Each day, Albertans park their vehicle in parking lots across the province, whether for work, shopping, or leisure. These large concrete landscapes are often essential to activities of daily living, offering both convenience and accessibility. However, drivers and pedestrians are not exempt from motor vehicle accidents in parking lots. Parking spots can be hotspots for a wide range of accidents that can lead to personal injuries and property damage.

From fender-benders and pedestrian accidents to hit-and-runs and property damage claims, parking lots can quickly turn into unexpected battlefields, particularly in poor weather conditions and during busy holidays. There are many aspects to parking lot accidents in Alberta, including their causes, consequences, what you can do if you are injured, and what to do if you do get hurt.

Types of Parking Lot Accidents

Regardless of where you are in Alberta or elsewhere, parking lot accidents can happen quickly and can result in significant consequences for all parties involved. Parking lot accidents are situations where a vehicle collides with another vehicle or a person inside the parking lot area. Some of the most common types of parking lot accidents include:

  • “Fender-benders” and rear-end collisions between two moving vehicles;
  • Pedestrian accidents between a vehicle and a person or a cyclist;
  • Property damage incidents including door dings and side-swiping; and
  • Hit-and-runs with another vehicle or material in the parking lot area.

Common Causes of Parking Lot Accidents 

Parking lots can quickly become a breeding ground for motor vehicle accidents involving other vehicles, pedestrians or cyclists. Contrary to the common myth that parties in parking lot accidents will always be found 50% at fault, fault will be determined as it would be in any other accident, and various factors will come into play, such as contributory negligence. Therefore, drivers and pedestrians alike need to be aware of the common causes of these accidents, some of which are set out in more detail below. 

Distracted walking and driving

Distracted driving is not limited to highways and city streets; it extends into parking lots. Many people use their smartphones frequently and may check their devices while navigating a parking lot. As a result of this undivided attention, like on the open road, collisions with other vehicles or pedestrians can happen without forewarning. Pedestrians engrossed in their smartphones or carrying out other activities while walking may also not pay proper attention to oncoming traffic, leading to potentially avoidable accidents.

Alberta’s ever-changing weather conditions can significantly impact parking lot safety. Due to snow or ice, slippery surfaces can cause vehicles to skid or spin, making it difficult or impossible to control and stop the vehicle in time. Reduced visibility during heavy rain, snowfall, or particularly sunny conditions can also increase the likelihood of an accident.

Bling spots and limited visibility

Parking lots are often filled with larger vehicles alongside smaller cars and motorcycles. These varying sizes can create significant blind spots for drivers and pedestrians, making it hard to see while walking between vehicles or backing out of parking spaces. Inadequate mirrors or failure by a driver to check their blind spots can also result in an accident.

Speed and reckless driving

Some drivers must comply with the parking lot’s speed limits and safety regulations. However, speeding in these congested areas greatly reduces a driver’s reaction time, making it incredibly difficult to stop in case of sudden obstacles, such as a cart, pedestrians, and children. 

Poorly designed or marked parking lots

While everyone using a parking lot area should maintain exceptional awareness of the situation around them, inadequate signage, faded road markings, and poorly designed parking lots can create confusion for drivers and pedestrians alike. When drivers are unsure about the right-of-way or where to park can lead to misunderstandings and accidents. 

How to Prevent Parking Lot Accidents From Happening

Although a parking lot accident can occur at any time, there are several precautions you can take to minimize the possibility of being involved in a parking lot accident. Some key things for both pedestrians and motor vehicle operators to keep in mind when moving through a parking lot include:

  • Pay attention to your surroundings and be sure to check all mirrors and vehicles around you before pulling into or out of a parking spot or driving through a parking lot;
  • Install a backup camera on your vehicle, mirror extensions or alternative technology for parking safety;
  • Operate your vehicle at a low speed or in accordance with any posted speed limit; 
  • Always give space to other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists and be patient and courteous to other parking lot users.

What to do if You’re Involved in a Parking Lot Accident

Your next steps can be critical if you have been involved in a parking lot accident, particularly if you have been injured. After any car accident, your priority should be your safety and health. Whether or not you notice any immediate injuries, seeking medical attention as quickly as possible is imperative. 

The appropriate first responders must be called to the scene of an accident as soon as possible. It can be helpful to document the scene by taking photographs of the scene to note any property damage, injuries, signage, weather conditions, and other potential factors. It is also important to exchange insurance information and contact details with the other parties involved, as well as with witnesses and the police. 

After the accident scene has been cleared and you have sought medical attention, speaking with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible is important to preserve your potential personal injury claim. An experienced personal injury lawyer can provide you with information and resources to protect your rights and help you recover the maximum compensation possible.

Contact the Personal Injury Lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP in Calgary for Trusted Advice on Parking Lot Accidents

Vehicle operators in Alberta must be diligent when navigating through close, busy spaces, including parking lots. However, even though one party may take appropriate precautions and ensure their awareness of their surroundings, a car accident can happen at any time and can result in substantial and life-changing injuries. At Cuming & Gillespie LLP, our skilled personal injury lawyers have extensive experience helping clients recover compensation for their accident-related injuries to move forward after an accident. If you have been involved in an accident that resulted in a serious personal injury. In that case, our lawyers will explain how the law applies to your circumstances and your options when seeking to pursue a claim for compensation. To schedule an initial consultation with one of our team members, contact us online or by phone at 403-571-0555.