California Parking Lot Right of Way Rules that All Drivers Should Know

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California Parking Lot Right of Way Rules that All Drivers Should Know

Parking lot accidents are more common than one would expect. Every year, approximately 50,000 accidents occur in parking lots and garages. These accidents, unfortunately, claim the lives of more than 500 people and injure about 60,000 people yearly. While many of these accidents are caused by drivers getting distracted, a good number are caused by ignorance of existing right-of-way laws. There's a lot to know about backing out of a parking space right of way, and this article aims to bridge that knowledge gap and help you navigate the parking lot safely.

Before we further learn who has the right of way backing out of a parking space, let's talk about what legally constitutes the "right of way." In most states (including California), any vehicle within a designated lane moving slowly enough can take the right of way over other vehicles. This means that if someone pulls out onto the road from behind parked cars, they must first yield the right of way before proceeding across lanes.

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Who Has The Right of Way?

What rules apply to backing out of driveway right of way? Does the driver backing out of a parking space have the right of way? The following are sample situations showing who has the right of way.

  1. The driver on the main lane or thoroughfares (lanes exiting into the road) have the right of way over the vehicles exiting the feeder lanes (in between a thoroughfare and another).
  2. Drivers who turn right or left from the main lane into the roadway or feeder lanes must yield the right of way to any vehicle in traffic coming from the opposite direction. (This includes pedestrians and cyclists)
  3. Drivers moving on the feeder lane have the right of way over vehicles backing out of parking spots.
  4. If the parking lot has yield or stop signs located, it automatically overrides the rules for right of way. The right of way is inferior to the traffic signs within the parking lot.
  5. When there's an intersection or parking spot available, the first driver to arrive usually gets the right of way.

Simple Rules That Guide The Use of Parking Lots

There are a few simple rules you will need to remember when driving in parking lots.

  • Use your turn signals when you move into an open spot: This will help other drivers know where you're going and what your intentions are so that they can adjust their movements accordingly.
  • Pay attention to the directional arrows in parking lots with one-way lanes: They will let you know if you need to drive around the block to find a space that isn't blocked by another car or a curb.
  • Drivers that want the same spot: If two drivers arrive at the same time and both want the same parking space, the driver coming from the traffic lane must yield.

What Causes Parking Lot Accidents?

Drivers can experience bad injuries from a collision in parking lot accidents like whiplash, broken bones, etc. Moreover, pedestrians also get injured during these accidents. Hence it is crucial to know the leading causes of parking lot accidents.

  • Driving The Wrong Way Down A Lane: This is a common mistake, especially if you're new to driving or have poor depth perception. You'll need to be extra careful when pulling out of your parking spot to see oncoming traffic and crosswalks ahead of you before turning out onto the road.
  • Backing Up Without Looking First: Backing up is integral to getting in and out of parking spaces. But many drivers back up without looking behind them for oncoming traffic, while some rely only on their backup cameras. This is a rookie mistake and can easily lead to an accident, mainly because inexperienced drivers may not know who has the right of way when backing up.
  • Distracted Driving: Drivers who keep looking out for open spots instead of watching for traffic (including pedestrian traffic) around them.

What To Do If You are Involved in a Parking Lot Accident?

  • Take pictures of the scene and record any injuries you might have sustained and the position of the vehicles involved.
  • If there are independent witnesses to this accident, try to get their contact details so they can provide a statement later on.
  • You may have to visit a hospital even when your injuries look minor. It would be best if you did so as soon as possible after the accident because doctors can diagnose injuries more easily when you report them early.
  • When all is said and done, visit your insurance provider and report the incident.

Who Pays Damages When Parking Lot Accidents Happen?

Drivers are expected to take reasonable care to avoid causing injuries to others in the parking area. This applies whether your vehicle is parked or driving. You may be liable for their injuries, damages and losses if you negligently injure someone.

If you are involved in an accident while in a parking lot, your insurer will likely require that you report it immediately so that claims can be made correctly and quickly.

