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Parking lot collisions: Frequent and serious

Most drivers have had a near miss with another vehicle in a parking lot. It is an unsettling experience, but usually, no injuries occur.  

Even though parking lots are an innocent, everyday sight in America, they are not always safe places for drivers or shoppers. Accidents are common. For every five car accidents, one of them occurred in a parking lot. They can cause severe or even hidden injuries.

Random objects in motion

A lot of simultaneous activity occurs in a parking lot, mainly when people run a quick errand after work or arrive en masse during a chain store's biggest sale of the year. Determined holiday shoppers aggressively claim parking spaces. Store lots built to accommodate a normal amount of traffic can reach overflow capacity.

Businesses such as grocery stores can present additional hazards. Often, a rogue shopping cart rolls out between parked cars or escapes from a harried shopper trying to load groceries.

Pedestrians can be especially vulnerable

A driver must carefully observe vehicles entering or leaving a parking space or the main lot entrance or exit. At the same time, shoppers are milling around, perhaps trying to find their cars or deciding on the next store to visit. Some pedestrians wander across the pavement towing children by the hand. Accomplished escape artists, even toddlers can make Houdini look like an amateur.  

What to do if an accident occurs

The National Safety Council reports that over 100,000 parking lot accidents occur annually. Severe types of brain injury can happen in a "minor" accident, and the damage may not become apparent for many hours or days. No person struck by another vehicle should assume nothing is wrong. The lightness or heaviness of an impact does not necessarily correlate with injury presence or severity.

Even a mild degree of contact with you or your vehicle can result in long-term medical problems. People can feel fine, go home and a day or so later develop dizziness, nausea, double-vision or other ominous signs. They may need to head for the emergency room rather than tough it out with a wait-and-see attitude; in the meantime, a bleed in the brain could spread, causing disability or even a fatality due to treatment delay.

Do not admit fault. If anyone feels pain or appears disoriented, call an ambulance. Get the other driver's license and auto insurance information. Also, ask bystanders if they would act as witnesses and note their contact information. Then, notify police to establish an accident report. If you can, take photos of the damage to both vehicles and license plates. Include pictures of the pavement, including glass or car parts on the ground. Notify your auto insurance company. Most importantly, do not hesitate to immediately contact help from those who can work to protect your rights.

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