Arizona Law On Parking Lot Accidents
If you’ve ever visited the mall on Christmas Eve, you know that a packed parking lot can be a dangerous place. Arizona law on parking lot accidents is surprisingly detailed and provides a useful framework for settling disputes arising from car accidents in parking lots.
Twenty percent of accidents happen in parking lots. It’s not all casual fender benders: car accidents in parking lots and garages kill hundreds of people a year. Even nonfatal accidents can severely impact your health and financial stability.
To make matters worse, parking lots have murky driving rules. It can be challenging to determine who is at fault for the accident and what you need to do about it.
Still, laws differ from state to state. We can provide you with a better understanding of how Arizona law treats parking lot accidents and tips on steps you should take if you’re involved in an accident in an Arizona parking lot. We also can explain how to determine fault in a parking lot car accident, and other related issues.
Who Has the Right of Way in a Parking Lot?
For the most part, Arizona parking lots follow standard right-of-way traffic rules.
This means that:
- Cars in main lanes have the right of way. Cars backing out of a parking space do not have the right of way and must always yield to cars in main lanes.
- Follow all traffic signals. You will be liable for the accident if you caused a collision by not following traffic signals.
- If you crash into a parked vehicle, it is your fault. Unless the driver parked the car illegally, if you hit a parked car you will be liable.
- If you damage another vehicle when you open your door, you will likely be at fault for any damages.
Penalties for Hitting a Parked Vehicle
You will be liable for the collision (unless they were parked illegally.)
Of course, there are legal consequences for hitting a parked vehicle (usually fines). Yet, those penalties are harsher if you do not stop after hitting a parked vehicle.
If you do not stop after you hit a parked vehicle, you can be subject to a class 3 misdemeanor. Although a class 3 misdemeanor is the lowest level misdemeanor in Arizona, it is still an uncomfortable financial and legal headache.
A level 3 misdemeanor can result in up to 30 days in jail. Not only that, but it can cost you fines up to $500 plus surcharges, and one year of probation.
While the chances that you will have to do jail time are unlikely, each of these violations costs 6 points on your license.
How to Prevent Parking Lot Accidents
A big way to prevent parking lot accidents is the same way that you would prevent accidents on the road. By driving slower, using your blinkers, watching for pedestrians, and being cognizant of your surroundings, you lower your chances of an accident.
But there are other tools you can use to protect yourself. Purchasing a backup camera enhances your view and offers supplemental protection. 9% of pedestrian deaths happened from backup accidents, so the more you can do to enhance your view is critical to preventing an accident.
Another tip is to never pull through a spot. Other cars pull into spots fast. Paired with a lack of visibility when pulling in, accidents often occur when one car pulls into a parking spot.
Lastly, park away from vehicles to protect yourself from other drivers’ carelessness. This drastically reduces the chances of someone hitting your car when they open your door, or from people driving into your parked car.
What to Do After a Car Crash in a Parking Lot
Whether you get into an accident on the freeway or in a parking lot, the first step you should always take is to call the police.
Even if you are in a minor accident, it is always a good idea to call the police. You want the police present in case the situation gets heated, and also to make sure the entire process is done by the book.
You want to make sure to document any roadside signs that prove you were in the right. Take detailed photographs of both vehicles to document the accident.
Depending on the severity, ask others in the parking lot if they witnessed the collision. If you’re near a store, you can also check to see if the store has any camera footage.
For further understanding of what to do after a parking lot accident in Arizona, speak to a lawyer today.