Who Is at Fault in a Parking Lot Accident?
Many parking lots in West Virginia have been the settings of automobile and pedestrian accidents. Confusing parking lot designs, distracted and negligent drivers, and lots of pedestrians crossing, all increase the risk of parking lot collisions. West Virginia is a fault insurance state. You must determine fault for your parking lot accident before you can call an insurance company and request compensation for damages. Many different parties could be liable for a parking lot accident depending on the situation. Read on to learn more or consider speaking with a knowledgeable car accident lawyer in West Virginia.
Driver errors cause most auto accidents in West Virginia. Distracted, drunk, reckless, and negligent driving can easily cause parking lot accidents. In 2017, West Virginia recorded 303 traffic accident fatalities. Thirty-two drivers who lost their lives in car accidents had blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels of 0.08% or higher. Drivers make mistakes every day that cause preventable accidents. Parking lot accidents can arise due to the fault of a driver engaged in many dangerous practices:
- Texting and driving
- Talking to passengers
- Eating or drinking while driving
- Ignoring the right-of-way
- Drowsy driving
- Failing to check mirrors
If a negligent driver collided with you in a West Virginia parking lot, he or she may be individually liable for your damages. You will file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. The insurance company will then issue a check to cover your medical bills and property damages, after investigating the collision and accepting your claim.
A Property Owner
It is a business or property owner’s legal responsibility to ensure the reasonable safety of a premises – including the parking lot of a building. This does not mean the property owner will be responsible for preventing all accidents in the parking lot; however, it does mean the owner must take reasonable precautions to make the parking lot as safe as possible for invited visitors. This can include many different responsibilities:
- Maintaining the parking lot
- Fixing potholes or defects
- Repainting faded lines
- Ensuring adequate lighting
- Installing crosswalks
- Posting speed limit signs
Private parking lots leave these duties to the individual property owner. You may be able to hold the owner responsible for a parking lot accident if a defect in the lot contributed to the collision, and if the owner knew or reasonably should have known about the defect in time to make repairs.
The City of Charleston
If your parking lot accident occurred on public property, the city that owns the land could be at least partially responsible. The city of Charleston may be liable for your damages if the parking lot contained a defect that caused your injuries, such as an unsafe parking lot design. Parking lots with confusing designs or lack of signage could lead to preventable collisions. It is possible to file a claim against the government in West Virginia. Unlike most states, the rules are the same for claims against the government. You have two years to file, as you would for any other personal injury lawsuit.
Many parking lot accident cases involve shared fault across more than one party. A driver may be at fault for texting and driving, for example, but the property owner could share fault for designing a dangerous parking lot. Third parties could also share involvement in personal injuries. The manufacturer of a defective seatbelt, for instance, may share liability for the injuries sustained in a parking lot accident.
Hiring a lawyer after a parking lot accident can help you determine fault. A lawyer can investigate the collision, collect evidence, speak to eyewitnesses, and obtain any security camera footage on your behalf. Once your lawyer knows the correct defendant, he or she can begin negotiating a fair settlement from the at-fault party for your damages.