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Tricky Territory: Who's to Blame in a Parking Lot Accident

Surprisingly, twenty percent of all insurance claims filed are for car accidents occurring in parking lots according to the Institute for Highway Safety. Most parking lots are privately owned.  That means that they fall under private property driving laws which are put in place to protect both the general public and the owner.  Unless an injury has occurred or a crime has been committed, law enforcement does not have any jurisdiction over car accidents that occur on privately owned lots in Tennessee.  That means that Tennessee leaves it up to you and the other party involved in the accident to work out who was liable if no one is injured and no crime has occurred. 

If you have been hit by another vehicle while driving, in motion or stopped or you are a pedestrian that has been hit and has suffered injuries, it’s important to take the right steps to protect yourself and your rights.  Working out who’s fault the accident is can be tricky.   What one person might call an “intersection” may not be considered an intersection in the eyes of the law or even to your own insurance company.  A ruling in the case of Hickman v. Jordan, 87 S.W.3d 496, 499 (2001) states that “duties and liabilities of the driver of vehicle involved in an accident with pedestrian on private property were governed by the basic principles of common law negligence requiring each person to exercise ordinary and reasonable care under the circumstances.”

That said, in any accident, major or minor, injury or no injury, a police report is always a good idea as it documents the identities of the individuals as well as any auto insurance policies held, each person’s role in the accident as well as the damage to each person’s vehicle.  The officer may establish fault on the police report which will be helpful when submitting a claim to your insurance company and establishing liability. 

Serious injuries should of course be dealt with immediately with emergency medical treatment and follow-up care as recommended.  Though most parking lot accidents are minor, they can still cause injuries that you may not initially be aware of; many people can begin to suffer from whiplash hours after a collision. Listen to your body and treat as needed, making sure to tell your doctor each and every symptom you are suffering from since the time of the accident.  This makes a permanent record of your injury, should your injuries worsen or should you need to show proof of injury through your medical records.    

If you or someone you know has sustained injuries as a result of a being hit by a car in a parking lot in their vehicle, on a bike or on foot, due to the blurry lines of the law, you may be in for a bumpy ride trying to have your injuries compensated by the insurance company.  The experienced lawyers at Rocky McElhaney Law Firm are known for their success in cases with contested liability.  We don’t settle for mediocrity.  We fight the big insurance companies to get our clients the maximum compensation for their injuries.  The most important call you can make is to one of our attorneys who will sit down with you for free, review the details of your case and help you make the next move.