We spend plenty of time in them, yet people seem to forget that the rules of the road do not necessarily apply in a parking lot car accident. Indeed, the Revised Code of Washington Section 46.61, et seq. (titled “Rules of the Road”) states that the chapter specifically applies “exclusively to the operation of vehicles on highways.”
However, that does not mean that police are helpless when it comes to parking lots. After all, parking lots, while they may seem like it at times, are not the “wild west.” Police are allowed to enforce the laws regarding reckless driving, negligent driving, vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, and hit and run in a parking lot car accident. With that said, if the police are called for a parking lot car accident, experience has shown they will not respond because it occurred on private property. That means it is up to you to take the proper steps following a parking lot car accident if you want to get the best result possible for your personal injury claim.
SHOULD I SEEK Medical Assistance AFTER AN AUTO ACCIDENT?
If you are injured in a parking lot collision, you should always seek medical assistance, even if you aren’t experiencing any symptoms. Often the adrenaline, shock or trauma of a car accident can be overwhelming or confusing, masking the true nature of a person’s injuries. The first 72 hours are critical after a car accident or injury, so be sure to seek medical care as soon as possible, and follow up with all treatment recommendations. Taking careful notes on your treatment plan, documenting doctor visits and keeping medical bills and receipts are always a good idea.
HOW TO File A CAR Accident Report
Second, you will need to contact the manager of the store you were visiting and file an official accident report with them. You will also always want to obtain any insurance information from the driver who ran into you and/or your vehicle, and take photos of the damage done in the auto accident. Whether or not a police officer arrives on site after the accident, car accident reports should be completed online within four days of the collision.
hOW TO Obtain Security Camera Footage OF YOUR CAR ACCIDENT
Finally – and this is important – you will need to obtain any and all video footage from security cameras. This step is crucial because liability insurers almost always try to argue that the collision was your fault, at least partially. One way to effectively combat this assertion is to have video footage of the collision showing the location and exactly what happened. This needs to happen relatively quickly because not every store keeps security footage for very long. Sometimes the footage is deleted that day.
If you are unable because of your injuries to contact the store and obtain the footage, make sure you call Abeyta Nelson Injury Law so we can obtain the footage for you.
While exiting a store, it is also smart to stick to the painted walkways when navigating a parking lot. That way, if you are hit by a vehicle while on foot and crossing the parking lot, you can show that you were rightfully in the walkways, and not walking through a parking/driving lane. If you are hit while in the marked crosswalk you have a strong argument that you had the right-of-way.
At Abeyta Nelson Injury Law we handle all types of parking lot car accidents, whether the collision involves two vehicles or a vehicle and a pedestrian. In certain circumstances, it may also be possible to hold the owner of the parking lot liable for your injuries – these cases are known as premises liability cases.
While liability for parking lot collisions may be a bit harder to prove because the “rules of the road” do not apply, or there may be a lack of police investigation in most cases, if you follow the steps listed here, you can rest assured you have done everything in your power to preserve your claim for injuries.
If you or a family member have been injured in a parking lot car accident, contact us at Abeyta Nelson Injury Law. Remember, there is no charge to review your case with us and no fee unless you win your case.
-blog written by attorney Brett N. Goodman, Abeyta Nelson Injury Law