One of the common questions that many people injured in car accidents is whether a person who is injured in a parking lot accident can sue the at-fault driver – especially if the driver in question was not issued a ticket by the police.
The answer is – yes, you can. Under Virginia law, the victim of an automobile accident – irrespective of whether the accident occurred on the road or in a parking lot – has the right to sue the at-fault party for financial restitution.
The problem, however, is that recovering compensation in a parking lot accident claim can be more difficult compared to a regular automobile accident claim for several reasons.
No Police Report
Most parking lots in Virginia are located on private property, which means police officers do not have the authority to issue tickets to drivers for violating traffic laws. Unless you are seriously injured, the responding officer is unlikely to file an official police report. They might simply call the accident ‘not reportable’ and move on.
The lack of a detailed police report can make it slightly harder for your personal injury attorney to build a watertight case against the at-fault driver.
Reluctance of Insurance Companies to Take Parking Lot Accidents Seriously
This is certainly one of the biggest challenges associated with a parking lot accident claim. Data shows that a vast majority of parking lot accidents tend to happen when vehicles are backing out of a parking space. As a result, insurance companies generally assume that any accident that happens in a parking lot must be a low-impact collision, in which the victim is unlikely to suffer grievous injuries. This is why they tend to offer ridiculously low settlement offers to victims of parking lot accidents.
This assumption – needless to say – is flawed, as data shows that even low-impact collisions can result in serious injuries.
For instance, if you are rear-ended by a distracted driver in a parking lot, you could suffer injuries to your neck and spine, which can leave you braced up and bedridden for weeks.
Parking lot accidents involving pedestrians, on the other hand, can result in severe injuries. A motor vehicle can weigh as much as 3,000 pounds. A pedestrian, on the other hand, is completely unprotected. What it means is that a collision – even at very low speeds – can leave the pedestrian with debilitating injuries.
Unfortunately, insurance companies are oblivious to these facts. So, they will downplay the severity of your injuries and try to settle the case as quickly as they can by offering you a fraction of what you are owed.
Responsibilities of Pedestrians and Motorists in Virginia
Motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians in Virginia are expected to follow the ‘lookout law’, which requires them to keep an eye out for vehicles and take steps – which any reasonable person would take – to avoid a collision.
Citing this law, the at-fault party’s insurance company might claim that you failed to exercise due care and got injured as a result. If they manage to prove that you were at fault – even to the slightest degree – for the accident, you cannot receive any compensation whatsoever, thanks to Virginia’s pure contributory negligence law.
What Can You Do to Have the Best Chance of Recovering Damages in a Parking Lot Accident?
First of all, document the accident scene. In the absence of a police report, the evidence you collect at the accident scene can be immensely helpful for your attorney to build a case against the person who caused the accident. So, take photographs of the injuries and property damage caused by the accident, get the at-fault driver’s insurance details, and talk to potential eyewitnesses (if any) and get their contact information.
Getting Medical Treatment
Seek medical treatment for your injuries and make sure you preserve all your medical records.
Getting Legal Representation
Get in touch with an experienced Virginia personal injury attorney and take the necessary steps to pursue a claim against the at-fault party.
Injured in a Parking Lot Accident? We Can Help You!
If you or any of your family members have been injured in a parking lot accident, the personal injury attorneys at Shapiro, Appleton, & Washburn can help you.
For over three decades, we have been at the forefront of fighting for the rights of injury victims in Virginia. We have represented hundreds of victims of automobile accidents – including those who were injured in parking lot accidents – and recovered millions in restitution.
We know how to gather the evidence needed to establish the other party’s culpability and how to negotiate with the insurance company to recover the settlement you are owed.
We work on a contingency basis for personal injury cases, which means we will only charge you if we win your case and recover monetary damages. Call us today at 800-752-0042 or contact us online to schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our Virginia parking lot accident attorneys.