Parking lots can be dangerous places. Driving in a crowded parking lot often means being surrounded by distracted drivers vying with one another for available space, keeping an eye open for people walking to and from their parked vehicles, and safely navigating your way through congested feeder and thoroughfare lanes. Collisions in parking lots are common occurrences, however since accidents often occur at low speeds, typically the damage they cause is relatively minor.
That said, motor vehicle collisions inside the boundaries of a parking lot can have serious repercussions. Even when accidents take place at relatively low speeds, these incidents can cause substantial property damage. Collisions could also result in physical injuries, including soft tissue damage such as whiplash. Furthermore, if a motor vehicle strikes a pedestrian while they are walking through the lot towards or away from their vehicle, the collision could cause that pedestrian to sustain severe injuries. Pedestrian accidents in parking lots can also end in loss of life.
In Ontario, parking lot accidents commonly occur when:
- Two cars simultaneously pull out from their parking spaces and collide with each other.
- Distracted drivers collide with parked cars.
- Vehicles collide with other cars while turning out of a feeder lane into the lot’s main thoroughfare.
- Vehicles in motion collide with a car pulling out of their parking space.
- Two cars vying for the same parking space collide with each other.
- A car stopped at a stop sign is rear-ended by a distracted driver.
- A vehicle in motion strikes a pedestrian.
After a car accident in a parking lot, if the combined damage to both vehicles involved exceeds $2,000, the accident must be reported to police or a collision reporting centre. Drivers involved in a parking lot accident may be tempted to enter into a verbal agreement with the other driver or to take a monetary settlement at the scene. Doing so, however, may limit your future options if you discover additional damages either to your vehicle or yourself after leaving the accident scene. Drivers involved in a parking lot accident should exchange contact information, insurance details, and license plate numbers with one another. They may also take photos of any damage caused to their vehicles in the collision.
Even if you do not feel like you have sustained an injury as a result of your parking lot accident, seeking immediate medical attention could be crucial. Symptoms of certain injuries may take several days or even weeks to develop. Receiving a proper diagnosis as soon as possible could help avoid future complications in your recovery process.
If your parking lot accident caused you to sustain injuries, an Ontario car accident lawyer may be able to help you pursue financial compensation.
Understanding the 50-50 Myth
There is a common misconception that, when accidents occur in a parking lot, both drivers automatically share the fault equally, regardless of who was really responsible for causing the collision. Many people believe in this “50-50 Myth” because of the frequency and often negligible damage caused by parking lot accidents. Believing this myth may cause drivers involved in parking lot accidents to work out some kind of financial settlement with the other driver at the scene of the accident, since going through one another’s insurance companies will only result in the two drivers equally sharing the fault.
This is simply not true.
In Ontario, certain provisions of the provincial Highway Traffic Act do not apply on private property. This includes the majority of parking lots, most of which are privately owned. That means that drivers who commit offences while driving through a parking lot will likely not face charges, accumulate demerit points, or be subject to fines for their involvement in any parking lot accidents.
However, even though parking lots may be private property, drivers operating their vehicles within their boundaries must drive responsibly and obey all posted traffic signs and speed limits. If a collision occurs inside an Ontario parking lot, liability for the accident is determined in accordance with the province’s Fault Determination Rules.
In any accident, fault is determined on a case-by-case basis. Fault is dependent on a number of circumstances, specific to each collision. That said, in a parking lot, drivers who fail to yield to a passing car with the right of way will be considered entirely at-fault for the accident. For example, if a car pulls out of their parking space and strikes a passing vehicle, the driver exiting their parking space will be considered entirely at-fault for the collision.
Cars driving through the parking lot’s main thoroughfares (i.e. the parking lot’s outer lanes) have the right of way over cars in the lot’s feeder lanes (i.e. lanes leading to parking spaces). If a driver exiting a feeder lane turns onto the lot’s main thoroughfare without yielding to an oncoming driver, they will be entirely responsible for the resulting collision.
Hit and Run Accidents in Parking Lots
Even inside a parking lot, failing to remain at the scene of an accident can have serious repercussions. If convicted, Ontario hit and run drivers can incur a fine of up to $2500, a criminal conviction, and even jail time. However, even though these consequences could be severe, many people involved in hit and run accidents inside parking lots decide to drive away from the scene without leaving their contact information.
Hit and run drivers flee the scene of an accident without demonstrating any consideration for the property damage they may have caused, or the physical wellbeing of the people they could have injured. Depending on the severity of the impact, car accidents in parking lots can have costly consequences. Adequately repairing a vehicle damaged in a parking lot hit and run collision could be expensive, especially if the collision took place at a high speed. Furthermore, injuries sustained in hit and run accidents could require prolonged recovery periods. The costs of necessary medical care combined with an inability to return to the workplace while convalescing could have a serious financial impact on the victim of a parking lot hit and run especially if it is a pedestrian.
If your damages and losses exceed the monetary awards available to you through statutory accident benefits, in order to pursue financial compensation, you must first make reasonable efforts to identify the owner/operator of the vehicle that caused the collision. If the at-fault driver remains unidentified, you can make a claim through your own policy of insurance.
Parking lots are often equipped with video surveillance cameras. This footage may be useful when trying to identify a hit and run driver. That said, many drivers take extra precautions against hit and run drivers by installing a dash cam in their vehicle.
While many dash cams only begin recording after the vehicle’s engine has been ignited, newer models are often equipped with motion sensors. These sensors trigger the camera to start recording when they detect movement near the vehicle. With a device like this installed, if your parked car was damaged in a hit and run accident, you may have automatically recorded video evidence that could help police identify the at-fault driver.
When Pedestrians Are Injured in Parking Lots
When pedestrians are struck by motor vehicles in parking lots, severe injuries and fatalities can occur. In an instant, a person walking from their car to their destination could be killed by a driver who simply was not paying attention to the conditions around them.
Drivers in Ontario are legally obligated to provide a reasonable duty of care to other road-users, including pedestrians. Even inside parking lots, shirking this duty of care by violating traffic laws, like speeding or driving distractedly, may constitute driver negligence.
If a driver’s negligence causes an accident in which a pedestrian sustains injuries, an Ontario car accident lawyer may be able to help the injured party recover financial compensation from the at-fault driver. A car accident lawyer may be able to recover the following damages for their clients:
- Pain and suffering
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
- Ongoing medical care/in-home care
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Adjusted living expenses
- And possibly more
If another driver’s negligence in a parking lot caused a pedestrian accident that ended in a fatality, a wrongful death lawyer may be able to help the victim’s immediate family members. While no monetary amount can truly compensate a family who has tragically lost a loved one as the result of someone else’s negligence, if you’ve lost a child, spouse, sibling, parent, or grandparent because of another party’s negligence behind the wheel, a wrongful death lawyer may be able to help you recover compensation. Some expenses a wrongful death lawyer may be able to help you recover include:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of guidance or companionship
- Loss of future earnings anticipated over your loved one’s lifetime
- Medical costs incurred prior to your loved one’s death
- And possibly more, if eligible
Contact Preszler Injury Lawyers Today
If you have been injured in a parking lot accident, Preszler Injury Lawyers may be able to help you pursue financial compensation for damages you incurred as a result of your injuries. To discuss the circumstances of your accident and learn if you’re eligible to pursue damages contact us today.
For a free, initial consultation, call Preszler Injury Lawyers at 1-800-JUSTICE.