The holiday season is upon us, and this is the time of year when people are out and about shopping, going out to restaurants, going to parties, and getting together with family and friends. With this increased activity comes increased traffic in parking lots and parking garages. And this heightens the risk of accidents and injuries in these areas.
Parking area accidents happen a lot more frequently than most people realize. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), more than 50,000 collisions occur in parking lots and garages each year, resulting in more than 500 deaths and tens of thousands of serious injuries. Overall, between 20% and 25% of all traffic-related accidents in the United States occur in parking areas.
Many people assume that parking lots and garages are safer than the roadways because we drive through them more slowly. While this may be true, there are some unique hazards that exist in these areas. Lots and garages are relatively compact and enclosed areas where it is often darker and more difficult to see where you are going. In addition, there is a higher concentration of foot traffic as people walk to and from their vehicles. During the holidays, traffic in these areas becomes even more of an issue.
Common Causes of Parking Lot and Garage Accidents
There are a number of different types of parking area crashes. Collisions can occur between two vehicles (for example, two cars backing up at the same time), or a vehicle could collide with a motorcycle, bicycle, or pedestrian that is passing by. Accidents can also happen without a vehicle involved, such as if a pedestrian trips and falls over a hidden crack in the pavement.
There are several factors that commonly contribute to parking area accidents, these include:
- Speeding/Reckless Driving: Many people are under continual stress because of their busy lives. So, when they enter a parking lot or garage, they want to get a spot as quickly as possible. The problem becomes worse during the holiday season, when people are in even more of a hurry and parking spaces fill up faster.
- Distractions: Distracted driving is a major problem these days, and data from the NSC shows that more than half of all drivers send texts, emails, and social media messages when they are driving through parking areas. Pedestrians tend to be distracted by their smart phones as well, and this is another contributing factor in some of these accidents.
- Negligent Maintenance: Some accidents in parking garages and lots happen because of hazardous conditions; such as cracks, potholes, uneven pavement, debris, poor lighting, and similar problems.
- Faulty Designs: Some lots and garages have very poor designs. They have arrows and signs that point in multiple directions, making it confusing and difficult for patrons to navigate. Another issue is the size of the parking spots, which are sometimes too small for an average vehicle to get into and out of safely.
Parking area accident claims can be complex and challenging to pursue. There are several different parties that could be at fault; such as a motorist, motorcyclist, bicyclist, or a third party such as the owner/manager of the garage or lot. These types of accidents are further complicated by Virginia’s contributory negligence laws. Under contributory negligence, an injured party can be barred from recovering compensation if they share any fault at all in the underlying accident (even 1%).
For those who are injured in a parking lot or garage accident, it is extremely important to retain experienced legal counsel as soon as possible. The other side will almost certainly try to use Virginia’s defendant-friendly legal standard against you, and you need a strong advocate in your corner who is committed to protecting your rights and interests.
Injured in a Parking Area Accident in Virginia? Contact Schilling & Esposito for Assistance
If you or someone close to you suffered injury in a parking lot or parking garage, you may be entitled to compensation. To find out if you have a valid claim, call Schilling and Esposito today at 804-320-0950 or message us online to schedule a free consultation with a member of our attorneys. We will meet with you to thoroughly assess your case and advise you of your legal rights and options, so you can make the most informed decision on how you wish to proceed.