When people think of car accidents, they think of stop lights, stop signs, or even Interstate pile-ups. If they think of slipping and falling, they think of their homes, or perhaps a workplace. There’s actually one place where all of those risks combine, including the risk of being hit by a car.
Parking lots are a part of everyday life for most, and they can be a free-for-all when it comes to safety. It’s one of the few places where motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists share the same space and are often subject to the weather. Even with pandemic restrictions in place, many grocery stores, department stores, and hospitals are open to the public.
Parking Lot Danger #1: Distracted or Careless Drivers
Believe it or not, parking lots can be just as dangerous as main roadways. Many injuries that occur in parking lot accidents are the result of negligence. Speeding and distracted driving are common in parking lots – people fiddling with their seat belts, phones, navigation systems, sunroofs, windows, or dealing with shifting groceries are just a few examples.
Crashes involving two cars can occur when drivers back out of spaces or fail to yield the right of way to other drivers. The National Safety Council conducted a public opinion poll in 2016 that found:
- 63% of participants admitted to programming a GPS while driving in a parking lot.
- 56% admitted to texting and driving in a parking lot.
- 52% admitted to using social media.
- 50% admitted to reading emails.
- 49% admitted to taking pictures or watching videos.
How many of us are guilty of fiddling with a mask these days, as well?
Low Impact Car Accidents in Parking Lots Can Lead to Serious Injuries
There is a common misconception that if there is little car damage in a low-impact crash, then it’s unlikely that an injury occurred. The attorneys at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin often see injuries occur in low impact parking lot crashes. For example, a rear-end collision or side-impact crash that occurs in a parking lot can lead to whiplash, neck and back injuries, soft tissue injuries, and concussions.
Plus, how many people fail to buckle up until they’re moving? Some people don’t fasten their seat belts until they’re leaving the lot – and that lack of restraint could lead to injuries in low speed car accidents as well. And we’re just talking about the people in cars.
Even if you feel fine after a parking lot accident or your initial injuries seem minor, it’s important that you get medical help as soon as possible. A medical evaluation may reveal an injury that you were not aware of at the time of your accident. Some injuries can take several days to produce symptoms.
Parking Lot Danger #2: Pedestrians and Cyclists Not Paying Attention
While accidents involving two cars may result in injuries, pedestrians and cyclists are at a far greater risk. As much as it is a driver’s responsibility to watch what they are doing, pedestrians should be especially alert – they have the greatest risk of injury.
Many parking lots are poorly lit and lack walking areas specifically designated for pedestrians. Many modern cars have cameras and warning sensors, but that doesn’t entirely eliminate crashes or injuries – technology is not infallible. Some drivers trust too much in the technology when a simple glance could prevent certain injuries from ever happening.
Pedestrians and cyclists also don’t have the protection of a vehicular frame if they’re hit by a car. They’re not restrained by seatbelts or protected by airbags. As a result, the injuries they sustain in parking lot accidents are more likely to be severe.
For example, pedestrians and cyclists can sustain injuries such as:
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Serious spinal injuries
- Crushed limbs
- Nerve pain
- Internal injuries
In spite of all of that, people still walk down the middle of the travel lanes, cut between cars where drivers can’t see them, sort through groceries or purchases, talk to each other, and pay more attention to their phones than the two-ton automobiles that could run them over.
Parking Lot Danger #3: Slips and Falls
How many times have you nearly fallen in a parking lot because of a curb or concrete wheel stop in a parking space? Or a pothole, or other uneven surface? Or a slick surface due to rain, ice, or oil?
Slips and falls aren’t always a product of being clumsy or inattentive. Maybe the parking lot is poorly lit and you trip on something you couldn’t see in the darkness. Maybe the pavement is in poor condition and you turn an ankle in a depression and fall. Or maybe the drainage is poor and causing water to pool. You might slip in a puddle or step in what you think is a shallow puddle only to find it much deeper, causing you to fall.
The owners of these lots are responsible for maintaining a reasonably safe environment, and for warning patrons if a dangerous condition exists. If negligent maintenance contributed to a slip and fall accident causing injury in a parking lot, you may be entitled to compensation through a personal injury case!
Parking Lot Injuries and Workers Compensation
Whether you’re in North Carolina or South Carolina, there are laws in place to protect workers. Most employers are required by the state to carry workers’ compensation insurance. As a result, if you’re injured in a parking lot while you’re carrying out work duties, you may be entitled to compensation in the form of workers’ compensation – in addition to a possible personal injury claim against the lot’s owner if the injury was caused by negligent maintenance or lack of proper warning.
There are some interesting rules about when an employee is and is not covered. It will depend on your state, your job, and why you were in the parking lot in the first place. It’s probably best to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney if you have any questions about your specific circumstance.
Protecting Yourself After a Parking Lot Accident
If you were injured in a parking lot accident, your life could become a series of overwhelming challenges. You could be facing a long rehabilitation period, be out of work for months and unable to support your family. You may never be able to work again.
The negligent party who injured you may very well deny any responsibility. He or she, in fact, may blame you, adding to your worries as you try to navigate your way through the legal system. An insurance company, knowing you may be financially desperate, may make a lowball settlement offer to save itself money.
Before signing away your rights, contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin to protect your rights, and help you seek the maximum compensation you may deserve. We have been handling personal injury cases for decades. We know how the legal system works and how to take on large insurance companies that do not want to pay you and your family for your injuries, suffering, and financial losses.