Who Is Responsible For Car Accidents In A Parking Lot Or Garage?

Parking lots and large garages can be difficult for drivers to navigate. Accidents happen frequently, particularly during the winter when the ground is slick and the lots are crowded with seasonal shoppers.

Because cars are often cutting through the lot irregularly and moving in different directions, it's easy to get confused about the rules. This can make it exceptionally difficult to figure out who is responsible when an accident does occur. Here's what you need to know if you've been in a wreck.

How Is Liability for an Accident Determined?

There are three main questions that need to be asked in order to determine who has liability for accidents in a parking lot or garage:

  1. Which cars were in motion? Generally speaking, if only one car was moving at the time of the wreck, that's the driver who is at fault for any collision.
  2. Was either car clearly disobeying the law? If one car was speeding or had turned the wrong way down a parking lane, that driver is likely to be at fault.
  3. Which driver had the right-of-way? Finally, each lot or garage has a specific flow of traffic. The driver who violated these norms is liable for a wreck.

Answering these questions can be difficult, which is why it's smart to get as much evidence as you can at the scene, including photos of the cars and witness statements. That could be important to prove who was liable if the issue goes to court.

What Are the Common Causes of Accidents in Parking Lots or Garages?

Some types of car accidents happen fairly frequently in parking lots and garages. Here are some that you might encounter and what it means:

  1. A driver backs out of a parking space and right into your oncoming car. Since the driver of the parked car has an obligation to yield to moving vehicles in the lanes before backing out, he or she would be at fault.
  2. You collide with another driver who was trying to "rush" an open space before you could get it even though you had signaled your intention to turn. The other driver would likely be responsible if he or she turned into your car.

Keep in mind that the other insurance company will often try to pin the liability for an accident on you -- especially if you are injured. They work hard to avoid a big payout. To protect your interests after an accident or to learn more, talk to an auto accident lawyer.