A car accident can occur just about anywhere in Tampa. They can occur on a dirt road, a driveway, and even a parking lot. Accidents that occur in parking lots across our state and city have some very unique and sometimes peculiar characteristics from a legal perspective, and this particular kind of accident location is becoming more and more common and deadly. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) has reported that in 2014 there were 23,995 accidents in parking lots involving property damage in our state and five fatal accidents that occured in a parking lot.
In 2015, the DHSMV reported that 26,645 accidents occured in parking lots involving property damage and 20 fatal car accidents occured in parking lots that year. This means that over the course of a year parking lot accidents involving property damage increased by 11% and the number of fatal parking lot accidents quadrupled in our state. Despite the speed limit laws in parking areas and the enclosed nature of a parking lot environment, parking lot accidents can and do leave drivers and passengers with serious injuries. Moreover, the legal obstacles that face those involved in a parking lot accident normally complicate an already stressful situation.
Parking Lot Accident Laws in Tampa, FL
The problem with parking lot accidents begins with the jurisdiction of the local police officers to enforce traffic laws on private property. Generally, police officers are charged with conducting an initial investigation as to how a car accident occurred, and although a police officer’s determination of fault can be debated in a court of law, it serves as a starting point for a car accident attorney. Moreover, a police officer’s initial investigation yields and documents important information from an objective third party that is utilized by lawyers throughout the life of the case, but police officers can only enforce traffic laws on public roads under F.S.§316.006(1), not on private property.
This is one of the big issues with a car accident that occurs within a parking lot. In many instances, the police will not even come out to the scene of the accident due to a lack of jurisdiction, but there are exceptions to this rule which include:
- Accidents that Result in Serious Injuries: The police will normally come to the scene of a parking lot accident if the accident results in someone being seriously injured. Moreover, pursuant to F.S.§316.1955, it is illegal for any party involved in an accident, whether it is in the parking lot or not, that results in serious bodily injuries to leave the scene of an accident. So, handling the accident without consulting with the police department in this scenario is prohibited by law.
- Parking Lots Covered by an Agreement Under F.S.§316.006: F.S.§316.006(2)-(3) permits owners of privately owned roads, including parking lots, to enter into agreements with local counties and municipalities that allows police officers to enforce traffic laws on private property. As such, you should always check with the owner or manager of the parking lot to see if one of these agreements is in effect.
What to do if You are Involved in a Parking Lot Accident
Due to the specific provisions of our states laws, the responsibility is shifted to you, as a person involved in a parking lot accident, to document the specifics of the accident in the absence of a police officer on the scene. As such, below is a list of things you should do to properly document a parking lot accident:
- Get the other driver’s name and insurance information if possible
- Take pictures of everything including the damage to both cars, license plates, and the general scene of the accident
- Get the names and phone numbers of any witnesses
- Check to see if the business has security cameras that monitor the parking lot.
- Contact a car accident attorney
- Get evaluated by a doctor
Car Accident Attorney in Tampa, FL
1-800-INJURED is an attorney and medical referral service that connects car accident victims with our network of car accident attorneys in Tampa and other parts of Florida.
Car accidents that occur in a parking lot are complex and follow a unique set of legal principles. As such, you should always seek the assistance of a car accident attorney who is dedicated to obtaining a positive outcome to your claim. A personal injury lawyer will assist you with gathering evidence, initiating your claim, and holding the negligent driver responsible for your injuries. So, if you have been involved in a parking lot accident, call 1-800-INJURED today.