The parking lot owner can also be liable if the injuries are caused by the dangerous conditions of their parking lot. Dangerous conditions include:

  • Failing to make necessary repairs
  • Failing to mark directions of parking lanes
  • Poor lighting
  • Failure to provide adequate staff or staff training

While you may know everything about backing out of a parking space right of way, the best advice from a legal perspective is to avoid the hassle in the first place. Assume that drivers who are backing out of parking spots may not be able to see you. Drive cautiously through parking lots so you can stop if someone backs out unexpectedly. Finally, when backing up, take your time and look behind before proceeding.

Reach Out To A Personal Injury Lawyer

If you were involved in a parking lot accident, don't hesitate to contact a personal injury lawyer today! We readily answer your questions regarding 'right of way' rules and ensure you have the best legal options and advice. You can contact McCrary Accident Injury Law Firm at (855)752-6326.

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    What are the California laws for parking lot accidents?

    According to California state law, a parking lot accident in California has the same processes as a car accident on the road. If a parking lot collision occurs, you must report the accident and provide information (contact and name). You should exchange names, numbers, and insurance cards. Once the insurance has decided whose fault it is, then payments and repairs can be made.

    What responsibilities should a parking lot owner have after a car accident?

    A collision report or statement is necessary for the parking lot owner. This would be used as evidence and help the cooperation to find out who is at fault. In addition, a parking lot owner could make CCTV camera footage available and other records that are beneficial to the investigation.

    Will my insurance cover the damages from a parking lot accident?

    If your insurance package covers it, then the insurance company should sort it out as usual vehicle collision. This is if you are liable. However, if you were not at fault for the accident, the insurance provider of the person liable will take care of the car damages. If the liable person's coverage cannot cover everything, your insurance company should step in and cover the rest. Depending on your policy, you should receive coverage from your company.

    Should I yield when I have the right of way?

    Sometimes, it is advisable to yield, especially if the other driver is aggressive or behaving erratically. These drivers could be racing through traffic or even breaking parking lot rules. In these cases, yielding could help prevent accidents and serious injuries. In this case, you should just take the high road.

    Which vehicles usually get special right of way?

    A few road users get special treatment when it comes to the right of way. The significant vehicles are emergency vehicles like ambulances. Another example is the Police car.

    Who always has the right of way in the parking lot?

    Pedestrians. Parking Lots usually don't have marked crosswalks dedicated to pedestrians. However, whether or not they have these crosswalks, Pedestrians will always have the right of way in a parking lot.

    What if more than one vehicle approaches an uncontrolled intersection in the parking lot?

    In this case, the driver on the left should yield to the driver on the right.

    What do I do if I hit a parked car?

    If you hit a parked car and the owner is nowhere to be seen, you should park at the nearest safe location. The next thing is to locate the owner or the person in charge of the car.

    What do I do if someone hits my parked car and drives off?

    If you can or cannot get the culprit, still call the police. This is a crime from the person who did that and ran off. The police would help you sort it out. You can also get compensation after all the legal activities are completed.

    Our personal injury services extend across various locations to ensure we can assist you wherever you may be. We are proud to offer our expertise in Rocklin, Folsom, Yuba City, Woodland, Fresno, Pleasanton, Carmichael, Citrus Heights, Roseville, Natomas, Sacramento, Rancho Cordova, Fair Oaks, Elk Grove, and El Dorado Hills. Each location is equipped to provide you with the comprehensive support and legal guidance you need for your personal injury case.

    McCrary Accident Injury Law Firm specializes in personal injury litigation. Its founder, Dan McCrary, Esq., spent 14 years working for the insurance companies before switching sides to represent personal injury victims in Rocklin as an attorney.

    Dan McCrary’s years of experience on the defense side taught him exactly how to obtain maximum recovery for his injured clients. If you have been injured in an accident you should contact the Accident & Injury Lawyers, Personal injury Attorney, Car accident lawyers at McCrary Accident Injury Law Firm in Rocklin, folsom, Sacramento to get the money you deserve, and overcome the tactics routinely employed by the insurance companies.