News & opinion Holiday Parking Lot Accidents & Safety 

Holiday Parking Lot Accidents & Safety 

Did you know approximately 20% of all car accidents occur in parking lots? When you think about it, there’s plenty to contend with in a parking lot: twists, turns, low visibility, crowds of distracted shoppers, and many moving vehicles. Whether they’re checking text messages or hunting for a coveted parking space, distracted drivers abound. The hectic holidays only add to the list of potential preoccupations. Stressed out shoppers are in a rush, and parking lot accidents become more and more frequent.

Below we’ve gathered some holiday accident facts and parking lot accident laws, plus tips for staying safe as you navigate a busy parking lot, whether you’re a pedestrian or a driver.

Unfortunately, parking lot accidents can be more than just a “door ding.” Common parking lot accidents include reversing into a perpendicular vehicle, reversing out of a space at the same time as another vehicle, and rear-ending someone at a stop sign or exit. If you’ve been involved in a car accident in a parking lot, you deserve professional help and guidance. Contact a car accident lawyer to get the compensation you’re truly entitled to.

Get the Facts: Parking Lot Accident Statistics

According to research from the National Safety Council, more than 50,000 parking lot accidents occur each year, resulting in over 60,000 injuries and 500 deaths.

Additionally, two thirds of drivers may be distracted when they’re pulling into shopping centers. In another poll conducted by the National Safety Council, 66% of American drivers said they would make a phone call while driving through a parking lot. 63% said they would set up their GPS or map application, and 56% said they would text.

The leading cause of parking lot accidents is distraction or, more specifically, cell phone use. Lulled into a false sense of security by the slow speeds of parking lot navigation, drivers may be tempted to start their engines and pull out while still scrolling on their phones. However, regardless of the setting, the consequences of distracted driving remain potentially deadly.

Hectic Holidays & Parking Lot Accidents

While they can happen at any time, parking lot accident risks rise during the holiday shopping season. In fact, car insurance companies see 34% more accident claims reported on Black Friday than on an average day – and this doesn’t even take into account all of the accidents that go unreported!

Overall, parking lot accidents increase approximately 20% during the holiday season.

What days should you avoid packed parking lots? A study from Sensormatic Solutions predicts the country’s top ten busiest 2020 holiday shopping days as follows:

  1. Friday, November 27th, “Black Friday”
  2. Saturday, December 19th, “Super Saturday”
  3. Saturday, December 26th
  4. Wednesday, December 23rd
  5. Saturday, December 12th
  6. Monday, December 21st
  7. Saturday, November 28th
  8. Tuesday, December 22nd
  9. Saturday, December 5th
  10. Sunday, December 20th

Parking Lot Accident Safety Tips For Pedestrians

When it comes to getting hurt in a parking lot accident, there’s plenty shoppers can do to minimize their risk.

Stay alert! Cars and trucks aren’t your only concern. From icy pavement and puddles to errant shopping carts, there are plenty of parking lot hazards to look out for, so don’t get distracted! Eyes ahead. Don’t look down at your phone or shopping list while you are walking through a parking lot.

Use designated crosswalks. Do not cut across a parking lot or walk in an unpredictable path. Always look both ways before entering an intersection or crosswalk.

Leave no one behind. If you are walking with children or elderly relatives, hold on to their hands and escort them to safety.

Don’t hesitate to ask for help. If you have too many bags to safely carry, or if you’re balancing a stack of boxes that might obscure your vision, ask for assistance. Someone can walk your purchases out to your car with you.

Plan ahead. Avoid peak shopping times or last-minute rushes (see our list of busiest shopping days above.) Order what you need online, if possible.

Parking Lot Accident Safety Tips For Drivers

Diligent drivers can prevent parking lot crashes by following these guidelines.

Park further away from the entrance. We know it’s a pain to lug those gift bags all the way back to your car, but hear us out. There will be less competition for these spots, and therefore less traffic around them as you are leaving.

Never assume a space is empty. From certain angles, motorcycles and small compact cars might trick you into thinking a space is empty until you’re too close. Approach with caution.

Back into your parking spot. Backing into a parking space can be tricky, but it’s generally less hazardous than backing out of one. When you’re ready to leave, you can pull forward without fear of hitting another car or shopper.

Always check your mirror and blind spots. When you are backing out of your space, proceed slowly. Check all mirrors and be mindful of your vehicle’s blind spots. Small children may be too short to notice in your rearview mirror, so…

Look out for children. Unwitting children may run out in front of or behind your vehicle in a parking lot.

Eliminate distractions. If you need to fiddle with your phone, look up directions, or choose some tunes, do it before leaving your parking space.

Follow the flow of traffic. Follow the established traffic patterns of the parking lot. Look for arrows on the ground, signage, or security attendants waving people through.

Never speed. Parking lots require patience. Never speed or try to beat someone to a parking space.

