A driver who is backing out of a parking space has an obligation to look both ways and yield right of way to cars traveling in the lane the driver is attempting to back into. If two cars collide while both are attempting to back out of a parking space, neither has the right of way and they may be held equally at fault.
Right of way is important in an accident because the driver who did not have the right of way is usually held legally responsible for any injuries or damage that occurs. Even when cars are backing up at a slow speed, a collision can cause significant vehicle damage and painful injuries.
What are the right of way rules for backing out of parking spaces?
The general rule is that a car that is traveling straight down a lane next to a parking space has the right of way. Drivers who are backing out of parking spaces have a duty to look in all directions to make sure it is safe to pull out. If the driver can’t see because of another car or other obstacle, the driver should ease out of the parking space until it is possible to determine whether it is safe to pull out all the way.
Because the driver who is backing up does NOT have the right of way, the driver backing out of a space will usually be at fault for hitting another vehicle or pedestrian.
Is an accident always the fault of the driver who is backing up?
There are some instances where the driver backing up may not be at fault, including these:
- The other driver was speeding
- The other driver or pedestrian was cutting across the parking lot in an erratic or unpredictable way
- The accident occurred because the other driver was distracted
- The accident occurred because the other driver was drunk
- A hazard in the parking lot caused the accident
In addition, it is common for accidents to occur when two drivers are backing out of opposite parking spaces at the same time. In these accidents, both drivers have a duty to look and wait until it is safe to pull out. It is typical for both drivers to be held equally at fault.
What should I do if I am in a parking lot accident?
It can be hard to prove who is at fault in a parking lot accident because most parking lots are privately operated and police typically do not respond to the scene. That makes it important to collect some evidence on your own. We recommend:
- Take pictures of the scene. Get photos of the damage to the cars and the overall scene. If there were hazards that reduced visibility or otherwise contributed to the accident, be sure to photograph those as well.
- Talk to witnesses who saw the accident or the other driver’s behavior just before the accident. Get their names and phone numbers so you can follow up if you need to.
- Exchange driver’s license, license plate and insurance information with the other driver.
- Make a police report. The police report will document what happened and is an important part of any insurance claim.
Whatever you do, don’t say the accident was your fault. Even in a simple parking lot accident, fault may depend on many factors, and you don’t want to be held responsible for an accident you didn’t cause.
To protect your rights, we also recommend that you see a doctor and a lawyer as soon as you can after the accident. A doctor can check you out for any injuries. An Atlanta car accident lawyer can evaluate what happened in the accident and tell you if you might have a claim. A lawyer knows how to get the other driver’s insurance company to pay you the most money possible for your injuries.
Talk to an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer for Free
Our lawyers handle parking accidents every day, and we’ve built an impressive track record. We never charge you money unless we win money for you. Let us give you a FREE consultation to show you how we can get you the money you need. Call us at (404) 341-6555 or fill out the form to the right to get your free consultation today.