North Carolina Parking Lot Accident Laws

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During busy shopping months, many car accidents occur in parking lots rather than on roads. Since cars often travel in different directions, it can be challenging to determine who has the right-of-way. When an accident occurs in a parking lot, it may be difficult to determine who is at fault.

For years, our car accident lawyers have investigated accident scenes, identified all potentially liable parties, and pursued maximum compensation on behalf of our clients.

Parking Lot Accidents Caused By Driver Negligence

In parking lot accidents, liability is determined by which driver was negligent or careless.

Was a car moving or not?

Usually, when only one car is moving during an accident, its driver is held entirely or mostly responsible. Generally, if a vehicle is legally parked and another hits it, the driver of the moving vehicle will be found negligent and responsible.

Who had the right-of-way in the parking lot?

Due to traffic patterns, one driver usually has the right-of-way if both vehicles are moving, so the other driver may be held responsible for not respecting it.

The driver may also be negligent if they speed or fail to yield in a parking lot accident at a stop sign.

Typical Parking Lot Accident Scenarios

Parking lot accidents are common.

The following are some of the most common causes of these accidents:

  • While exiting parking spaces, two vehicles collide with each other: Each driver was backing out of a different space when the accident occurred. Motorists may not be looking for other vehicles or may not notice another driver in a blind spot. Both drivers were moving, and neither had the right-of-way; both may be held equally responsible.
  • An oncoming vehicle is rear-ended by a driver backing up: A driver might back out of a parking space and hit a vehicle moving in the opposite lane. Usually, the driver leaving the parking space is liable for these accidents since they must yield the right-of-way to moving vehicles and wait until it is safe to back out.
  • Drivers pull into oncoming traffic: This type of accident occurs when a driver pulls forward out of a parking space and into a moving lane. It is possible for a driver leaving a parking spot to be found at fault since they must yield to existing traffic. The driver might share some liability for the accident if they were speeding, distracted, or otherwise negligent.
  • A collision occurs between two vehicles competing for the same parking space: Two drivers can spot an open parking space at the same time and attempt to park in it simultaneously. Both drivers may be at fault in such an accident. In this case, the driver turning left at the time of the accident might be held more responsible since they failed to yield.

In Parking Lots, Rear-end Accidents Are Common

In most cases, the tailing motorist is liable for causing a rear impact crash, no matter where the wreck happens. Parking lots are no different. Keeping a safe space from the leading car is the tailing motorist’s duty, and failure can result in negligence. In most car wreck claims, negligence governs fault.

That means, even in parking lots, if the leading motorist stops unexpectedly to avoid striking someone who dashes into the parking lane, the tailing motorist will almost always be considered at fault if they crash into the leading motorist’s rear bumper.

Traffic Rules and Right-of-Way for Parking Lots

There are numerous lanes in the shopping mall or office parking lot and through lanes around the lot’s border from which cars enter the parking lot.

Traffic in the through lanes generally has the right-of-way over traffic parked in the parking lanes, and both should yield to vehicles in the through lanes. When a driver exits a parking lane and crashes with another car traveling in a through lane, the motorist exiting the parking lane is likely to be considered at fault for the mishap.

Exceptions to this general rule include drivers of vehicles in the through lane who fail to obey stop signs or yield signs that give the right-of-way to cars exiting parking lots.

Parking Lot Accidents Involving Left Turns

A left turn accident occurs when a motorist attempts to pull into a parking spot when turning left but fails to do so properly and hits another car coming into the parking lane from the other direction. A parking lot accident would be considered the fault of the driver who failed to obey right-of-way rules.

Insurers’ Fault Determination Process

An insurance company evaluates all evidence related to the accident to determine fault. The insurance company may review surveillance footage. To determine how the accident occurred, the insurance company may also review the statement of both drivers, witness statements, pictures of the scene, and damage locations on each vehicle.

It is important to remember that insurance adjusters will do everything in their power to deny or minimize the claim’s value. Generally, the adjuster will look at the evidence in a way that favors the insured.

Parking Lot Accidents: How to Avoid Them

You can take steps to reduce the risk of an accident in a parking lot. The following are among them:

  • Taking it slow while driving through a parking lot
  • Minimize blind spots by setting your side mirrors
  • Utilizing your vehicle’s technology to leave a parking spot safely
  • Indicating your intentions with turn signals
  • Be aware of other vehicles, pedestrians, and shopping carts before backing up
  • Observe all parking lot signs

Call Us Today to Speak with a Wilmington, NC Car Accident Lawyer

During a free consultation, you can discuss your rights with Horton & Mendez‘s knowledgeable car accident lawyers. The damages you have suffered, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, may be recoverable.

Because we work on a contingency fee basis, there are no upfront fees, and you only pay for our services if you obtain a financial recovery. Contact us at Horton & Mendez to learn more about your options.

Parking Lot Accident FAQs

Can I recover compensation after a parking lot accident?

It depends on who was at fault. An attorney can help you determine whether you have a claim.

How much is my parking lot accident case worth?

The value of your case depends on a number of factors, including the severity of your accident, your injuries, and whether you were partially at fault.

How long do I have to file a claim for a parking lot accident injury?

Under North Carolina law, you have three years from the date of your injury to file a claim.

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