Parking lots are common settings for car accidents, “fender benders,” and pedestrian collisions. Indeed, they are naturally hazardous places to drive. There are many vehicles and pedestrians walking in all directions, many signs to heed, and the need to back in or out of tight spaces. Inexperienced and careless drivers pose a higher risk of parking lot accidents than others, but drivers aren’t the only ones who may be liable for these types of crashes. Depending on the circumstances, other parties could be responsible for covering your damages so it is imperative you speak with a skilled West Virginia car accident attorney as soon as possible following your collision.
The Other Driver
The most obvious liable party in a parking lot collision is the other driver. If another driver caused the crash by failing to yield the right of way, not looking before pulling out, texting while driving, or otherwise driving negligently, you may be able to recover through the driver’s insurance company. Ideally, the other driver will comply with you, admit fault, and give you the necessary information to file a claim. The insurer will cover your expenses and close the case.
In the event of a hit-and-run, you’ll either need to recover through your uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance or seek help from an attorney. There may be surveillance footage of the parking lot that shows the vehicle make, model, and license plate of the person who struck you or your car. If the other driver was negligent and your injuries are severe, as is often the case in pedestrian collisions, consider filing a personal injury claim instead of accepting an insurance settlement. An attorney can help you weigh both options.
The Property Owner
Sometimes the other driver isn’t at fault for the accident – at least not entirely. Poor parking lot design, lack of signage, or other property defects may have caused or contributed to the collision. In these cases, parties involved in the crash may be able to hold the property owner liable for injuries and vehicle damage. Examples of situations that could point to property owner liability for parking lot accidents include:
- Icy parking lots
- Shopping carts striking cars
- Inadequate security
- Lack of parking lot signs
- Poor traffic control
- Employee negligence
West Virginia’s comparative fault laws make it possible to recover damages even if you were partially responsible for your parking lot wreck. The courts will simply reduce your compensation amount or judgment award by your percentage of fault for the collision. It’s also possible to divide fault amongst two or more parties. For example, the property owner may be partially liable for poor design, but the other driver is also at fault for texting and driving.
A Third Party
In some cases, a third party may be liable. For instance, if your vehicle’s brakes failed and made you crash into an oncoming car in the parking lot, the manufacturer of the defective part may be to blame. A pedestrian may have darted out in front of your car without giving you enough time to stop. Third-party liability claims are possible in addition to claims against involved parties. Parking lot accidents can quickly become complex legal matters. Contact a West Virginia personal injury lawyer for assistance with these types of claims.