When you were a little kid, your parents probably made you hold their hand as you walked through parking lots. They did for a good reason: parking lots are incredibly dangerous. There are few other places with pedestrians walking through an area where many vehicles are backing up — and many drivers are distracted.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2017 alone, 5,977 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle accidents. An additional 137,000 pedestrians were treated in emergency departments after being struck by a vehicle. One study found that up to 30% of pedestrian accidents in a single year occurred in parking lots.
Parking lot pedestrian accidents have the potential to result in serious injuries — or even death. Pedestrians who are hit by cars may be entitled to compensation for their injuries. A skilled San Rafael pedestrian accident attorney can help, starting with a free consultation.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Parking Lot Accidents
There is a good reason that many drivers’ education instructors warn their students about the risks of parking lots. Each year, tens of thousands of collisions happen in parking lots and garages, causing thousands of injuries and hundreds of fatalities. There are a number of reasons why parking lots are so dangerous.
In 2016, the National Safety Council (NSC) conducted a poll on distracted driving. The poll found that 66% of drivers across the United States would make calls while driving through parking lots. Poll respondents also stated that they would program GPS systems (63%), text (56%), use social media (52%), send or receive emails (50%), or take photos or watch videos (49%) — all while driving through a parking lot.
Beyond distracted driving, there are a number of reasons why car accidents happen so frequently in parking lots. Motorists may:
- Back up without looking
- Speed in an attempt to get to a parking spot before someone else takes it
- Drive the wrong direction down a lane
- Fail to stop at stop signs or crosswalks
- Stop short
- Look for a parking space, instead of watching for pedestrians
Of course, pedestrians may also share some blame for pedestrian parking lot accidents. When walking through a parking lot, people are often distracted — thinking about what they need to pick up at the store, processing news that they received at the doctor’s office, or even using their own phones. But in parking lots, the ultimate responsibility lies with the driver, particularly because the injuries from a pedestrian accident can be so severe.
When a car, truck, or SUV hits a person, they may suffer a number of serious injuries. Even a low-speed crash may lead to pedestrian injuries such as:
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Soft tissue injuries
- Nerve damage
- Neck and back injuries
In far too many cases, pedestrians die after being hit by a vehicle. That is why it is so important for every driver to do whatever they can to avoid auto accidents — particularly when driving through parking lots.
Can I Sue the Driver Who Hit Me?
If you are hit by a car in a parking lot, then you may be able to file a lawsuit against the driver who struck you. An experienced California personal injury law firm can help you with the process.
Personal injury cases — like pedestrian accidents — are typically based on a theory of negligence, which is the failure to use the care that a reasonable person would in a similar situation. If you can prove that the driver was negligent, then you may be able to recover compensation for any losses that you suffered in the accident.
Negligence has four elements:
- Duty: the driver owed a duty to you to operate their motor vehicle with caution
- Breach: the driver breached (violated) that duty in some way
- Causation: the breach was the but for, or proximate, cause of the accident
- Damages: you suffered injuries as a result
For example, Emma was walking through a parking lot on your way to the grocery store. Jack backed up without looking and hit Emma. She suffered several broken bones and a brain injury in the accident. In this case, Jack violated his duty to Emma by failing to look before reversing, and this failure led to the accident. Emma was injured because of Jack’s breach.
Damages in a personal injury lawsuit may include compensation for medical bills, lost wages, reduced earning capacity, future medical treatment, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and other losses. In rare cases, punitive damages may also be available. This type of damages is meant to punish a wrongdoer, and deter others from engaging in similar conduct.
What Should I Do If I Am Hit By a Car in a Parking Lot?
If you are hit by a car in a parking lot, the first and most important thing to do is seek medical attention immediately. If you can, dial 911, or ask someone to call it for you. Even if you think that your injuries were minor, it is important to get checked out by a doctor to make sure that you are OK.
If you are able to do so, get information from the driver. At a minimum, ask for their name, phone number, and insurance information. You can also get contact information from any witnesses. If the police arrive at the scene, they may gather this information for you.
Taking pictures and videos of the scene and your injuries is also a good idea, if possible. Doing this helps to preserve evidence, and may even make it easier to track down witnesses and the driver.
Finally, do not apologize to the driver or give a statement to their insurance adjuster until after you have spoken with a California personal injury attorney. Keep in mind that the goal of the insurance company is to pay as little as possible for your claim. Anything that you say to the driver, adjuster or another representative of the insurer could be used against you. Your lawyer’s job is to protect your interests — and to help you get the maximum compensation possible.
Hurt in a Pedestrian Accident? We’re Here for You.
There are few things more devastating than being hit by a car when you are simply going about your daily life. This type of accident can be incredibly traumatic and may cause serious injuries. In this situation, you need a personal injury lawyer to advocate for your right to compensation.
Based in San Rafael, Kuvara Law Firm represents clients throughout Northern California. We are dedicated to helping our clients obtain the best possible result for their personal injury claim. To learn more or to schedule a free case evaluation, call us today at 1-800-4-INJURY, or fill out our online contact form.