The Urban Myth About Parking Lot Accidents: Who Really Is At Fault?

Sunday July 27th, 2014

Posted at 3:30pm

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Guest Article by Monica Pathak, Lawyer at Goldstein DeBiase Manzocco, Serious Injury Lawyers

Parking lots are a modern day maze. They are jammed with cars, busy people – and in some cases, shopping carts – all moving in different directions in one tight confined space. It’s no wonder that they are one of the most common locations in which car accidents occur.

The Urban Myth

Despite the almost-daily urban experience of having to park a car, a dangerous urban myth persists that accidents which take place in parking lots are “50-50”. In other words, if two cars crash inside a parking lot, both drivers involved are automatically deemed as being equally at fault.

The Truth

Be warned: this urban myth is false. While the police do not issue traffic tickets for parking lot accidents (though it’s still advisable to file a police report), the reality for insurance purposes is that one driver is always 100% at fault for causing the collision.

Two Golden Rules: Who Really is at Fault?

In Ontario, auto insurance companies and lawyers use the Fault Determination Rules (a regulation under the provincial Insurance Act) to help determine who is to blame for a car accident in various traffic scenarios. In a parking lot accident, there are two golden rules that all drivers should remember:

  • Rule #1 – Driving inside Parking Lots: Drivers travelling on its main road (i.e. the road which gives passage into, through or out of it) have the right of way over other motorists travelling elsewhere in the parking lot (ie. the feeder lanes). The collision-causing motorist who fails to yield the right of way to a driver travelling along the parking lot’s main thoroughfare is 100% to blame for an accident.
  • Rule #2 – Leaving a Parking Space: Any driver who, while attempting to leave a parking space, fails to yield the right of way to a passing motorist and causes an accident is 100% to blame for the collision.

5 Ways to Protect Yourself While Driving in a Parking Lot

How can you steer clear of parking lot accidents? Although they aren’t completely avoidable, you can minimize your risk of being involved in one by using these five common sense tips:

  1. Anticipate the movements of the drivers around you (and assume that they aren’t paying attention).
  2. Slow down.
  3. Obey all traffic signs inside a parking lot.
  4. Avoid parking in high traffic areas.
  5. Reverse into your spot. Alternatively, if you have to back out when you leave, look behind you and in both directions (including your blind spots).

Obviously, driving within the confines of a private parking lot and travelling along our local roads are two very different experiences. That said, it’s important to remember that as with our roads, the laws of Ontario and common sense continue to prevail inside parking lots – don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise.

Tell us: Have you had/almost had a car accident inside a parking lot?

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