For a motorcycle rider in Spokane, a parking lot can be as dangerous as a street. At times, motorcycles seem invisible to the average motor vehicle driver. Bikes have a low profile, and drivers are trained to look for other cars and trucks and often don’t see a motorcycle.
At Crary, Clark, Domanico, & Chuang, P.S., we strongly believe that a motorcycle rider should have the same rights to the roads, highways and even parking lots that other vehicle operators have. When a rider goes down, we fight hard to get them justice so they can get back on their bike and out on the open road.
Why are Parking Lots so Dangerous?
The first factor is the low visibility of the motorcyclist, and the next is that car drivers are less vigilant in a parking lot. According to a study by the National Safety Council, they found that as high as 66 percent of all drivers pull into parking lots distracted and fail to focus on other drivers, motorcycles and pedestrians around them.
A rising trend in parking lot distraction is the cell phone. When a motorist turns in a parking lot, they feel that it’s now ok to start texting or using their phone.
Another problem in parking lots for motorcycles are potholes and poor surface conditions. Since a parking lot isn’t being driven on at high speeds, when a pothole or crack forms, it isn’t considered a priority to fix. For a car going at slow speeds, this is usually just an annoyance, but for a motorcycle, it can mean a trip to the pavement and then to the hospital.
Types of Accidents in Parking Lots
There are two primary accident types in a motorcycle parking lot accident. One is an impact by the cyclist into a car sending the rider over the handlebars and on the pavement. Even though the car sustains little damage in many cases, the motorcyclist can be seriously injured.
The other is when a car comes around a corner or into the path of the motorcycle, and the rider has to lay down the bike to keep from hitting the car. This can also cause serious injuries when the rider hits the pavement.
Common Parking Lot Injuries
At Crary, Clark, Domanico, & Chuang, P.S, we’ve seen the devastation that a parking lot crash can cause. The speeds and impacts may be low, but the results can be serious and even tragic. We have experience in helping a motorcycle rider or passenger in all types of accidents and all types of injuries. Some of them common to a parking lot accident are:
- Traumatic Brain Injury: Whether thrown over the handlebars or hitting the pavement from a lay-down, the head can be easily injured, and the injuries can be serious.
- Road Rash: Especially in a lay-down accident, a rider can experience the pain of a burn injury from sliding on the asphalt. These can the same as first, second or third-degree burns.
- Broken Ribs: When thrown over the handlebars, the chest and ribs can sustain a significant impact. A displaced rib fracture can require surgery and long recovery time.
- Broken Wrists: In a parking lot crash, the rider usually has a moment to take some defensive action, and many times this means tightening his or her grip on the handlebars which can result in a wrist fracture.
Who has the Right-of-Way?
There are few laws that address parking lot driving in Washington state, and liability often comes down to which driver was acting with proper care and caution and which was being careless or negligent. Most Parking lots are on private property, and the right-of-way is usually very nebulous. Broadly speaking, if someone is already in a “lane” between stalls or parking spots, they have the right-of-way over someone entering the same lane.
When backing out, the driver must look behind them and see if someone is already traveling in that “lane.” However, when a parking lot case goes to trial, the court will look to see which person was executing proper caution.
What if I’m Hurt in a Parking Lot Accident in Spokane?
If you are riding your bike and are injured in a parking lot accident, it may be up to you to get pictures, names of any witnesses and even the information about the other car and driver. For police, accidents in parking lots are of a low priority unless the injuries and/or property damage is serious.
Don’t talk to anyone form the driver’s insurance company until you have spoken to a Spokane Motorcycle Attorney to find out your rights under the law. At Crary, Clark, Domanico, & Chuang, P.S., we offer a free consultation where you are advised of the law and your right and can have your specific case evaluated. Call us at (509) 926-4900 or send us a message online.