The typical motorist in Chicago knows that car accidents pose a risk as they navigate the streets or the expressways that surround the city. But when considering safety, fewer drivers think about non-roadway accidents as a possible source of harm. Among these crashes, parking lot accidents emerge with regularity, causing damage to the vehicles involved and leaving people, especially drivers and pedestrians, with injuries.
Surprisingly around 20 percent of all motor vehicle accidents occur in parking lots, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. As urban areas in the United States continue to grow, there are more and more busy parking areas. As a result, parking lot accidents are on the rise.
Often it can be difficult to determine who is at fault in parking lot collisions. Insurance companies often try to argue that there is no right-of-way in parking areas, and they will try to take the position that their insured is not at fault no matter what facts are presented to them.
How parking lot accidents occur:
Parking facilities are often crowded with vehicles fighting over a limited number of spaces. Motorists are often more aggressive while parking as compared to how they would behave on the open road. Collisions in parking lots often involve motor vehicles, pedestrians, motorcycles and bicycles. Even though most of these impacts involve lower speeds, serious injuries can result.
Most parking lot accidents occur when vehicles are backing out of spaces. Drivers are often in a hurry and distracted. They pull out quickly, failing to yield to pedestrians and other vehicles. They might be dealing with their kids, talking or texting on a cell phone, or even eating or drinking a beverage.
From information gathered in 2007, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that annually there are 14,000 people hurt and 221 people killed in non-traffic related back over collisions. The government further believes that 39 percent of back over deaths take place in residential areas, which includes parking lots. Children are at a particularly high risk for back over injuries and deaths with 118 children under the age of 14 losing their lives in back over accidents in 2007 alone.
At the same time, sometimes parking lot accidents occur when motorists driving in parking lot aisles are traveling too fast for conditions. They are busy searching for a parking spot and not paying attention to other cars pulling out of parking spaces or people on foot.
Ways to avoid a parking lot collision:
Drivers: First, slow down. Parking lots can be filled with hazards and obstacles. The biggest danger is typically other drivers. If you are traveling at a slow rate of speed, this gives you additional time to maneuver or stop to avoid a collision. Second, be on the lookout for pedestrians. Parking structures are often crowded with people getting in and out of cars. Often pedestrians themselves are not being careful, however under Illinois law drivers have the duty to be on the lookout for people on foot. Third, distance yourself from other objects. The closer you drive to other vehicles, the less time you have to react to pedestrians or cars.
Other suggestions would be to use your traffic signals (the same as you would if you were driving on the street), use headlights when appropriate, park in a less crowded part of the lot, and park within the boundaries of a marked parking spot.
Advances in vehicular design significantly can reduce or even eliminate collisions that otherwise may occur in a parking lot. Drivers who are shopping for a new vehicle may wish to consider a car with these advances, including a backup camera, as the feature may prove beneficial for an owner and for pedestrians near a crash. Back up cameras enable drivers to see obstacles behind their rear bumpers prior to backing and can alert a driver to a hazard long before and impact takes place.
Pedestrians: When stepping into a parking lot area where vehicles travel, stop, look both ways and listen for cars. If you are with children, hold their hand or make sure they are right next to you. Never make the assumption that a motorist will observe you or is going to yield to you.
What to do if involved in a parking lot accident:
A parking lot accident should be handled like any other accident on the road. Don't panic and stay at the scene. Exchange information with the other people involved in the collision and contact police by calling 911. Even if there appears to be no property damage or bodily injury, it is best to gather as much information about the incident as possible. Obtain the other person's name, address, insurance information, driver's license information and phone number. Write down the license plate number, make and model of the other vehicle. It is also a good idea to look around for witnesses to the accident.
When police officers arrive, they will typically prepare a detailed police report that will include relevant information needed. Note: Auto insurance carriers often require that a police report be filed before they will pay on a claim. Cooperate with the investigating officer and try to make sure you have a chance to tell your side of the story. Often the other driver will be apologetic for causing the accident, but then change their story once police arrive. Always make sure the officer hears your version of the events.
If injured, let the investigating officer know of your condition. Further, seek medical attention as soon as possible. It is also advised that you contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to help protect your rights and interests as soon as it is practical to do so.
Chicago parking lot injury lawyers:
Over the years the lawyers at Abels & Annes have worked on many parking lot cases. Often the injuries can be significant, especially when involving bicyclists and pedestrians. Even a slow impact collision can have devastating consequences for someone on foot or on a bike.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a parking lot collision, contact the dedicated Chicago car accident attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. for a free, no obligation consultation. We are here to answer your questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Contact us through our website or call us at (855) LAW-CHICAGO (529-2442) or locally at (312) 924-7575.