Who’s at fault in a parking lot accident?

An auto accident in a parking lot is no fun. Even though speeds might be slow, they can still cause serious damage and be a serious hassle.

The Alabama Justice Center is the place to go for car accident lawyers in Alabama. Auto accident attorneys can help you figure out who pays in the case of an accident in a parking lot.

When an accident happens on private property such as a parking lot, there are four different parties who could be liable, or to blame.

  • You
  • The other driver
  • The owner of the property
  • The maker of the vehicle

(In an accident out of state? Go here.)

You or the other driver might be at fault.

Let’s take a look at how to determine which one is at fault. Usually the accident is either your fault or the other driver’s, and the indicators apply the same way for each. Some common indicators of fault for drivers include:

  • Not stopping at a stop sign
  • Backing out and hitting another car
  • Driving without legally required glasses
  • Driving without headlights on at night
  • Driving distracted by texting, being on the phone, eating, etc.
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

If one driver was doing any of these, it’s likely the accident is their fault legally. Of course, there are more factors that are considered when determining fault, but this is a good start.

(Texting accident? Read this.)

The property owner might be at fault.

In some auto accidents on private property, the owner of the property might be at fault. Property owner’s sometimes have a legal duty to keep their property safe for visitors. Here are some factors that might count against you, the visitor, and make it less likely the property owner is liable:

  • You aren’t driving in a place where you are supposed to drive. Such as a closed off section of the parking lot.
  • You were driving recklessly in the parking lot.

Here are some factors that might count against the property owner, making it more likely she is liable:

  • The parking lot is poorly maintained
  • Stop signs are not placed in the necessary places
  • Poorly marked lines, routes, or curbs
  • Failing to create a safe place for drivers
  • Not marking blind spots in the parking area
  • Not posting speed limit signs
  • Not securing the parking lot from intruders
  • Not installing security cameras.

If the property owner failed to do any of these, she may be liable for a single-car or multiple-car accident. If you think the property owner is at fault, be sure to request surveillance camera footage of the accident. You may be able to recover more money if the property owner is at fault.

The maker of the vehicle might be at fault.

In some more rare cases, the maker of the vehicle may be at fault. If the maker of the vehicle is at fault the case would become what’s called a products liability case. The vehicle manufacturer may be at fault if the accident was the result of a vehicle malfunction or defect. Factors that would make the manufacturer at fault include:

  • Brake failure
  • Power steering failure
  • Problem with the tires
  • Other problems with the car.


In any accident, a few different parties can be liable. A car accident on private property throws the property own into the mix. So if a car accident happens in a parking lot, the owner of the parking lot may be liable. You should treat this like a regular accident and document the scene, don’t admit fault, try to get witnesses, and contact an attorney.

(Find out why you might need an attorney here.)