Injuries from auto accidents are among the most common types of personal injuries. There are approximately 11 million motor vehicle accidents in the United States each year, which averages out to more than 30,000 per day. The accidents that get the most attention are the ones that occur on the roadways, and for good reason. But crashes in parking lots and garages can also be deadly, and they happen more often than most people realize.
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), there are more than 50,000 crashes that occur in parking lots and garages annually, resulting in more than 500 deaths and tens of thousands of injuries. And because these accidents often involve pedestrians, many of the injuries that occur are serious and debilitating, leaving victims with a lifetime of medical expenses and a severely diminished quality of life.
Part of the problem with parking areas is that drivers fail to understand how dangerous they can be. While it is true that motorists drive more slowly through lots and garages, they are also driving in more compact and enclosed areas with a disproportionately high number of pedestrians walking nearby. Everyone who parks their car has to get out and walk to and from wherever they are going, so there is a continual flow of pedestrians that drivers need to be aware of.
Common Causes of Parking Area Collisions
Crashes in parking lots and garages are almost always preventable. A majority of them are caused by a driver, and when that is the case, they tend to happen for one of two reasons; stress or distractions.
People are always in a hurry these days, and when they enter a parking area, they are usually in a rush to find a spot. When they drive around for a while and cannot find one, the frustration builds, and the driver can become more aggressive. This is especially true during the holidays when shoppers are out in full force and parking lots and garages fill up quickly.
Distracted driving is another major contributor to parking area accidents. A public opinion poll conducted by the NSC found that a majority of drivers allow themselves to be distracted when they are driving through a lot or garage. Here are some of the highly disturbing findings from the poll:
- 66% of adult motorists say they would make phone calls when driving through parking areas;
- 63% say they would program a GPS system;
- 56% say they would send a text;
- 52% say they would use social media;
- 50% say they would send or receive emails;
- 53% say they would be more likely to engage in personal grooming;
- 49% say they would take photos or watch videos.
Teen drivers are less likely to be on the phone than adult drivers, but they are more likely to engage in personal grooming and in various types of electronic activity on their smartphones.
Distracted walking is a problem that can contribute to parking lot and garage accidents as well. Many pedestrians are also tempted to spend time on their smartphones doing various activities, and this can cause them to miss important things that are happening around them, such as a vehicle passing by.
Some accidents may be the fault of a party that is not directly involved, such as the owner or manager of a parking garage. For example, some lots and garages have faulty designs with confusing signs that point in multiple directions and parking spaces that are too small for an average-sized vehicle to safely park in. Parking lot maintenance is another common issue, especially with slip and fall pedestrian accidents that may be caused by potholes, cracks in the cement, uneven pavement, and similar issues.
Proving Fault in a Parking Lot or Garage Accident
Parking area injury claims can be highly complicated, and it is often difficult for victims to recover compensation. This is especially true in states like Alabama, where they apply the “contributory negligence” legal doctrine in personal injury cases. Under contributory negligence, an injured party can be barred from covering compensation if they are found to be even 1% at fault for the underlying accident.
This does not mean it is impossible to win cases like these, but it does mean you need to be proactive and get an experienced attorney involved as early as possible after the accident. By retaining strong legal counsel right away, steps will be taken to uncover critical facts and preserve important pieces of evidence, so your right to recover just compensation for your injuries can be fully protected.
Injured in a Parking Area Accident in Alabama? Contact a Skilled and Knowledgeable Auto Accident Lawyer
If you or someone close to you has been injured in a parking lot or parking garage collision, M. Adam Jones and Associates is ready to go to work for you! Call our office today at 334-581-9238 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys. You may also message us online or stop by our Dothan, AL office in person at your convenience.