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Robert E. Craven & Associates Rhode Island Personal Injury Attorney

Parking Lot Accidents: How They Happen And Who Is At Fault


Parking lots are generally thought of as safe places to drive. Most of the cars, hopefully, are going at lower speeds, and there are no traffic control lights or signs for drivers to ignore or blow through. But you might be surprised that the parking lot is one place that is more dangerous than you may think, despite all these seemingly “safe” factors.

What Makes Parking Lots so Dangerous?

What is it about a parking lot that poses more risks or dangers, than a traditional roadway?

One obvious factor is distraction: drivers often aren’t looking at the road, or other cars or pedestrians—they are looking for spaces. And when they do find an open space, many drivers will drive as fast as possible to get there, ignoring whatever is in their way.

In a parking lot, cars tend to come at us at angles that we aren’t used to. On the roadway, we don’t have to worry about cars backing into us. But that isn’t the case in a parking lot. And because many times a stationary car looks just like a car that’s backing out of a space, accidents when people are getting out of spaces are common.

Many parking lots just don’t have the ability to monitor or control traffic. In very large, crowded parking lots, there may be a shocking lack of anything resembling any kind of traffic control device.

Stop signs may be painted on the road, instead of on a sign, and there are rarely if ever any traffic lights and almost never any posted speed limits.

Compound all this with the comfort that many drivers have that there are no police in parking lots, and you start to see why parking lot accidents are becoming all too common.

Pedestrian Problems

Pedestrians are much more common in parking lots, making pedestrian accidents much more likely to occur. Worse, unlike when crossing a major roadway, many pedestrians may not yield the right of way to cars, may not cross in appropriate places, or may simply walk out in front of traffic completely.

Who is At Fault?

Because of the lack of clear signage or lights, drivers in parking lot accidents will often argue who was at fault—that is, who had the right of way or who was supposed to yield but didn’t?

Parking lot accidents often depend on eye witnesses—and the good thing about parking lot accidents is that unlike other kinds of accidents, there often are eyewitnesses in a parking lot.

Where there is no clear stop sign to observe, and no clear light telling which driver has the right of way, courts will look to due care and prudence. Courts will ask which driver had the chance to avoid the accident, but didn’t, or which driver may have failed to stop in an intersection that common sense would dictate that they stop at.

Sometimes, depending on location, surveillance cameras and videos are available, and they may show the accident, helping prove who was at fault.

Injured in a parking lot accident? Contact our Rhode Island personal injury lawyers at Robert E. Craven & Associates at 401-453-2700 today.


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