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Parking lots and garages are a convenience in the United States that help us clear the roads of traffic-congesting obstacles. Parking areas may be flat single-level lots or towering multiplexes that hold myriads of vehicles. Whatever the case may be, many automobile accidents occur in these congested lots. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 20 percent of all accidents occur in parking lots.
Most Common Causes for Parking Lot Accidents
The accidents usually occur due to complacency. Drivers feel comfortable texting, making phone calls, rifling through a purse, or searching for other items in their vehicles when they are pulling into and out of parking lots. They think that the low speeds make it safe to multitask. They fail to consider how many shoppers are walking nearby with small children in strollers and groups of kids running ahead of them. As a result, thousands of people are killed each year in parking lot car accidents.
In addition to distracted drivers, car lots can also be in disrepair or lack features that altogether create an unnecessary risk of an accident. Parking garages that are dimly lit, deteriorating, slippery, lacking clear traffic signs, or lacking suitable handrails in stairwells are liable for damages when someone is injured as a result of the defect. The defects have to be severe enough that the owner and staff could reasonably foresee the dangers if you want to prove their negligence in court.
For example, some SUVs and trucks may be too tall to fit in parking garages. The garage can be held liable if they do not have maximum clearance signs that accurately disclose the allowable height limits.
Many high-priced parking garages will not let you park your vehicle by yourself. They have valet service to ensure that every vehicle is professionally parked, thereby, eliminating any ambiguity. Any damage is noted before the vehicle is parked to ensure that there are no disputes later on.
What Options Do I Have if I am Injured in a Parking Lot?
If you are involved in a parking lot or parking garage accident, you have more options than you think. In many cases, legal loans are available to help you handle the immediate impact of an accident when injuries are the most critical. A legal loan removes the stress and worries about paying the bills, obtaining adequate medical care, and missing time from work. A legal loan lets you recover and hold out for larger awards when the defendants try to drag things out in court. In most cases, you will only qualify for a legal loan if the lawsuit is against the insurance company of a commercial property or car driver.
Your first step is to find a lawyer immediately after the accident. The attorney can file a motion that forces a parking garage or lot to retain any footage of the accident if it is available. Most places will claim that they recorded over the footage if you do not make an official claim in time to preserve it. Your attorney will look at all the evidence and the elements of the legal theories involved. You may have a case for premises liability or personal injury from a car accident.
Some car garages may have indemnification waivers that hold them unaccountable if your vehicle is damaged by someone else in the lot. Damages may still be recoverable if the cause of the accident can be directly traced to poor upkeep or management. You should take pictures and record video footage of the circumstances immediately following an accident. This will make a record of hazardous conditions and hold the proprietor responsible. You should also do a video interview with any witnesses and make sure that the police come to the scene and file an official report. The narrative can change quickly once a lawsuit is filed even if the defendant takes full responsibility at the time.
You will also want to refrain from speaking with insurance adjusters or anyone regarding your claims. All questions should be directed to your attorney. In addition, you will not want to release any online public information about your health condition. Even a misleading photo that shows you smiling and engaged in strenuous activity can be used to undermine your claims. Finally, you want to document all your expenses, including medical bills, and ensure that the full extent of your injuries is well-documented to obtain the maximum awards.