Many accidents take place in parking lots, including malls, retail stores, and garages. Although parking lot accidents in Maryland are usually fender benders or drivers damaging parked cars, some situations occur that result in serious and life-altering injuries for those involved.
People who suffer injuries or vehicle damage often ask, “do insurance companies cover parking lot accidents in Maryland?”
Drivers who are involved in parking accidents sometimes think the insurance situation is different than that of wrecks on the open road. They may even assume the insurance companies will refuse to cover their claim.
However, this is not the case. Parking lot accidents are handled in the same manner as any other motor vehicle crash. You could file a claim with your insurance company or pursue a civil lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
In the following article, one of our experienced Maryland car accident lawyers from Rice, Murtha & Psoras examines your legal options after a parking lot accident. If you have any further questions or wish to pursue a legal claim, call our office at (410) 431-0911 to schedule a free consultation.
Maryland’s “Fault” Insurance System and Parking Lot Accidents
Maryland auto insurance laws follow a traditional “fault” system. Therefore, the financial responsibility for any losses, such as injuries, medical expenses, and lost income, is borne by the at-fault driver.
So, in a practical sense, the insurance company for the at-fault driver will likely have to compensate any injured drivers, passengers, or pedestrians, up to the policy limits.
If you are injured in a parking lot accident in Maryland, you generally have three options available.
First, you could file a claim with your insurance provider, assuming that your policy covers your damages. In some situations, your insurance company will likely file a subrogation claim against an at-fault driver’s insurance company.
You could also file a third-party claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company and attempt to work out a reasonable settlement.
Finally, you are entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit in a Maryland civil court against the at-fault driver. When you file a lawsuit, you are not precluding the possibility of settling with an insurance carrier.
In fact, in many cases, filing a lawsuit is necessary to maximize your compensation. Our experienced Maryland car accident attorneys will assist you in understanding your rights.
How Common are MD Parking Lot Accidents?
Most people rack up at least half a dozen parking lot accidents over their lifetimes. However, most of these incidents are cars backing into each other at low speeds, causing minimal damage.
The insurance company State Farm points out that about a fifth of all wrecks take place in parking lots. Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration states drivers cause about 103,000 accidents on average every year in Maryland. That is about 20,000 parking lot accidents every year in the state.
There are rules of the road that all drivers are required to follow. Likewise, there are rules that drivers should adhere to while in a parking lot.
Your responsibilities as a driver depends on where you are in the parking, including what lane you are currently using.
The lanes that lead to an exit or roadway are commonly referred to as thoroughfares. Vehicles in thoroughfares usually move faster than other cars in a parking lot.
These vehicles also have the right of way. Any cars entering a thoroughfare should yield to them.
Feeder lanes are those lanes that run between parked cars and enter or exit into thoroughfares. These drivers should yield to vehicles in the thoroughfares.
Additionally, cars that are leaving parking lanes must yield to cars in the feeder lanes. When reviewing a potential case, our Maryland car accident attorneys will investigate the circumstances to determine what occurred.
What Are the Main Causes of MD Parking Lot Accidents?
Parking lot accidents are different from wrecks on the open road. The rules are different in car parks. Speeds are slower, but more cars move in different directions, increasing the potential for things to go wrong.
Parking lots in Maryland also bring vehicles into close contact with pedestrians. A lot of drivers and people on foot are distracted by the need to find a spot, find their car again, or go shopping.
It is a recipe for chaos and accidents. Some of the common causes of parking lot accidents in Maryland are listed below.
Drivers leaving a space must ensure the lane behind them is clear before they reverse. Unfortunately, this does not always happen. Parking lot drivers face a lot of pressure.
Spaces are often at a premium, particularly over the holidays, and a driver behind you may be impatient to get into space. Pedestrians and small children are particularly vulnerable to reversing drivers.
Although all cars manufactured since 2018 have backup cameras, many older cars lack this feature. Large SUVs have blind spots. They can cause terrible injuries to children, even at low speeds.
Drivers Not Following Right of Way Arrows
Most parking lots have arrows that tell drivers which way to go. We are always amazed at how many drivers see a parking garage as a free-for-all where no rules apply.
They ignore the arrows and can cause head-on and broadside accidents. These wrecks often cause grave injuries, even at low speeds.
Drivers Ignoring Stop Signs
Many drivers fail to come to a complete stop when they encounter stop signs in Maryland parking garages. Failing to abide by a stop sign can leave you liable for injuries and property damage to cars you hit.
Following too Closely
Drivers who tailgate are a menace on the roads. They exhibit the same behavior in parking lots. If the car in front stops to enter a space or reaches a stop sign, the tailgating car may run into the back of the car ahead. Rear-enders are the most common type of MD accident. Parking lots are no exception.
Ice and Bad Weather
Ice and snow often accumulate in outdoor parking lots, posing a menace for users. Drivers should slow down below posted speed limits in bad weather conditions.
If a parking lot owner fails to clear ice or snow from the asphalt, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit for injuries and property damage against the lot owner as well as the motorist who hit you.
Potholes and Poor Lighting
We have seen parking lots in Baltimore and elsewhere that are poorly maintained and badly lit. Potholes may damage your car, and drivers are more likely to come to grief in dim parking lots.
Drivers have a duty to react to the conditions around them. They would not get away with using a parking lot owner if they were driving too fast or fail to see another vehicle.
However, the condition of a parking lot can be a factor in a lawsuit. Our Baltimore parking lot accident lawyers will be able to help you in your case.
Over 27,000 people are killed and injured by MD distracted drivers every year, states the MVA. Many drivers are highly distracted while they are parking.
