As North Texans head to shopping centers to find Christmas gifts this month, roads and parking lots will be crowded.
The mix of frenzied shoppers and packed parking lots can lead to a perfect storm of traffic accidents. When these accidents occur in parking lots, who is liable for damages or injuries?
Here’s what Texas law says on parking lot accidents:
Who’s at fault for parking lot accidents in Texas?
Texas is an at-fault state, meaning that the person who is at fault for the accident is liable for any injuries or loss that follow.
However, when it comes to assigning fault in parking lot accident, that’s where thing’s get tricky.
Dallas-based Genthe Law Firm gives these few parking lot accident examples:
Two cars back into one another: Both drivers could be at fault since the collision was caused while both vehicles were moving.
Car drives out of parking space and into traffic: The right-of-way belongs to the vehicle in traffic, meaning the driver who left the parking spot is at fault.
Car reverses out of parking space into passing vehicle: Both drivers could hold some level of responsibility since both vehicles were in motion. Nevertheless, the car reversing would likely bare most of the liability as they didn’t yield to the “through” lane.
Accident between two vehicles competing for same parking spot: Determining fault relates to a few factors including who made a left turn, how far each vehicle was in the spot, point of impact and speed before impact.
Rear-end crash at stop sign: Mostly, the driver who rear-ended the car would be at fault since they didn’t keep a safe distance between the vehicles.
What happens if you hit with a parked car in Texas?
Under Texas Transportation Code, if a driver collides with and damages an unattended vehicle they should:
Locate the operator or owner of the unattended vehicle and give that person the name and address of the operator and the owner of the vehicle that struck the unattended vehicle.
Leave in a conspicuous place in, or securely attach in a plainly visible way to, the unattended vehicle a written notice giving the name and address of the operator and the owner of the vehicle that struck the unattended vehicle and a statement of the circumstances of the collision.
Per section 550.024, if a person violates this offense they could be charged with a:
Class C misdemeanor — If the damage to all vehicles involved is less than $200.
Class B misdemeanor — If the damage to all vehicles involved is $200 or more.
Is it illegal to cut through a Texas parking lot?
Along with watching out for vehicles within parking lots, occasionally drivers will cut through these areas to avoid traffic.
Texas Transportation Code section 545.423 is strict on this manner, making it illegal for drivers to pass through a parking lot without stopping:
An operator may not cross a sidewalk or drive through a driveway, parking lot, or business or residential entrance without stopping the vehicle.
An operator may not cross or drive in or on a sidewalk, driveway, parking lot, or business or residential entrance at an intersection to turn right or left from one highway to another highway.
Violating this offense is punishable by a fine between $25 and $99.