Average Parking Lot Accident Settlement
Parking lot accidents happen countless times every day that involve property damage and/or personal injuries. According to the National Safety Council, there are hundreds of people killed in parking lot crashes each year, and the problem is growing. The Council found that 500 people died and 60,000 were hurt in parking lot accidents in 2015 alone.
This article describes common accidents in parking lot, who is at fault, how a settlement amount is determined, and how to get the best settlement.
Common Parking Lot Accidents
One of the most frequent accidents in a parking lot is where the driver is backing out of a parking space and hits another vehicle, which may be either parked or moving. Usually, the driver who is backing out is found at fault, unless two cars were backing out at the same time and hit each other. In that case, fault is usually shared between the two drivers.
Typically an accident where you hit a car that is legally parked will result in you being found at
fault. This includes backing into a car that is parked, hitting a car with your door, or hitting it while you are driving in the parking lot.
Another common accident is where two vehicles are aiming for the same parking space and hit each other. This will often be a shared fault situation. But in many cases, the driver that has to cross the flow of parking lot traffic to get to the space may be found at fault. So this scenario is not as clear.
It also is common for drivers to hit parked cars and leave the accident scene. This is a hit and run and can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor in most cases where no injuries were involved. It also is important for drivers to watch out for pedestrians in a parking lot.
One advantage of having an accident in a parking lot: If there is any controversy about fault, it is very easy to collect accident evidence. Many parking lots now have video surveillance. It is usually easy to obtain a copy of the video and send it to the insurance company to determine fault.
Determining Fault in Parking Lot Accidents
Just as with any car accident, insurance companies in a parking lot crash will take statements and conduct an investigation. The company will consider all of the damages to vehicles to determine who is liable. Parking lot accidents are governed by fault determination rules that insurance adjusters will consult to determine who is responsible for the accident. The best policy when talking to insurance adjusters about the accident is to fully cooperate and provide accurate information.
However, if you think that you have been wrongly found at fault for the accident, you can appeal the company’s decision. Sometimes a third party mediator will be brought in to make a fair determination about the claim.
When the adjuster is looking the parking lot accident insurance claim, there are two major factors to consider:
- Was your vehicle moving? If your car was not moving and was hit by another vehicle, it is clear that liability is with the other driver. This assumes that your vehicle was legally parked.
- Who had right of way? If both vehicles were in motion, determining fault gets more complicated. It comes down to the issue of right of way. If the parking lot is clearly marked and laid out, there should be markings on the ground, as well as stop, yield and speed limit signs that make the rules clear in the lot. But if a driver does not follow the rules, then he or she is at fault. If the parking lot rules are not clear, then fault can vary depending upon the unique circumstances of the incident.
Parking Lot Accident Settlement
The biggest question most people have after any car accident with property damage and/or injury is: How much money will I get?
It is difficult to say with certainty how much you can get in a parking lot accident, given the many variables involved. However, what can be said is that with proper analysis, it is possible to get a good idea of what a case may be worth, how much of that money will go to you, how long it will take, and what the average settlement is for various types of accidents and injuries.
First, to determine what your case might be worth, let’s look at a typical settlement formula that attorneys and insurance companies use:
- Past medical costs
- Future medical costs
- Past lost wages
- Future lost wages
- Damages for pain and suffering
- Property damage
All you need to do is to add up these numbers and arrive at a figure. However, this is much easier said than done in some accidents. It is easy oftentimes to add up medical expenses and lost wages in simple, minor parking lot accidents. But what about pain and suffering in more serious accidents? How does one assign a dollar figure to that?
In some accidents, the insurance company may use a software program to compute the settlement formula, including pain and suffering. But it is not surprising to learn that the settlement amount that the insurance company’s computer puts out does not always match the true value of your injuries.
In a parking lot crash with serious injuries – such as when a speeding car hits a pedestrian – a computer system coming up with a number for pain and suffering is usually very low and unfair.
With more serious accidents in parking lots, it is smart to run your case by a personal injury attorney. The attorney is experienced in many types of car accidents, and will usually be able to make a fair estimate of the potential settlement for your case.
How Much You Get After Fees and Expenses
Another factor in your parking lot settlement amount is what you really get. There are two types of major expenses involved in personal injury claims:
- Attorneys’ fees: Attorneys’ fees should be clearly explained in the retainer agreement you sign. For many attorneys, the fee is 33% of the amount recovered if it settles before a suit is filed, and 40% of the amount recovered if the case is settled after a claim is filed. Any expenses that the attorney fronted during the claim or trial are paid back out of that contingency fee.
- Medical liens and medical bills: You will need to pay back any healthcare providers who provided your care. On the majority of medical bills, you can opt to pay for your medical expenses out of the settlement. A good personal injury attorney will continue to work after the settlement or verdict to ensure that medical bills and liens are reduced as much as can be.
Past Parking Lot Settlements
Here are some previous parking lot accident settlements that attorneys around the country have won for their clients. Your potential settlement could be much higher or lower:
- $42,000: A client was leaving a parking lot in Rhode Island when the defendant hit her in the rear passenger side of her vehicle at an intersection. The woman suffered soft tissue injuries to her shoulder, pelvis, back, arm and leg. The attorney established that the defendant was liable as he failed to see her at the intersection.
- High six figures: A client in Oregon was hurt in a low speed parking lot crash. At the trial, the defendant said that the client couldn’t have been hurt in such a minor accident. The injury was to the spine. The jury awarded a confidential sum that was in above $500,000 but lower than $1 million.
- $1.45 million: A woman was pinned between two cars in a parking lot and was unable to walk normally or work. The attorney filed the claim with the woman’s insurance company, who denied the claim. The jury awarded her 10 times the value of the policy.
Remember to talk to a personal injury attorney about your accident injuries to get an idea what your claim might be worth.
Avoiding Parking Lot Car Accidents
Parking lots have many cars and pedestrians and a lot of things are moving at once. Visibility is limited due to all of the parked vehicles. So it is important for drivers to always be cautious in parking lots.
Always drive slowly and proceed with caution in parking lots. Back up slowly and always look for pedestrians, especially children. Watch out for cars driving too fast around blind corners and not slowing down.
It also can be hard to see when you are backing from a spot next to a big truck or van. Be sure to back up very slowly so you can avoid accidents.
It also is very important for drivers to not be using smart phones while they are driving in parking lots. Some drivers think that because they are driving slowly, it is okay to be less cautious. In reality, it is almost as dangerous to be driving distracted at 5 MPH as it is at 50 MPH. Putting away the cell phone until the car is parked is the safest option.