the vehicle body, seat belts, and airbags. Pedestrians have no real protection when struck by a vehicle, even at a low speed. Many pedestrian or cycling injuries in a parking lot result in neck or back injury, head or facial trauma, abrasions, and broken bones. Pedestrian accidents in parking lots can be fatal, especially when the victim is a child.
Parking Lot Accident Attorneys
If you or a loved one has been injured in a parking lot accident, the law firm of Gilman & Bedigian may be able to help. It takes time to recover from a parking lot neck or back injury, and you should not have to deal with the stress of fighting with the insurance company. This is why you should talk to a lawyer about taking on your case so you can focus on recovery. Our attorneys have years of experience dealing with automobile accident cases throughout the D.C. Metro Area. We will fight for your rights to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.