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Parking Lots: the Unsung Pedestrian Crash Zone

By Ross Jurewitz on June 7, 2018

As pedestrians in Southern California, we’re trained to watch out for danger when walking down busy streets or crossing intersections. But people are unaware that one of the most threatening spots for pedestrians is a…PARKING LOT. With so many people getting in and out of cars, and so many vehicles turning around tight corners and backing up, collisions can come from any direction if you aren’t careful.

What’s even more frustrating, automobile insurers will frequently attempt to undervalue injury claims that result from parking lot accidents. Their reasoning? “The vehicle wasn’t moving very fast, so you couldn’t have been very badly injured.” Bull.

That’s why you need an experienced San Diego pedestrian injury attorney who understands how the insurance companies think—and who won’t settle for less than you deserve.

The Statistics Paint a Frightening Picture

Gregory M. Fayard (an economist with the Bureau of Labor Statistics) published a report that looked at work-related fatal injuries in parking lots from 1993 to 2002. This groundbreaking study found that pedestrian deaths accounted for 13% of all accidents that took place in parking lots. And a 2010 report from the BLS on fatal occupational injuries that involved pedestrians being hit by a motor vehicle showed that 126 of the 277 deaths took place in a parking lot—nearly half.

Even more horrifying, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 22% of children between 5 and 9 who were killed in traffic crashes were pedestrians. In the majority of these cases, the drivers reported being unable to see the children while their vehicles were in reverse.

Parking lots are the site of many tragic and avoidable accidents. Yet, not enough has been done to improve their design and make them safer for pedestrians and drivers alike.

Safety Tips for Pedestrians in Parking Lots

While the law is meant to protect victims of car accidents, including pedestrians, it is always better to avoid collisions whenever possible. No amount of money can make up for your life being ruined by serious injuries. This is why we strongly encourage everyone to take precautions when walking through parking lots.

First of all, as a pedestrian, don’t assume that you’ve been seen until you make eye contact with the driver. This means that even when you are at a designated crosswalk, act as if the car has the right of way. Wait until any vehicles have come to a stop before crossing.

Another significant hazard is being hit by vehicles that are backing up out of spaces. The natural tendency is to walk along the line of cars so that passing vehicles have plenty of room. But this means that drivers who may be reversing out of a spot will have less of an angle to see you. It’s recommended that you walk down the center of lanes to make yourself as visible as possible.

If you are a parent, be extra cautious with your children in parking lots. It can be very difficult for drivers to see small children, so you need to keep them by your side at all times and not let them run ahead or weave in between cars.

In general, it’s best to walk defensively. Remain focused and alert, and stay off your mobile phone. Don’t text; don’t listen to music that will distract you; don’t take your eyes off of your surroundings. Look out for vehicles and try to anticipate what drivers may do—like back up suddenly. At night or during bad weather, give drivers even more leeway. Remember, just because you can see them doesn’t mean they’re looking out for you.

You Aren’t to Blame for Getting Hit by a Car

While it’s always wise to take precautions to avoid accidents, it’s important to remember that most pedestrians who are hit by cars are the VICTIMS. Insurance companies will often try and paint victims as somehow culpable for their own injuries, but parking lot danger is a well-identified problem that needs to be addressed to prevent more people from getting hurt. And being hit by a “slow” vehicle doesn’t necessarily hurt a victim any less!

A study from Robson Forensic examined the causes and prevalence of parking lot accidents and made a series of recommendations for how parking lot designers and owners can prevent accidents through thoughtful design solutions. Their proposals—separate pedestrian and vehicle circulation, provide adequate lighting, and erect clear signage and crosswalk markings—would go a long way to protecting pedestrians from tragic accidents.

In addition to negligent drivers, when property owners fail to protect their visitors and customers, they may be responsible for any accidents that happen as a result. If you or a loved one has been injured in a parking lot accident, seek out a qualified and diligent San Diego premises liability attorney at Jurewitz Law Group who can act on your behalf. We do the work to make sure you are fully compensated for your medical bills. Call (888) 233-5020 today for a free consultation and see if we can help you.

Ross Jurewitz

Ross Jurewitz is the founder and managing lawyer of the Jurewitz Law Group, a San Diego personal injury attorney law firm. These San Diego injury accident lawyers specialize in helping people seriously injured in a variety of accidents throughout San Diego County and California.

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