Parking Lot Accidents in New York: Who Is At Fault and How to Determine It

Parking Lot Accidents in New York: Who Is At Fault and How to Determine It
Calendar icon September 30, 2022

Various factors can contribute to parking lot accidents in New York. Drivers may be speeding through the lot, driving under the influence, or driving while distracted. While parking lots are areas where drivers tend to drive slowly and the chances to hit someone are low, accidents can still happen.

So what happens if you’re involved in a parking lot accident, and how is fault determined?

What Are Some Common Parking Lot Accidents?

Despite being an area where vehicles are often moving more slowly, a surprising amount of accidents happen in parking lots. From fender benders to deadly crashes, Thousands of accidents occur in parking lots each year. These are the most common types of parking lot accidents to be aware of:

  • Backing out of a parking space: This type of accident is particularly common in small parking lots with tight spaces. If you accidentally hit a parked vehicle while backing out of a space, make sure to leave a note or inform the police, as fleeing the scene is a criminal offense.
  • Pulling out in front of a moving vehicle: Drivers who are exiting a parking space must yield to oncoming traffic, so it is best to exercise caution while pulling out or backing out of a parking space.
  • Two drivers backing into each other: In some cases, two drivers will attempt to back out of their spots at the same time, which causes a collision.
  • Driver is cutting through parking spaces: Occasionally, drivers will cut through empty parking spaces instead of driving in the designated lanes. If the driver does not see oncoming traffic, they can cause a t-bone collision.

How is Fault Determined in Parking Lot Accidents in New York

Traffic accidents in parking lots, just like the ones happening on the street, are subject to an insurance company’s fault determination rules and the guidelines that insurance adjusters use to decide which driver is liable.

While each case comes with its own set of unique circumstances, here are a few general rules of thumb in regards to determining fault in a parking lot accident:

Parking Lot Right Of Way Rules

In most parking lots, there are multiple lanes with cars parked on both sides with and through lanes around the lot’s perimeter, which allow drivers to enter the parking lanes.

Cars driving in the through lanes have the right-of-way, and drivers approaching from parking lanes must yield. If a driver pulls into a through lane attempting to exit a parking lane and collides with a vehicle in the through lane, the driver in the parking lane would be liable.

However, if a driver in a through lane fails to obey a stop or yield sign that gives right-of-way to drivers exiting a parking lane, the driver in the through lane would be held liable.

Pulling Into or Out of Parking Spaces

When backing out of or pulling out of a parking space, any cars traveling in the parking lane have the right of way. Therefore, any person who collides with another car or pedestrian in the parking lane will likely be found at fault for the accident.

In the event that two vehicles collide while exiting their respective parking spaces, liability can be more difficult to determine. As both cars have the responsibility to ensure their surroundings are safe before exiting, both parties can be found liable for the accident.

How To Avoid Parking Lot Crashes If You’re a Driver

To help decrease your chance of getting into an accident in a parking lot, it’s important to stay alert and exercise caution. Here are a few easy tips to follow:

  • Drive slowly in designated lanes through the lot
  • Obey directional flow arrows, if present
  • Don’t park in a tight space if you do not have a compact car
  • Park in-between the lines of the parking space and never double park
  • Look in both directions when backing up, and use your rear-view or back up camera
  • Park in a spot where you can exit safely

Contact Cellino Law Today for a Free Consultation

If you were injured in an accident at a parking lot, regardless of if you were a pedestrian or in a vehicle, make sure you seek medical help as soon as possible. Your next step should be contacting a personal injury lawyer who has experience handling New York parking lot accidents.

Our team at Cellino Law understands that each parking lot accident case is unique, which is why we offer a free and confidential case consultation to answer any questions you may have regarding your accident. To get started, call our team today at 800-555-5555.



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