They are preoccupied with searching for spaces or getting close to a store and may not see other drivers or pedestrians. They could even be researching what stores to visit on their cellphone as they drive around the garage at the mall. In these cases, you may need our Maryland pedestrian accident lawyers.
How To Deal With An Insurance Company After a Parking Lot Accidents in MD
Insurance claims for parking lot accidents in Maryland work the same as any other claim. Resist the temptation to behave differently because the accident occurred in a parking lot.
The other driver may tell you it was only a fender bender at low speed, and there is no need to exchange insurance details. If you allow the other driver to leave without obtaining his or her details, it will be much harder to track them down later when you discover property damage to your car, or you realize you suffered from whiplash. You may want to contact our Maryland whiplash lawyers.
You should call 911 after a serious wreck in an MD parking lot. A police officer will show up and take a report and cite at-fault parties in some cases.
Although the officer will file a report, always get the insurance and contact details of all of the parties to the accident. Take the names and contact details of any witnesses to the crash.
If possible, take photos of the wreck scene and damage to your car and others on your cellphone. If you hire a car accident injury lawyer, we will seek video footage from the lot or garage that may have captured your accident.
One of the challenges in dealing with an insurance company after parking lot accidents in MD is getting the adjuster to take your case seriously.
Insurance companies routinely try to dismiss parking lot crashes. They often claim the speeds involved were insufficient to cause injuries, particularly serious outcomes like traumatic brain injuries.
In reality, parking lot accidents can cause horrendous injuries, particularly to older people and children. In June 2019, for instance, a 67-year-old woman was killed in the Target parking lot in Owings Mills, Baltimore, when a driver crashed into her car as she was standing next to it, and it hit her.
Insurance companies do cover parking lot accidents in Maryland. Always persevere with a claim when another driver hurts you or leaves your car mangled. An insurance company will typically take your claim more seriously if a Baltimore car accident lawyer is involved. In some cases, we will have to escalate the claim by filing a lawsuit.
What Happens When a Hit-and-Run Driver Damages Your Car?
It’s very common for drivers to hit your unattended car in parking lots and to drive off without leaving a note. You might be able to trace the driver who left the scene and left your car damaged.
If not, you can use uninsured motorist coverage to claim on your insurance policy for the damage to your car. Even minor scrapes can cost you hundreds of dollars in bodywork.
The uninsured motorist property damage coverage is subject to a $250 deductible under state law. However, repairs from a parking lot accident usually run into thousands of dollars.
Suing a Maryland Parking Lot for Injuries
In most cases, a plaintiff in a parking lot injury case will try and hold the at-fault driver liable for their damages. However, responsibility could also lie with the parking lot owner or manager. If the owner of the premises was negligent, they could be held liable for any injuries or damages.
An owner of a parking lot has an obligation to take reasonable care in the maintenance and management of the parking lot. This duty includes taking reasonable precautions to ensure that people using the facility are kept free from harm. This obligation applies to people walking or driving through the parking lot.
Every situation is different, and in most parking lot accidents, a negligent driver will be to blame. However, a situation could exist that contributes to an accident. For example, if a parking lot is unreasonably dark or poorly lit, it could contribute to an accident. Additionally, poor or confusing signage could place two drivers in an untenable situation.
Contributory Negligence in Maryland Parking Lot Accidents
Maryland adds an additional legal hurdle when pursuing a personal injury claim that other states do not. In some accident cases, there are several contributing factors.
For example, an accident could occur in a poorly lit parking lot when a driver is backing out of a spot without checking their mirrors and collides with an oncoming driver who was texting. The conduct of each driver and the parking lot conditions all played a role in the accident. I
n many states, a percentage of blame will be assigned to each party, and the potential compensation someone would receive would be decreased by their percentage of fault.
In this case, a jury could find that the driver backing up was sixty percent at fault, and the driver was forty percent to blame. Furthermore, the conditions of the lot were found not to have contributed. Therefore, if the texting driver was awarded $10,000, it would be reduced to $6,000 to reflect their contribution.
Maryland does not approach personal injury claims in the same manner. Under the legal theory of “contributory negligence,” if a plaintiff is found to have contributed to an accident, they are prohibited from recovering any financial award.
Therefore, using the example above, if the texting driver sued for damages, they would be unable to collect any compensation from the defendant.
When our experienced Maryland parking lot accident attorneys prepare your case, they will look to build arguments and defenses against any claims that you contributed to the accident. In situations where the evidence shows some culpability, it is often better to negotiate with an insurance company to arrive at a workable settlement than go to court.
Damages Available in a Parking Lot Accident in Maryland
Whether you accept a settlement from an insurance company or pursue a personal injury claim after a parking lot accident, you are seeking compensation for your damages.
You are entitled to recover your financial losses, including your medical expenses, lost income, and property damage. Our Maryland personal injury attorneys will gather receipts, bills, and pay stubs to determine what your out-of-pocket costs were.
Furthermore, our office will work with your healthcare providers and financial experts to estimate future medical expenses or lost wages.
In addition to your out-of-pocket expenses, you are permitted to recover your non-economic or intangible damages. These subjective losses include pain and suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, and other harm you endured because of your injury.
While challenging to calculate, our office will thoroughly review your case to form a good-faith estimate.
Talk to One of Our Lawyers About Parking Lot Accidents in Maryland
Do not let the insurance company talk its way out of a claim for a parking lot accident in MD. Many people suffer broken bones or worse when they are hit in parking lots.
Pedestrians are particularly vulnerable. At Rice, Murtha & Psoras, we take all accidents seriously. Our Maryland personal injury attorneys will meet you as soon as possible and assess the strength of your case.
When we take on a case, we deal with the insurance company on your behalf, allowing you to concentrate on healing. Please contact our car accident injury team at (410) 694-7291.