Parking Lots – A Magnet for Car Accidents

Colorado personal injury attorney Mack Babcock wants to assist you in receiving compensation from any damages or injuries you received in your car accident.


People are supposed to drive slowly in parking lots, but serious accidents and fatalities can and do occur regardless – often involving pedestrians, other vehicles or shopping carts. Many times, drivers in parking lots tend to have everything but driving on their mind. This, along with the chaotic nature of parking lots, makes them a magnet for car accidents.

According to the National Safety Council, tens of thousands of crashes occur in parking lots and garage structures annually, resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries.

Any busy parking lot or parking garage during rush hour or the holidays is more prone to fender benders and crashes, but accidents are especially common outside of:

  • Airports
  • Bars and breweries
  • Downtown buildings
  • Grocery stores and supermarkets
  • Gyms
  • Schools
  • Shopping malls

For example, in September 2020, a driver at Denver International Airport died when his car crashed on the 6th floor of the parking garage and fell 2 levels down, bursting into flame. While this is an extreme case compared to most parking lot fender benders, it's just one example of how deadly and dangerous parking lots and garages can be.

If you've been in a crash, it's important to understand how liability and fault play out under Colorado's parking lot accident laws, what to do if you get hurt and what you can do to prevent a collision in the first place.

Who's At Fault in a Parking Lot Car Accident?

Determining who is at fault in a parking lot accident can depend on a variety of issues. Below are several examples of common accidents that occur in parking lots and who is usually held liable depending on the situation:

Who's responsible if a driver gets rear-ended in a parking lane?

In rear-end car accidents, fault almost always lies with the driver who hits a car from behind.It is each driver's responsibility to stay far enough behind another car so that they have ample time to suddenly brake if necessary.


Who's liable when 2 cars collide while backing out of 2 different spaces?

Generally, these kinds of accidents will be the fault of both vehicles. It is the responsibility of both drivers to make sure that no one is coming down the parking lane or that another vehicle is not backing up at the same time.


Who's at fault when a driver backs out and hits a vehicle driving down the parking lane?

Fault in backing up accidents generally falls to the driver who was backing out of the parking space. The car coming down the parking lane has the right of way. An exception may be if the driver was coming down the parking lane at a high rate of speed. Always pull out of your space slowly and look both ways before pulling all the way out of the space.


Who's liable when a driver turns in front of an oncoming car to get a parking space?

When fights for parking spaces happen, especially on weekends and during the holiday season, accidents can be an issue. Responsibility will generally fall to the driver who pulled in front of the oncoming vehicle. Wait patiently for a space instead of getting into an altercation. It isn't worth it.


Who's at fault when a driver pulls forward and hits a vehicle driving down the parking lane?

Once again, these accidents are usually the fault of the driver pulling forward because they should have made certain no one was coming before pulling out.


Who's at fault in a car accident when backing up?

Again, in this situation, it's usually the responsibility of the driver who is backing up to yield the right of way to any vehicles driving behind them—whether you're backing out of a parking space, driveway, alley or elsewhere.


Who's at fault when a driver in a parking lot hits a pedestrian while pulling out, pulling forward or driving down the parking lane?

It is the responsibility of both pedestrians and drivers to be cautious and alert in a parking lot. Liability in this situation depends on the unique circumstances of the accident.

Parking Lot Driving Safety Tips

Considering that 1 in every 5 motor vehicle incidents occur in a parking lot, it is wise to consider some simple safety suggestions when you are driving or walking in a parking lot or garage:

  • Drive slowly and cautiously. You will eventually find a space and get to your destination. Look multiple times if necessary to make sure there are no vehicles or pedestrians behind you or headed your way.
  • Use your rear backup system and other technology. There is so much technology now that can assist in safe driving and prevent backing up accidents. Listen for those warning sounds that go off when your car is trying to alert you of a car, object or person behind you.
  • Watch for stray carts. Avoid parking near a stray cart that can slam into your vehicle with the slightest gust of wind.
  • Avoid parking too close to another vehicle. If it's a struggle getting your car to fit into a space, it is probably best to find a different parking spot. On a windy day, your car door could slam into the vehicle beside you when you open it, causing you to be responsible for damage.

Parking Lot Driving Safety Tips


If you are involved in a parking lot accident, it's wise to obtain a police report as well as exchange insurance information. Take as many photos as possible and secure any witness information.

IIf you are involved in any type of Colorado auto accident, contact experienced car accident and personal injury attorney Mack Babcock for your free consultation.

To learn more, browse our comprehensive (PDF) Colorado Car Accident Guide.

Disclaimer: While The Babcock Law Firm tirelessly works to obtain successful outcomes for its clients, prior positive outcomes are no guarantee of future success. Indicating prior positive results is in no way intended to guarantee future results.

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