Take advantage of technology. Many newer vehicles come equipped with backup cameras or beeping collision avoidance sensors. Parking lots are the perfect place to put them to use! (The National Safety Council determined 9% of pedestrian deaths in parking lots happen due to backup accidents.)

Resist road rage. We know you may be jockeying for a primo parking spot, but don’t get irritated by the process. Think twice before honking that horn, and remember everyone around you just wants to get home to their families safe and sound.

Secure your cargo. If you’re transporting a large purchase — like a Christmas tree or a piece of furniture — always make sure it is properly secured before you drive off.

Buckle up. Always remember to buckle your seatbelt the moment you enter your vehicle.

Parking Lot Accident Laws

Who has the right of way in a parking lot?

First, you should know there are two types of lanes in a parking lot. The “through lanes” make up the lot’s perimeter, passing by store entrances and connecting out to main roads. The “feeder lanes” extend inward from the perimeter, leading to individual parking spots.

Below are the Texas parking lot right of way rules:

  • When exiting a feeder lane, you must yield to anyone — driver or pedestrian — in a through lane.
  • When backing up or pulling out of parking space, you must yield to anyone already moving in a feeder lane.
  • Before making a turn, you must yield to anyone moving straight.
  • You must always stop at stop signs and yield signs, regardless of other right of way rules.

If a driver breaks any of these rules and causes a crash that injures you, they will be liable for your damages.

If you’ve been in a parking lot accident, how do you determine fault?

Every claim is different, so we can’t give you a one-size-fits-all answer. However, if a careless, inattentive driver cuts across a lot or ignores arrows on the ground or other signage, they may be at fault. “I never even saw them” is a common excuse, but all drivers have a responsibility to check their blind spots and navigate parking lots at slow, safe speeds.

Drivers are not the only potentially liable parties. In the event of a parking lot with an improper design, poorly-maintained asphalt, or overgrown landscaping, the property owner(s) may be liable.

A parking lot accident lawyer can help you get to the bottom of your accident and place the blame where it belongs.

Are parking lot accidents 50/50?

Nope. It’s a total myth that parking lot accidents are “50/50” – meaning that when a two-car accident happens in a parking lot, both drivers are equally at fault. Parking lot accidents will be treated like any other car accident, with thorough investigation to determine fault. The good news? There are usually plenty of witnesses to a parking lot accident. If one of the drivers has violated a right of way law (see above), they will likely be found at fault.

Does insurance cover accidents in parking lots?

It all depends on your policy and its coverage.

Liability coverage, the minimum insurance coverage Texas residents must carry, exists to pay for bodily injury and property damage if you hit someone. On the other hand, if someone hit your car while it was parked and empty, their liability insurance will cover your property damage.

Additionally, collision coverage and personal injury protection could help you pay for your expenses after a parking lot car accident. Collision coverage pays for damage to your vehicle from a collision with another vehicle, while personal injury protection, or PIP, pays for your medical expenses regardless of who was at fault in the accident.

If it was a hit-and-run accident*, uninsured motorist property damage coverage may help you pay for the damage.

To learn more about your policy and your options, connect with a car accident lawyer now.

Do police respond to parking lot accidents?

Parking lot accidents are not a high priority for the police. There is no guarantee that the police will respond to call for a car accident in a parking lot, unless there are serious injuries or safety concerns.

Additionally, parking lots are considered private property. This means even if police respond to the scene, they generally do not write a crash report. This can be good for your driving record if you’re at fault, but bad for your insurance claim if you were an innocent victim.

What to Do After a Parking Lot Accident

If you walk out of a store and see your own car is damaged, call the police, then call your insurance company and file a report right away. Your policy may cover the damage.

Conversely, if you hit a parked car, fess up. If you drive away, you could be charged with leaving the scene of an accident. Don’t have time to wait and face the other vehicle’s owner? Leave your contact information on a note under their windshield wiper.

If both drivers are around:

  • Move the vehicles out of the way of others.
  • Check that everyone involved is unharmed. If someone is hurt, call for emergency services immediately.
  • Exchange information with the other driver.
  • Take pictures of any damages to any of the vehicles. These photos will be useful when you make a claim with your insurance company or file a report with the police.

Many people don’t think it’s necessary to file a claim for a “minor accident” like a parking lot fender bender. Unfortunately, even low-speed crashes are capable of causing serious injuries to your head, neck, and spine.

If you are involved in any parking lot accident, reach out to an experienced car accident lawyer from our team and get the medical care you need.

Stay Safe & Get Home for the Holidays!

Attorney, Stewart J. Guss

We hope this helped you learn more about how to avoid parking lot accidents during the holiday season!

Unfortunately, even if you follow every tip and take every precaution, your day could still be interrupted by someone else’s rude or reckless behavior.

If you’ve been hurt in a parking lot accident or other wreck caused by someone else’s carelessness, we may be able to help. Reach out now for your fast, free, confidential consultation! We’re available 24/7.

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