Right-of-Way and Staying Safe in Texas Parking Lots

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Brett Pritchard Law

Updated on August 23, 2022

When you are driving through a parking lot, you may consider reckless drivers as part of the deal, but that should not be the case. Parking lots harbor many dangers, and they are frequently the site of serious car accidents.

Understanding the right-of-way in parking lots can help, but many drivers simply ignore the rules when it comes to parking lots, so it is always in your best interest to proceed with extreme caution.

If you are involved in an accident in a parking lot, contact an experienced Killeen personal injury attorney immediately. He or she will help you get the compensation you need to recover physically, emotionally, and financially.

Parking Lot Safety

Whether you are heading to the grocery store, picking up kids from school, or running those last-minute errands that inevitably crop up, you are going to be spending time in parking lots. Knowing the risks that lurk in parking lots—as well as how to avoid them—can help you stay safe out there.

Avoid Distractions

When it comes to parking lots, the biggest danger is driver distraction. The National Safety Council (NSC) shares that parking lots are more dangerous than most people realize. In fact, there are tens of thousands of injuries and hundreds of fatalities caused by accidents in parking lots and parking structures every year.

Common Distractions

In a poll conducted by NSC, respondents shared the distractions they tend to engage in while driving through parking lots:

  • Sixty-six percent of drivers throughout the nation report that they make phone calls while driving in parking lots.

  • Sixty-three percent of drivers throughout the nation report that they program their GPS systems while driving in parking lots.

  • Fifty-six percent of drivers throughout the nation report that they text while driving in parking lots.

  • Fifty-three percent of drivers throughout the nation report that they engage in personal grooming while driving in parking lots.

  • Fifty-two percent of drivers throughout the nation report that they interact with social media while driving in parking lots.

  • Fifty percent of drivers throughout the nation report that they send and receive emails while driving in parking lots.

  • Forty-nine percent of drivers throughout the nation report that they take pictures or watch videos while driving in parking lots.

In addition, motorists are likely to be distracted by to-do lists, other passengers, or anything else on their minds. As such, it is of critical importance to stay focused and alert.

Stay Alert

NSC shares that driving slowly is not the only means you have of making parking lots safer places. Consider the following safety tips:

  • Stay in your designated lane and carefully follow the arrows designating the driving direction.

  • Do not cut across parking lots (it amounts to cutting across multiple lanes of traffic).

  • Drive slowly and purposefully, using your blinkers as appropriate.

  • Anticipate what other drivers are likely to do (and assume they do not see you).

  • Carefully adhere to all posted signs, including speed limits, stop signs, and no-parking signs.

  • Use extra care when backing out of your parking spot.

  • Be on the lookout for pedestrians, especially small children and adults pushing baby strollers.

Use Technology Wisely

Government data analyzed by NSC finds that nine percent of fatal pedestrian accidents in parking lots are the result of cars backing up. Even though many vehicles come equipped with cameras that allow you to see what is behind you when you reverse, you should not rely solely on this view.

The fact is that the camera lens can become obstructed, and the lens can also miss things that are very close and low. Always look over your shoulder before backing up (and engage your mirrors in the process). It is also a good idea to do a quick visual sweep around your car before getting in.

Whenever possible, it is a good idea to pull through to a forward parking position, which eliminates the need to back up when you pull out.

While your car may also have a safety system that alerts you to other vehicles in your blind spots, these monitoring systems are far less effective at detecting bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians. Always proceed with caution.

Right-of-Way in Texas Parking Lots

Understanding the right-of-way in parking lots can help you avoid dangerous situations and keep you safe.

Pedestrians and Right-of-Way

It stands to reason that motorists should yield to pedestrians in parking lots whenever possible. After all, motorists are encased in the safety of a large metal vehicle while absolutely nothing comes between a pedestrian and the impact of an accident.

There are several right-of-way rules that apply to pedestrians. If you are walking in a parking lot, you should always adhere to these rules for your own safety:

  • Pedestrians always have the right-of-way in parking lot crosswalks, but they should always make sure it is safe to cross before doing so.

  • When crossing a parking lot aisle, pedestrians generally have the right-of-way, but they should wait to ensure that all vehicles stop for them.

  • When walking down a parking lot aisle (facing traffic), pedestrians have the right-of-way over those vehicles that are backing out of their parking spaces.

When you are a pedestrian in a parking lot, always err on the side of caution—it is better to be safe than sorry.

Vehicles and Right-of-Way

When you are behind the wheel and are entering or are maneuvering through a parking lot, you should always put safety first and should be aware of the following basic right-of-way rules:

  • When backing out of a parking space, you must yield the right-of-way to other motorists and to pedestrians in the aisle. This holds unless there is a stop or yield sign that specifically affords parked cars the right-of-way when exiting their parking spots.

  • When making a left-hand turn into an aisle in the lot, you must cede the right-of-way to oncoming traffic. When making a right-hand turn into an aisle, you have the right-of-way, but you must accommodate any activity in your path, such as cars that are parking, cars that are pulling out of parking spaces, and pedestrians.

  • When you are pulling out of a parking lot, the motorists already on the road you are pulling onto and any pedestrians walking on the sidewalk you are crossing have the right-of-way. This means that you must wait for a safe opening to join the flow of traffic.

For more information about right-of-way and fault in parking lot car accidents, contact a car accident attorney in Killeen, Texas.

Common Parking Lot Accidents

While there is no limit to the kinds of accidents that can happen in parking lots, there are certain types of parking lot accidents that are very common:

Two Cars Backing Up

One of the most common parking lot accidents occurs when two vehicles back up out of their parking spots into one another. The problem may be that the drivers fail to look, or they may fail to see one another due to their blind spots.

