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Your Guide to Parking Lot Accidents in California

A parking lot can be a hectic place. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that nearly 20 percent of all motor vehicle collisions in the United States happen in parking lots. While many of these crashes are relatively minor fender benders, there are some parking lot collisions that can lead to serious harm. At Redkey Gordon Law Corp, we help victims get justice. Here, our Stockton auto accident attorney provides a guide to parking lot crash liability in California. 

The Most Common Reasons Why Parking Lot Accidents Happen

Motor vehicle collisions happen on a regular basis in parking lots in Stockton. Some of these crashes occur when one driver strikes a parked vehicle. Other collisions involve two vehicles hitting each other. Still other parking lot accidents happen when a motorist hits a pedestrian or a bicyclist. These accidents can occur for a wide variety of different reasons. Some of the most common reasons why parking lot crashes happen include: 

  • Distracted Driving: One of the top causes of parking lot accidents is distracted driving. Drivers often underestimate the attention required in parking lots. They may use their cell phones or otherwise take their attention off the road. Distracted driving is dangerous driving. The lack of focus is a big safety risk—even in a parking lot. 
  • Speeding: Despite the confined space, some drivers speed through parking lots, eager to find a spot or exit quickly. High speeds reduce reaction time and make it difficult to stop for crossing pedestrians or unexpected vehicle movements. Speeding is especially dangerous in a densely packed, fast-changing, and pedestrian-heavy parking lot. 
  • Reversing Vehicles: A large number of parking lot mishaps occur during the act of reversing. Drivers may have limited visibility or might not check their surroundings thoroughly before backing out of a spot. Collisions often occur when two cars reverse into each other or when one vehicle hits a passing car.
  • Poorly Designed Parking Lots: Inadequate parking lot designs can contribute significantly to accidents. Narrow driving lanes, unclear signage, and insufficient lighting make navigation difficult and increase the risk of accidents. Drivers may struggle to adhere to right-of-way rules or might not see other vehicles and obstacles. 
  • Low Lighting Conditions: Poor lighting in parking lots can significantly increase the likelihood of accidents, especially during the early morning or late evening hours. Drivers may not be able to see other vehicles, pedestrians, or signage clearly. 

Parking Lot Collisions are Fault-Based Cases

California is a fault-based motor vehicle accident state. That is true for collisions that happen on roadways and collisions that occur within private areas, such as parking lots. In effect, the party—often but not always a driver—who caused the crash through negligence can be held legally responsible for the resulting damages. Every serious collision within a parking lot requires a thorough investigation. Here is an example: 

  • Imagine that a driver is backing out of a parking space at a retail store in Downtown Stockton. He or she collides with a car driving down the lane. The driver who was backing out did not check their rear-view mirror before moving out of the space. In California, backing up without yield the right-of-way is a negligence act. As such,the driver who failed to ensure it was safe to back out would typically be considered at fault. That motorist could be held legally responsible for the resulting damages.

California is a pure comparative fault state. The law recognizes that multiple parties may share legal liability for the same parking lot collision. In these types of cases, the parties will be legally liable for their “share” of the fault for the parking lot accident. For example, imagine that you sustained $10,000 in damages in a parking lot crash in Stockton. However, you were found 20 percent liable for your own crash. Under state law, you would be liable for 20 percent of your damages ($2,000). 

Holding the Business Owner/Property Owner Liable

Most parking lot accident claims are brought against negligent drivers. With that being said, other parties—including a business or a property owner—could potentially bear full or partial liability for a parking lot crash. In California, businesses and property owners have a legal duty to ensure that their premises—including their parking lots—are in reasonably safe condition for visitors. The duty includes regular maintenance, proper lighting, clear signage, and the removal of hazards that can contribute to collisions. 

As an example, imagine a parking lot owned by a shopping mall in Stockton. That parking lot has severely faded lane markings. It also has large potholes that have not been repaired despite known concerns. If those property defects contribute to a parking lot crash, the property owner may be responsible for a resulting collision. These are complicated cases. An experienced Stockton, CA premises liability attorney can help you navigate the claims process. 

Victims Deserve the Maximum Compensation

Hurt in a parking lot crash in Stockton or elsewhere San Joaquin County? You have the right to seek financial compensation for the full extent of your damages. Unfortunately, insurers can make the claims process very difficult for injured victims. Our Stockton parking lot accident lawyers help injured victims fight for the maximum settlement or verdict. Depending on the specific nature of your crash and the severity of your injuries, you may be entitled to recover compensation for: 

  • Vehicle repairs or replacement; 
  • Emergency medical care, including ambulance costs; 
  • Medical bills and other types of health care costs; 
  • Loss of wages and loss of future earning power; 
  • Pain and suffering & mental distress; 
  • Disability or disfigurement; and
  • Wrongful death of a family member. 

Contact Our Stockton, CA Car Crash Lawyers for a Free Case Review

At Redkey Gordon Law Corp, our Stockton personal injury lawyers are aggressive, experienced advocates for victims. We have recovered in excess of $25 million in compensation for our clients. Call us now or contact us online for your free case review. With a law office in Stockton, we handle parking lot collisions throughout the San Joaquin Valley region.