What Are Leading Causes of Parking Lot Accidents?

Posted on: July 1, 2022

Car accidents are bound to happen with so many vehicles and people moving in different directions in parking lots. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), tens of thousands of these accidents occur annually, resulting in debilitating injuries and costly property damage.

It is not always easy to determine who is at fault for a parking lot accident. Proving negligence is essential to help injured people recover damages and move forward after a severe crash.

Parking lots are chaotic. Whether you are parking in a small lot or a large, multi-story parking garage, hazards are waiting around every corner. Here are the most common causes of parking lot accidents.


Drivers need to adjust their speed to the road conditions. Drivers must slow down to avoid vehicles pulling in and out of spots, people walking through parking lanes, and even the stray shopping cart rolling out of the corral.

In 2020, speed was a factor in 29 percent of all fatal crashes nationwide, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That includes parking lot collisions. Speed limits are typically posted in parking lots. In most New Jersey municipalities, the speed limit for parking lots is 15 miles per hour.


Parking lots can be confusing, especially those adjacent to large shopping centers and business complexes. Drivers do not always know or follow basic traffic rules. Motorists may pull out of a parking spot without looking or cut across rows of spots instead of driving around them.

A defensive approach to driving is always recommended and can be especially beneficial when navigating a crowded parking lot. A defensive driver continually scans ahead and anticipates the actions of other motorists and pedestrians so they can react quickly and avoid an accident.


Any activity that takes the driver’s attention away from operating the vehicle is a dangerous distraction. Distractions can be physical, mental, or visual. Driver distractions include changing the radio station to brushing one’s hair or sending a text. It only takes two to three seconds of taking your eyes off the road for a severe crash to happen, so your focus must be on driving.

Limited Visibility

Visibility is more limited in crowded parking areas. Depending on how a parking lot or garage is configured, it can be difficult for a reversing driver to see approaching cars. While mirrors, cameras, and sensors help warn drivers of hazards, they are not enough to prevent every parking lot accident.

Unexpected Objects and People

Parking lots are unpredictable. Drivers do not always know or follow traffic flow, even when signs are posted to direct them in a specific direction. Additionally, pedestrians may not look before walking or walk between parked cars.

Possible Liable Parties

How do you determine who is at fault if you are involved in a parking lot accident? Liability is more complex in locations where traffic rules and patterns are not as easy to discern.

While every parking lot accident is assessed on a case-by-case basis, here is a basic overview of liability:

  • Left-turn parking lot accidents: In a parking lot, the same right-of-way rules apply just as they do on the open road. If you make a left turn into a parking spot, you must yield to vehicles coming down the parking lane from the opposite direction. If a driver turns and collides with another vehicle, they will likely be considered at fault for the crash.
  • Pulling in and out of parking spots: Another common parking lot crash scenario happens when two vehicles back out of spots on opposite sides of the lane simultaneously. Liability is challenging to discern in these cases because drivers must ensure it is reasonably safe to back out before they reverse their vehicle. If one driver started backing up first, the other driver is likely at fault if the two vehicles collide. The second driver should have waited for the first vehicle to finish backing out before proceeding.
  • Rear-end parking lot accidents: In a rear-end accident, the tailing driver is usually at fault. They are responsible for maintaining a safe following distance from the vehicle in front of them at all times. Failure to do so can be considered negligent.

What About Poorly-Maintained Parking Lots?

Some crashes happen because of the conditions of the parking lot itself. Visitors can be injured due to ice and snow, debris, potholes, poor lighting, missing signage, inadequate security, and other hazards.

In New Jersey, the person who is injured in a parking lot accident due to poor maintenance has the burden of proof. They must show their injuries were caused by the property owner’s negligence. If the parking garage owner knew or should have known about the hazard that caused their injuries, that injured party may be entitled to compensation.

Evidence from the accident scene is critical in proving negligence existed. Once you are safe and have contacted the authorities, take photos or videos of the scene, get contact information from the other driver and witnesses, and file a police report.

Save copies of any medical records related to your parking lot accident injuries, including emergency room visits, medications, tests, and surgery. All of these expenses may be compensable if your claim is successful. It is always wise to contact an experienced lawyer to review your case and recommend the best course of action after a severe parking lot accident.

Monmouth County Car Accident Lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova Help Clients Recover From Losses and Injuries After Parking Lot Collisions

If you have been involved in a parking lot accident, you may feel stressed or overwhelmed by the physical, financial, and legal challenges you are facing. Our Monmouth County car accident lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova are here to help. Call us at 732-705-3363 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. From our offices in Hazlet and Highland Park, New Jersey, we are proud to represent clients in Ocean County, Sussex County, Neptune, Middlesex County, and Pennsylvania.