If both drivers are moving at the time of the accident, neither is likely to have the right-of-way, and they both may be determined to share fault (depending upon the circumstances). If one car is moving and the other is not, the driver in the moving vehicle is very likely at fault (as long as the driver that parked or stopped the other car did so legally and appropriately).

Backing into an Oncoming Vehicle

When a motorist backs out of a parking spot and hits another vehicle in the parking lot through lane, he or she is likely to be at fault. Drivers who are leaving their lane of traffic must yield the right-of-way to vehicles that are already in motion, which means that the driver that is backing out is responsible for waiting until it is safe to proceed.

Vehicles Colliding While Vying for a Parking Spot

On some occasions, parking spots can be hard to come by. Some overly aggressive drivers are not afraid to play chicken for parking spots, and it can lead to dangerous parking lot accidents.

Pedestrian Accidents

Motorists who drive through parking lots in distraction mode are far more likely to cause life-threatening pedestrian accidents. Always be aware of where pedestrians are and give them the right-of-way when appropriate.


When a motorist uses a parking lot like his or her own personal motorway, fails to follow the safety rules of the parking lot, or cuts across lanes with impunity, he or she makes colliding with another vehicle or a pedestrian in the parking lot much more likely.

No matter what kind of accident you’ve been involved in, a personal injury lawyer from The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard can help. Contact us today to get started on your car accident claim.

The Elements of Your Parking Lot Accident Claim

If you have been in a parking lot accident, and you were not at fault, you should bring a parking lot accident claim to court. In order to bring a successful claim, specific legal elements must be present. Consult with a Killeen personal injury attorney to make sure you have everything you need to win your car accident case.

Duty of Care

To begin, the other driver must have owed you a duty of care. Every motorist owes everyone else on the road—and in the parking lot—a serious duty of care that includes following the rules, regulations, and restrictions that apply to a driving situation. This means driving distraction-free, yielding the right-of-way as required, and proceeding with caution generally.

Duty Breached

The next element of your parking lot accident claim is that the at-fault driver must have breached the duty of care owed to you. This means that, if he or she engaged in any of the following risky driving behaviors, the driver breached the duty of care owed to you:

  • Drove at a speed that exceeded the posted speed limit (which is naturally very low in a parking lot) or that was too fast for the parking lot’s condition

  • Failed to adhere to any other posted traffic lights, signs, or signals

  • Failed to yield the right-of-way

  • Allowed himself or herself to become distracted by anything other than moving through the parking lot safely

  • Engaged in aggressive driving practices, such as aggressively nabbing a parking space

For example, if a speeding motorist whose nose was in his or her phone slammed into you at a stop sign, it is fairly clear that the duty of care owed to you was breached.

Direct Cause

The next element of your claim is that the at-fault driver’s negligence must have been the direct cause of the injury-causing parking lot accident in question. In the example above in which the distracted driver slammed into you while you were stopped at a stop sign, there is little room to argue that the distracted driver’s negligence (or breach of the duty of care owed) didn’t cause the ensuing parking lot accident.

Legal Damages

Finally, the accident in question must have caused you to suffer legal damages (or losses) that you can address in a parking lot accident claim, such as the following:

FAQ about Parking Lot Accidents

If you have been injured in a parking lot accident, the answers to the following frequently asked questions may help you find your best path forward.

Do I Need a Car Accident Attorney?

While you are certainly not required to hire a car accident attorney, doing so allows you the best chance of recovering fully from your physical, financial, and emotional losses. An experienced Killeen personal injury lawyer can help you gather the evidence you need to win your case and get compensation for your losses. Contact a personal injury lawyer now to get started.

What Does Pain and Suffering Cover?

Pain and suffering refers to the physical pain and emotional anguish you suffer as a result of the other driver’s negligence. It can be difficult to identify and assign a value to this damage, but it is important to do so. The pain and suffering common to car accidents can be one of the most difficult forms of damage to overcome, and you deserve to be compensated for this damage.

Common signs of psychological pain often include these behaviors:

  • Severe mood swings

  • Bouts of depression

  • Increased anxiety, which can include anxiety attacks

  • Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • A tendency to self-isolate

  • Flat affect

  • Feelings of hopelessness

How Expensive Is a Car Accident Attorney?

It is only natural to be concerned about how you are going to cover your legal expenses when you have been injured, have considerable medical expenses, and are facing lost earnings.

There is, however, good news. Most reputable Texas car accident attorneys take cases like yours on what is known as a contingency basis. This means that your attorney’s pay will be based on (contingent upon) the outcome of your claim.

If your claim prevails and you receive either a settlement or court award, your car accident attorney will receive a prearranged percentage of your compensation. If it does not, you won’t owe anything.

What Can I Do to Help Protect My Parking Lot Accident Claim?

While your parking lot accident claim will be unique to the circumstances involved, there are some basic steps you can take to help ensure that both your health and claim are well protected:

  • Seek the medical attention that you need as soon after the accident as it is possible to do so.

  • Carefully follow all the medical instructions and advice you receive from your doctor.

  • Consult with a dedicated car accident attorney sooner rather than later.

  • Allow your seasoned car accident attorney to handle the insurance company, including providing it with the information it needs and skillfully negotiating for fair terms that cover your damages in their entirety.

  • Lay low on social media and avoid talking about the accident (the insurance company is lurking—waiting for you to say something that it can twist to its own advantage).

If You Are Injured in a Parking Lot, Consult with an Experienced Killeen Personal Injury Attorney

Parking lot accidents are not uncommon, and they are often due to negligent drivers who fail to consider the safety of others adequately. If another driver's negligence leaves you injured in a parking lot accident, you need legal help.

Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is an experienced personal injury attorney who is committed to skillfully advocating on behalf of the compensation to which you are entitled. We are here to help, so please do not hesitate to contact us online or call us at (254) 781-4222 for more information today.

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