Most drivers do not anticipate getting into an accident in a parking lot. The good news is that these types of accidents typically aren’t very serious, since cars are usually moving at lower speeds in parking lots. The bad news, however, is that since cars are going in every direction, it’s difficult to determine parking lot accident fault.

Since these types of accidents tend to be low impact and often do not require a police report, it is up to each driver to work on building a case for their side. Like all accidents, it is important to take speed, visibility, and each vehicle’s right-of-way into consideration. At Russell & Lazarus APC, we can help you navigate the claims process after a parking lot accident.

Right of Way Rules in the Parking Lot

Most drivers are aware of parking lot rules — such as cutting through parking spaces, driving too fast, not giving thoroughfare lanes the right of way, and stopping in the feeder lane if you are approaching a thoroughfare lane.

What are thoroughfare and feeder lanes?

  • Thoroughfare lane: main lanes that lead to either the entrance or the exit.
  • Feeder lane: lanes that link thoroughfare lanes and which often lead to parking spots.

So what scenarios could lead to parking lot accidents, and who is most likely at fault?

How to Determine Parking Lot Accident Fault

Cars Backing Into Each Other

If two cars back into each other while pulling out a spot, neither of them have the right of way. This means each driver is responsible for their vehicle’s movements. Most likely, both drivers will share the fault for this type of accident since everyone is responsible for watching their surroundings while backing out of a parking space.

Collision in the Feeder Lane After Driving Through an Empty Space

Cars in the feeder lane of a parking lot always have the right of way. Cars that hit a vehicle in the feeder lane while racing through parking spots will most likely be found liable for the accident. Still, it is the responsibility of both drivers to be observant while moving through the parking lot.

Backing Into a Passing Car

A car that backs up into a vehicle in the feeder lane will probably be more liable for the accident. Cars in the feeder land always have the right of way. Vehicles who are backing out of a spot have an obligation to watch for other cars while moving.

Collision in the Same Parking Space

Two cars that collide while trying to move into the same space presents a tricky situation for insurance companies. Both drivers most likely have some fault, but the right of way will depend on the situation. For example, a car who is crossing traffic lanes to turn into a spot has a greater chance of being held liable for the accident. With this type of collision, responsibility will be determined after figuring out the point of impact, each car’s speed, and how far the vehicles made it into the spot.

Rear-Ending at a Stop Sign

The car at the stop sign would not be held at fault since it was not moving. Even if the front car suddenly slammed on the brakes before the sign, a driver following behind should be maintaining enough space between the vehicles.

What to Do After a Parking Lot Accident

Police are often not called to the scene of a parking lot accident. This means you must take the initiative after the accident to collect important information for your case. Be sure to exchange insurance information with the other driver, take photographs of each vehicle and any damage, and try to get contact details from any witnesses.

The more information you are able to get, the stronger your insurance claim will be. Make sure to speak with your insurance company as soon as possible after the accident so the claims process can start.

We Can Help Determine Who Was at Fault in a Parking Lot Accident

At Russell & Lazarus APC, we know that establishing parking lot accident fault can be tricky. We can help you through a car accident claim and advocate on your behalf if you choose to go to court. Contact us today to speak to an experienced Orange County car accident lawyer.