Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney P.C.

Who is liable in a parking lot accident in Connecticut?

Holiday shopping season is upon us, and while a lot of holiday shopping is done online these days, the parking lots at local shopping centers and businesses still become extremely crowded. With those holiday crowds often comes an increase in motor vehicle accidents.

What many holiday shoppers want to know is, who is at fault in parking lot accidents? Better yet, knowing who has the right-of-way can help to avoid accidents in the first place.

In order to determine fault, we first have to know the right-of-way rules in parking lots. Although many drivers may never have realized it before, there are clear rules about which drivers must yield in parking lots. Obviously, knowing who has the right-of-way is important because there are so many cars going different directions in a contained area.

Pay attention to traffic signs: For many, traffic signs in parking lots just don't have the same effect as they do out on the roadways. Some people even think they can completely disregard traffic signs in parking lots if they don't see anyone else coming. This is illegal. Traffic signs in parking lots must be followed in order to prevent accidents. They are not optional and clearly show who has the right-of-way.

Look at the lane: Another surefire way to know who has the right-of-way is to pay attention to the type of lane you are in. There are two basic types of lanes in parking lots: thoroughfares and feeder lanes. Drivers in the thoroughfares always have the right of way.

Thoroughfares are the often-wider lanes that provide exits to a street. These are the main lanes in and out of the parking lot. The other type of lanes, feeder lanes, are smaller and only bring drivers to and from the thoroughfares.

Drivers who are in feeder lanes must stop for and yield to drivers in thoroughfares.

Yield when moving out of a space: Drivers who are backing or pulling out of a parking space always must yield to drivers who are driving down any type of lane. When there are multiple cars backing out of parking stalls at once, use extra caution. Both cars are responsible for avoiding an accident.

Don't forget about pedestrians: Pedestrian accidents are very common in parking lots. Driving in a parking lot is not the time to be distracted or in a hurry. Keep a close eye out for not only other cars, but pedestrians and children who could be darting out from in between vehicles.  

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of who is at fault for parking lot accidents. In most cases, it comes down to who has the right-of-way, and it all cases, being a defensive and attentive driver can help prevent accidents.

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