Drivers sometimes have a false sense of safety in parking lots. Because cars move more slowly, they may innately assume the need to be alert lessens. Unfortunately, that misunderstanding can lead to accidents. Parking lots are often heavy with foot traffic and other vehicles, and not everyone abides by traffic laws. If you suffered an injury in a parking lot crash and someone else is at fault, you would benefit from speaking with a parking lot accident lawyer about the legal options available in your case and how you can get the compensation you need.
What To Do After a Parking Lot Accident
What you do in the aftermath of a collision can affect your ability to recover all the damages you suffered. For example, if you hit a parked car, panicked, and drove away, the repercussions could be far worse than if you had stayed and attempted to find the vehicle’s owner. If you come out to the parking lot and find that someone hit your vehicle, look for evidence around you. For example, are there any other cars in the parking lot with damage? Does the parking lot have security cameras? Did anyone nearby see what happened? Investigate while you wait for the police to arrive
In cases where both parties are present during the collision, whether they are both vehicles or a pedestrian is involved, some general steps to follow in the immediate aftermath include:
- Calling 911 if anyone needs emergency medical care
- Contacting the police to report the accident
- Avoiding talking to anyone other than the police about what happened
- Taking photographs of the damage to both vehicles and any visible injuries on your body
- Asking the other driver for their contact and insurance information
- Collecting names and contact information from eyewitnesses
Finally, consider speaking with a parking lot accident attorney as soon as possible to work out the details of your case, especially if you suffered substantial losses, including damage to your property and bodily injury.
Common Types of Parking Lot Accidents
Parking lot collisions can happen under various circumstances and involve multiple parties, including bicyclists and pedestrians. However, some of the most common types of parking lot accidents include:
- Two vehicles backing into one another typically occur when both drivers back out of a parking space simultaneously, rear-ending each other. In these cases, both parties usually cover their own damages.
- Backing out of a parking spot and colliding with a car driving down the lane is almost always the fault of the person backing up.
- Parking t-bone collisions occur when a car in oncoming traffic hits another vehicle turning left out of a parking lot or into a parking space. The driver turning left is responsible for ensuring safe turning conditions and would, therefore, be at fault in that case.
- Rear-end collisions often occur in parking lot lanes when one driver stops suddenly, causing the driver behind them to crash. This would almost always be the fault of the person following too closely behind the other driver.
- Pedestrian accidents occur when someone strikes a pedestrian with their vehicle in the parking lot. Fault can belong to either party depending on whether either violated traffic laws. In most cases, pedestrians have the right of way in a parking lot.
More potential accident situations could occur in a parking lot, and each has unique circumstances that the law considers. Speak with an attorney to learn more about options specific to your case.
Fault in a Parking Lot Accident Case
Every state mandates auto accident laws applicable to collision cases. For example, Utah sets a four-year statute of limitations on your ability to file a personal injury lawsuit after an auto accident. However, to collect compensation for property damage, you must file within three years of the collision. Some other important Utah laws include the no-fault insurance requirement and the comparative negligence rule.
No-Fault Insurance in Utah
Utah is one of only a few states that follow the no-fault auto insurance rule, mandating that licensed drivers with a vehicle carry personal injury protection coverage. The state places the financial responsibility for injuries caused by a car accident on the injured person’s own PIP insurance. This eliminates the issue of fault in a collision and allows the victim a direct avenue to compensation. PIP insurance typically covers medical bills, lost income from missed work, and replacement services you may need to help with transportation or housework while you heal.
Utah Threshold for Injury
No-fault auto insurance does not cover all damages, namely damaged property and non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering. Like most states, Utah has a legal threshold for injury that allows victims to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, bypassing the no-fault auto insurance requirement. To qualify, you must accumulate a minimum of $3,000 in medical bills and have injuries that cause dismemberment, permanent disability, disfigurement, or impairment.
Comparative Negligence in Utah
If you file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, the most common response presented by the defense is the shared fault. The driver may argue that you contributed to the accident somehow and should therefore share responsibility for damages. Utah recognizes this argument and applies the comparative negligence rule to determine what each party must pay. The basis of comparative negligence entails:
- The court determines a percentage of fault for each party.
- The court determines the total financial cost of damages.
- The court then deducts an amount equal to the plaintiff’s percentage of fault from the total award.
Because Utah follows the modified comparative negligence rule rather than the pure form, the plaintiff cannot receive compensation if their percentage of fault exceeds the defendant’s portion. For example, if the court determines you are 60% responsible for the accident, you can no longer receive an award. However, if you are 40% at fault, you will receive the total value of damages minus 40%, giving you 60% of the total.
Hiring a Utah Parking Lot Accident Lawyer for Your Case
More than half of all personal injury cases involve some form of an auto accident, making most personal injury lawyers experts in auto accident law. While not all accidents warrant legal representation, you have nothing to lose from speaking with an attorney about the details of your case. They can help you understand your rights to compensation and advise you on the next steps you should take. If you suffered significant injuries in a parking lot accident caused by someone else’s negligence, there are some advantages to having legal representation. For example, a parking lot accident lawyer will:
- Handle negotiations for a settlement
- Prepare the case for trial if necessary
- Conduct an independent investigation into the accident to look for evidence of fault
- Talk to the insurance company for you
- Prepare all the paperwork
- Identify and value the damages you could recover
- Gather all the necessary documents to prove damages
- Ensure no one violates your rights
If you team up with the experienced lawyers at Siegfried and Jensen, you can trust that we will fight to secure fair compensation and help you get your life back on track. We have more than 30 years of experience in personal injury, equipping us with knowledge of Utah auto accident laws and the skills needed to deal with insurance companies. Contact us today for your free consultation. We offer information without obligation.