What Gainesville Drivers Need to Know About Parking Lot Crashes
Bill Allen | December 21, 2021 | Car Accidents
The term “car crash” brings to mind images of speeding cars smashing into each other. However, according to the National Safety Council, tens of thousands of crashes occur in parking lots each year, resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries.
Gainesville drivers should be aware of Florida’s “no-fault” system, accidents that may fall outside the “no-fault” system, and driver’s duties after parking lot crashes.
A No-Fault State
The vast majority of states in the U.S. follow a “fault” system for car accidents. In “fault” states, the driver who causes an accident is responsible for paying the losses of the other drivers.
This means that the other drivers can file a third-party claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance, though they’ll bear the responsibility of proving the at-fault driver is responsible for the accident.
Florida is one of the few states that follows a “no-fault” system. In a no-fault system, each driver is required to file their claims with their own insurers.
The insurer will pay the driver for their financial losses regardless of who caused the accident. The benefit of this system is that drivers do not have to worry about a claim getting denied by an insurer due to a dispute over blame.
Why Determination of Fault May Still Be Relevant
Even in a “no-fault” state, an accident with a high volume of damages may fall outside of the no-fault system.
An accident that results in serious injury that exceeds the PIP coverage limits will trigger questions of responsibility for the accident.
No-fault states will typically also have a statute defining types of significant injuries that will trigger the typical system of assigning fault.
In Florida, a significant injury includes those that result in a permanent injury, significant or permanent scarring, or disfigurement. While spinal cord, neck, and bone fracture injuries fall under this definition, the ambiguity of the definition can potentially lead to litigation.
Basics of Negligence
The tort law doctrine of negligence governs most traffic accidents. Under the theory of negligence, drivers are required to use reasonable care to avoid injuring other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.
Determining what behavior is considered to be reasonable is fact-specific. To assess what behavior is reasonable, an insurance representative will typically ask drivers for their versions of the story to determine what each driver’s duty was based on the circumstances.
Types of Parking Lot Accidents
Since the reasonable standard of care is based on the type of accident that occurred, each typical parking lot accident must be analyzed separately. Some of the more common types of accidents include:
A Driver Rear-Ends Another Driver Who Is Waiting for a Parking Spot
The driver behind has a duty to keep a safe distance from the driver in front. In this scenario, the driver behind is almost always determined to be at fault. A distracted driver in the tailing position is unlikely to have a viable defense.
A Driver Backs Out of a Parking Spot and Hits a Driver Going in a Through Lane
Through lanes are the roads that drivers make their way through when looking for a parking spot. Drivers in the through lanes have the right-of-way over drivers who are still in their parking spots.
Parked drivers have a duty to yield to the right-of-way of the drivers in the through lanes. Failure to do so will often result in the parked driver being found responsible for the accident.
A Driver Turning Left Hits an Oncoming Driver in the Through Lane
The oncoming driver has the right-of-way over the left-turn driver. Failure to yield to the oncoming driver will result in fault being assigned to the left-turn driver.
Two Vehicles Backing Out of Parking Spots into the Through Lane
Both drivers have a duty to make sure the area is reasonably safe before backing up. If one driver begins to back up, the other driver has a duty to yield to the first driver. The second driver will be at fault if they do not yield.
With both drivers backing up at the same time (known as a simultaneous back up), determining fault is more difficult. Without more information to assist in assigning fault, the insurers may have to concede to pay for the accident equally.
Navigating Laws in Gainesville for Parking Lot Crashes
It can be tricky to know what to do after a car accident in Gainesville. If you’ve been injured in a parking lot crash, speak with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who can help you to navigate insurance claims and Florida’s laws surrounding fault.
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