Parking Lot Safety Experts Discuss Fatal Accident Outside Big Box Retailer


Parking Lot Expert WitnessThis case involves a shopper at a bix box retail chain who suffered a fatal accident while in the store’s parking lot. At the time of the incident in question, the man was leaving the store with his purchases and was proceeding through the parking lot to his car. Suddenly, the man was struck from the side by a car that was attempting to park in a vacant parking space behind the decedent. He was carried on the hood of the car for several feet until he was eventually pinned between the car and a steel bollard behind the space. The man suffered massive trauma in the accident and was immediately taken to the hospital, where he died of his wounds a few hours later. It was alleged that the design of the parking lot was unsafe, and directly contributed to the fatal accident.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Can you speak to design concepts/standards that should be used to account for traffic control in parking lots?
  • 2. What could have been done to avoid such an accident as described in the case summary?

Expert Witness Response E-008967

I have provided design consulting on many parking lots and structures, this is an area of expertise of mine. Avoiding accidents by drivers is difficult. The two concepts to explore are “best practice” for parking design and code requirements. You can determine what safety measures were utilized in the design to mitigate specific safety concerns on the site. Much of what what would be studied are specific geometry and sight line issues that have been addressed in the design.

Expert Witness Response E-000671

There are various means of controlling speed of vehicles within a parking lots. These range from posting speed limits, speed bumps or speed humps (they differ) or stop and yield signs at critical locations. Whether the driver violated any governing laws, in this case, varies with the jurisdiction or state and if they consider a parking lot private property not subject to governing regulations. this is generally not the case for purposes of speeding, reckless driving, etc.. The description does not make many physical features very clear, e.g., how does the handicapped sign and parking space figure into case except as to the injury; were there any controls, as described above, present; was driver in a lane with parked cars or along “access route” along stores or street or entering or exiting the lot. Obviously if no controls (signage, speed bumps, posted speed limits, etc) present than one or all would or could have mitigated or prevented the accident unless, of course, this was a case of reckless or drunk driving or the equivalent.

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