A common misconception about parking lot accidents is that they do not result in significant financial and physical damage. Realistically, victims of negligent drivers seek the guidance of parking lot accident lawyers every day in California, and often these cases have a clear at-fault party. Therefore, if you suffered an injury in a parking lot accident caused by a careless driver, consider how an experienced attorney can help and what avenues to compensation are available.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Parking Lot Car Accidents?
Parking lot accidents are often the result of drivers and pedestrians not understanding the rules of right-of-way. However, another common issue is the assumption that drivers do not need to be as alert in a parking lot as they are on the road. This thought process commonly leads to distracted driving, a dangerous hazard in parking lots.
For example, because vehicles travel at low speeds in parking lots, people assume they can check their phones, answer emails and rummage through bags without fear of crashing. As a result, they could hit another vehicle or a pedestrian, causing severe damage or injuries even at low impact. They could then be liable for substantial losses, significantly impacting them financially. To better understand how liability may affect your case, consider the right-of-way and pedestrian parking lot etiquette rules.
Right-of-Way Rules for Parking Lots
In California, the general rule is that the driver in the flow of traffic nearly always has the right of way. However, consider the specifics of this rule based on position in the parking lot:
- Drivers in the main lane, which is the path that goes around the parking lot's perimeter, must pause for people entering the main lane from the road.
- Drivers in the feeder lanes, the internal lanes with parking spaces, must pause for drivers in the main lane.
- Drivers backing out of parking spaces must pause for cars going down the feeder lanes.
Anyone who violates the rules of right-of-way, causing an accident, would be liable for the resulting damages.
Rules for Pedestrians in Parking Lots
Pedestrians must follow the walking paths of a parking lot and look out for cars before crossing the main lane. In busy areas with multiple businesses, parking lots typically have crosswalk areas. When someone crosses outside the crosswalk area, they could be partially liable for the accident. However, drivers are also responsible for looking out for pedestrians in parking lots.
Can You Recover Damages for a Parking Lot Accident?
California is a no-fault state, meaning the person responsible for an auto accident is also financially liable for the resulting losses. If you suffer an injury, either in your car or as a pedestrian, you can file a claim with the driver's insurance or file a lawsuit against them in civil court. Some damages you can claim include the following:
- The cost of your necessary medical care, including emergency medical services, hospital stays, outpatient treatment, medications, rehabilitative care, surgeries and medical devices
- The total lost wages from missing work opportunities and loss of earning potential or capacity
- The cost of repairing any property damaged during the accident
- The physical pain and suffering you endured from your injuries and your medical care
- The emotional distress, such as anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress, suffered because of the accident
The economic losses, such as medical expenses and damaged property, have absolute value based on receipts and bills. However, the non-economic damages, such as emotional distress and pain and suffering, require calculating a reasonable value to represent those losses. This is just one way a parking lot accident lawyer is beneficial.
How Can a Parking Lot Accident Lawyer Help Build Your Claim?
Filing a claim for a parking lot accident case is not always straightforward. Insurance companies have a reputation for protecting their interests over the claimant and are sometimes combative in that effort. When you hire a parking lot accident lawyer to handle your case, they take over all conversations with the insurance company so you can focus on your health without the added frustration. Consider some other ways they contribute to your claim:
- Negotiating with the insurer to reach a fast and fair settlement
- Investigating your claim to find the necessary evidence to prove negligence
- Identifying your losses and valuing your non-economic damages
- Completing all the paperwork to file your claim or lawsuit and submitting it
- Providing friendly, compassionate support
A common concern for people in need of legal representation is the cost. However, parking lot accident attorneys work in personal injury law. They see clients who suffer from financial struggles daily because of another person's negligence or malicious intention. They also believe in your right to competent legal representation.
To ensure you have the help you need to get your life back, most personal injury lawyers do not charge upfront fees for their services. Instead, they work on contingency, meaning their pay is contingent upon their ability to secure a settlement or award for you. So ultimately, you have nothing to lose from contacting an attorney to discuss the details of your case and form an action plan for recovering the compensation you deserve.
Can You Still Recover Damages if You Are Partially Liable for the Accident?
Another misconception about parking lot accident cases and auto accidents, in general, is that you cannot recover damages if you are partially responsible for the accident. Every state has a law they apply to cases of shared fault that regulates how to distribute compensation for someone who is partially liable. For example, California abides by the pure comparative negligence rule. Under this concept, the court will review the details of your accident and determine a percentage of fault for each party, which will total 100% in sum. Then, they will deduct an amount equal to your portion of the blame from the total value of your losses.
For example, suppose you put your car in reverse to leave a parking space but did not check the mirror because the lot was practically empty. As you backed up with the presumption that no one was behind you, a car came speeding down the feeder lane and hit you. In this case, you would both likely be responsible. However, if the court valued your damages at $10,000 and determined you were 50% liable, you would still receive $5,000 in total damages. Additionally, because California uses the pure version of comparative negligence rather than the modified version, you can be as much as 99% liable and still recover 1% of your damages.
When Can You Schedule a Consultation With a Parking Lot Accident Lawyer?
Did you recently suffer an injury in a parking lot collision caused by a negligent driver? If yes, a California parking lot accident lawyer could help you file your claim seeking compensation for your losses. At Johnson Attorneys Group, we help victims of careless drivers get the justice they deserve and the financial compensation they need to rebuild the status quo taken from them. In addition, our personal approach to relationships with our clients means you will always have access to your team and can rest easy knowing your best interests are our top priority. Contact Johnson Attorneys Group at (800) 208-3538 to schedule your free case evaluation and speak with an experienced parking lot accident attorney today.