If you are a pedestrian struck by a motorist who was attempting to park or exit from a parking space, or you are a motorist hit by another vehicle that was parking, attempting to park or exiting a parking space, you may have a claim for compensation. Although parking accidents are often low-impact or occur at low speeds, the injuries that can result are very real.
Pedestrians in Back Up Accidents
Back up accidents where a pedestrian is involved can easily result in broken bones, internal injuries, traumatic brain injury or any other serious injury. Many times, these occur in parking lots with a large number of vehicles where people are walking to and from their cars. Although many current model cars are equipped with rear-view cameras, they may or may not be effective and most cars are not so the driver must take care to ensure that no one is in their path when backing up.
Even at low speeds in parking accidents when a 5000-pound car hits a pedestrian, serious injuries are not uncommon, especially if the person struck is elderly or a child. If you are thrown to the pavement and strike your head, broken bones or serious brain injuries can result.
Bicyclists and Parked Cars
Bicyclists face numerous risks, especially in urban areas, from inattentive and overly aggressive drivers. One well-known hazard is from drivers, and passengers, exiting parked cars who open their doors into the path of a bicyclist, or a driver who fails to notice an approaching cyclist and pulls out of a parking space directly into the cyclist’s path.
When exiting a car, motorists have a duty to exercise reasonable care when opening their door on the traffic side, which could include the passenger side if there is a bike lane. Bicycles are a common feature in urban areas and anyone in a car should be cognizant of their existence, especially if the car is parked next to a bike lane. The individual’s failure to do so should expose them to liability for any injuries suffered by the bicyclist who was unable to avoid striking the door.
The same principle applies when a motorist pulls out from a parking space into traffic and fails to notice an approaching bicyclist. Cyclists are permitted on urban roadways and driver must be just as aware of their presence as they must be of pedestrians and other vehicles.
Low Impact Collisions and Injuries in Parking Accidents
If you were a motorist, or a pedestrian, injured when your car collided with another car where the driver either was exiting a parking space in a backup accident or was competing with you for a parking spot, you may encounter problems with your claim. The very nature of a parking accident is that the speed of the at-fault driver’s car is usually low. Consequently, most insurance adjusters and insurance defense lawyers will contend that no injuries could have resulted or that they are extremely minor.
This assumption ignores the possible pre-existing weakened physical condition of the injured party or their very young or advanced age. Personal injury law dictates that you take the injured party (plaintiff) as he or she is. This means that it is irrelevant that if you were in a weakened condition before the accident and consequently suffered an injury that a supposedly normal person might not have suffered, so that you are entitled to any reasonable resulting damages. For instance, if you were elderly and suffered from osteoporosis and sustained a broken hip even from a very minor collision, you are entitled to medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering and any other damages as a result without mitigation.
Moreover, low impact collisions do result in serious injuries ranging from nagging whiplash injuries to your neck and back to joint and spinal damage. Your Massachusetts car accident lawyer will likely require testimony from your treating physician that your injuries are real and from an injury bio-mechanics expert who has experience and training in engineering mechanics and anatomy or tissue injury. Many of these experts have degrees in kinesiology and/or biomechanical engineering with a focus on injury mechanics and can provide convincing, credible and powerful testimony that low impact collisions can easily result in serious injuries.
As far as fault or liability, a car with a rear-view camera could provide valuable evidence showing that you were violently struck by a car in a backup accident. Some cars have on-board devices that record information about the car’s speed and braking actions that an engineer can analyze.
In an accident in Waltham on September 2, 2017, surveillance video captured images of a van backing into a parking space and striking 3 people. Many parking lots have surveillance cameras as well to record robberies or other criminal conduct in the lot. In the Waltham incident, the video clearly showed the van driver’s unawareness of the people walking behind the van. After striking two pedestrians, the van driver inexplicably continued onto the sidewalk and struck a third person, pinning him against a wall.
Lessons for Pedestrians and Bicyclists
All pedestrians and bicyclists need to be especially cautious. Although a motorist has no heightened obligation or legal duty to use extraordinary care, pedestrians should always be defensive and assume that a motorist does not see you.
When crossing a street, wait and be sure that all cars stop since motorists will commonly try to beat the light and enter an intersection on a red light. Merely because the light is green for you does not mean a driver will see it. Distracted driving accidents are as common as drunk driving ones and a motorist texting when approaching an intersection will not always be aware that the light is now red.
Bicyclists need to exercise caution when riding alongside parked cars and to look to see if drivers are still in their cars and may open their doors at any time.
If in a parking lot, do not walk behind cars that have their back up lights on; and continue to watch the vehicle for lights or movement.
Damages in Parking Accidents
If injured in a parking accident or any other accident where a driver parking a car or alighting from a parking spot collides with you or your vehicle, you are entitled to damages provided that driver was at fault. Always retain an experienced car accident lawyer for any injury claim. Statistics consistently show that injured claimants who hire car accident attorneys receive substantially more compensation than those who represent themselves.
Damages may include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future income loss
- Emotional distress
- Loss of earning capacity
- Diminished quality of life
- Permanent disability or disfigurement
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
Retain Attorney Neil Burns
Neil Burns is a Boston personal injury lawyer who handles back up accidents and parking accidents as well as all other injury claims. Even if your injury was in a low speed or impact collision, he can represent your interests and get you the compensation your injury deserves. Contact his office today for an analysis of your injury claim: 617-227-7423.