The Hidden Dangers of Parking Lots and Garages
During driver’s education, we are trained to drive defensively and be continually aware of potential hazards along the roadways. But one thing driving instructors do not spend too much time on is safely navigating our way around parking lots and garages. Most of us presume that parking areas are fairly safe, but data from the National Safety Council (NSC) shows that these areas are far more dangerous than you may realize.
Each year, there are more than 50,000 collisions in parking lots and parking garages, resulting in more than 500 fatalities and tens of thousands of serious injuries. And overall, somewhere between 20% and 25% of all traffic-related accidents occur in parking areas.
The NSC also points out that the dangers are highest during the holidays. Insurance claims from parking lot and parking garage accidents spike on Black Friday, and they remain above normal throughout the holiday shopping season. This is the time of year when everyone is out shopping and there is heavy competition for parking spots, and it is a good time to raise awareness about this danger.
What Causes Parking Lot Accidents?
Parking lots and garages pose unique risks that you do not usually encounter on the streets and highways. These are smaller and more enclosed areas in which there are multiple vehicles circling around looking for spots. In many parking garages, lighting is also poor, and it is difficult to see what is ahead. To add to all this, there is always lots of foot traffic by necessity as people walk to and from their vehicles.
Accidents in parking lots and garages could be between two vehicles that collide (such as two cars backing into each other), between a vehicle and a pedestrian, or between a vehicle and a bicyclist or motorcyclist. Many of these accidents are caused by one (or more) of the drivers involved, but pedestrians and others can also play a role. Sometimes, an outside party that was not directly involved in the accident may also share some of the blame.
Here are some of the most common reasons why parking lot accidents occur:
- Aggressive Driving: Stress is one of the major drivers of parking area accidents. People are always on the go trying to keep tight schedules, and when they enter a parking lot, they are usually trying to find a spot as quickly as possible. This causes people to drive through parking areas at unsafe speeds, putting pedestrians and others at greater risk. The stress most people are under during the holiday season only makes this problem worse.
- Distractions: An NSC public opinion poll showed that more than half of all motorists admit to texting, sending or receiving emails, and using social media while driving through parking lots and garages. This habit is not exclusive to drivers as a large number of pedestrians are also distracted by their smartphones.
- Negligent Maintenance: Many lots and garages are not adequately maintained. They contain potholes, uneven pavement, cracks in the cement, and similar issues. This can lead to many pedestrian injuries, which tend to be most serious among the elderly.
- Design Flaws: Some garages and lots are poorly designed. They either lack proper signage or the signs are too confusing for most people to understand. And as mentioned earlier, poor lighting is often an issue in many of these places, making it harder to see and putting the security of patrons at greater risk.
When someone gets hurt in a parking lot accident, recovering compensation can be a complicated process. There are often multiple parties that may share the blame, and an extensive investigation is necessary in order to uncover all of the facts and key pieces of evidence and get to the bottom of what happened.
Insurance companies will often make things more difficult by trying to minimize the amount they have to pay out when their client is responsible for an injury. One tactic they may use is to try to pin some of the blame on the injured party, which would reduce the amount of compensation they are entitled to under Kentucky’s comparative negligence laws. To ensure that your legal right to compensation is fully protected, it is best to retain the services of an experienced attorney as soon as possible after the accident.
Injured in a Parking Lot Accident in Kentucky? Call John H Ruby and Associates for Legal Help
If you or a loved one was injured in a parking lot or garage accident in the Louisville, LaGrange, Shepherdsville or Shelbyville, KY areas, call John H. Ruby and Associates at 502-895-2626 or message us online for a free consultation. We will meet with you to fully assess your case and advise you of your legal rights and options.