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When you’re driving through a parking lot, it’s easy to let your guard down. You know you need to watch out for pedestrians and vehicles backing up out of parking spaces, but otherwise, a crash may be the last thing on your mind.
The National Safety Council says that “tens of thousands of crashes occur in parking lots and garage structures annually, resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries.” The next time you’re driving in a parking lot, keep that fact in mind and be extra cautious.
And if you are involved in a crash, here’s what to know about parking lot accident claims.
Most parking lots are considered private property. That means that while there may be speed limit signs and stop signs, traffic laws typically aren’t enforced by police officers. However, if someone is driving dangerously and causes a crash, they can be held liable for other people’s damages if it can be proven that their reckless behavior caused the accident.
Although they’re private property, parking lot accidents should still be reported to the police. That’s because accident reports need to be completed after parking lot crashes in order to prove who was at fault. And when parking lot crashes cause injuries, someone should always dial 911 to dispatch emergency responders to the scene.
Because parking lots are on private property, at-fault drivers may not be issued citations. For example, if the at-fault driver failed to stop at a stop sign or was exceeding the posted speed limit, that violation may not be valid in court as the stop sign or speed limit was posted and set by the parking lot owner and not the local government.
Insurance companies may use that fact to argue that their clients weren’t at fault for the crashes and therefore they shouldn’t have to pay any damages that result. They also may argue that victims weren’t paying attention to where they were going or were somehow at fault for the crashes themselves.
Parking lots being considered private property instead of actual public roads creates another opportunity for victims to get compensation, and that’s through filing claims against the owners of the parking lots. People and parties who own private property are responsible for keeping them safe for guests, and when they fail to do so, they can be held liable.
In the case of parking lot crashes, owners may be held liable if they fail to provide adequate lighting, fail to clearly designate parking spaces and traffic directions, fail to post speed limits, stop signs, or speed humps, and more.
One advantage that parking lot accident victims have over victims who get hurt on public roads is that their crashes are often recorded on surveillance or security cameras. Many parking lots have cameras, and business storefronts often have them pointed towards their parking lots. That means that it’s easier to tell exactly what happened in the moments leading up to a crash.
But because parking lot traffic rules are often unenforced, injured victims may still face uphill battles for getting compensation—even when security camera footage clearly shows they didn’t cause their crashes. That’s why it’s important for parking lot accident victims to contact experienced lawyers right away.
Although parking lot crashes are very similar to crashes that happen on public roads, there are enough key differences to make them frustrating for victims. Insurance companies know they have more leeway to deny victims fair compensation, and the lack of enforceable traffic laws can make proving negligence more difficult.
At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, our Ohio car accident lawyers have many years of experience handling all types of crash claims, including those that occur on private property and in parking lots. If you or someone you love was hurt in a parking lot crash, don’t wait to get the legal representation you need. Contact us today for a free consultation.
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