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Who's Liable in a Parking Lot Accident?

If you’re like most people, you walk in parking lots weekly, if not every day. After all, just about every time we get out of our cars, we’re walking in a parking lot, whether it’s at Walmart, Hannaford Supermarket, Mohawk Grocery & Deli, or Price Chopper. Perhaps you go to the gym five or six days a week. In that case, you may hit Best Fitness, Orangetheory Fitness, Planet Fitness, Vent Fitness, or CrossFit on most days of the week. Then there’s work – lots of us park in a parking lot and then walk to our office building.

Our point is, the average person is a pedestrian or driver in some sort of parking lot on a daily basis, even if it’s just when they’re hitting the post office or walking their kid to school. As personal injury attorneys, we can’t help but see parking lots as potential injury zones, where just about anybody can be struck by someone’s vehicle in a parking lot. The question is, who’s at fault in a parking lot accident? The driver or the property owner?

Legal Liability for Parking Lot Accidents

The good news about parking lot accidents is that “usually” cars are going pretty slow, but that’s not always the case. We’ve all seen someone race through a parking lot at dangerously high speeds. Even though most parking lot accidents are minor, they can still be deadly in the worst cases.

Generally, liability has to do with the rules of the road. This means the drivers in the through lanes have the right of way. There’s also the issue of drivers who collide while parking or backing out of parking spots. In these cases, it comes down to the theory of negligence. All drivers are expected to be careful when parking and backing out of parking spots and if they’re not careful, they can be found negligent and therefore liable.

If a driver strikes a pedestrian, usually the first place we’d look for compensation is the driver’s insurance policy. However, if the property owner’s negligence somehow was to blame for the accident and a dangerous condition existed, we may file a claim against the property owner instead.

Liability comes down to the rules of the road and negligence. Was the driver careless? Was the property owner negligent? These are the types of questions that would need answers before determining liability.