Who is Responsible If You Hit An Illegally Parked Car?

In South Carolina, hundreds of people are injured each year in car crashes involving parked vehicles. There are thousands more collisions that involve unattended, parked vehicles resulting in property damage alone.

(Source: South Carolina Department of Public Safety, South Carolina Traffic Collision Fact Book 2016)

It might seem like the person driving the moving vehicle is always at fault for hitting a parked vehicle in South Carolina. Usually, that’s the case.

But what happens when the car is illegally parked? Our Myrtle Beach car accident lawyers explain fault for car crashes involving illegally parked cars.

Who Is At Fault for Hitting an Illegally Parked Car in South Carolina?

Either party may be at fault if you hit an illegally parked car in South Carolina.

Parking the car illegally is usually negligence to some degree. However, the driver of the moving vehicle also bears some responsibility for avoiding the car even though it shouldn’t have been there.

Determining exactly who is at fault and their relative share of fault probably comes down to the exact circumstances of where the vehicle was illegally parked. To what extent was the illegally parked vehicle obstructing the roadway or creating a traffic hazard? Did the vehicle driver act negligently in failing to notice or take evasive action to avoid the parked car?

In most cases, the answer falls somewhere in between. However, it’s possible for either party to be solely at fault. It’s also possible for fault to be shared.

Evaluating the facts and the reasonableness of each party’s actions is critical to determining fault when an accident involves an illegally parked car.

What are the laws for vehicle parking in South Carolina?

South Carolina parking laws are found in S.C. Code Title 56 – Motor Vehicles, Chapter 5 – Uniform Act Regulating Traffic on Highways, § 56-5-2530, Stopping, standing or parking prohibited in specified places; exceptions.

When Is A Vehicle Illegally Parked in South Carolina?

A vehicle is considered illegally parked under S.C. Code § 56-5-2530 in any of the following circumstances:

  • In the road or street, in a crosswalk
  • On a sidewalk
  • In an intersection
  • Too close to a safety zone
  • In an excavation zone where it would obstruct traffic
  • On a highway bridge or in a highway tunnel
  • On railroad tracks
  • On a controlled-access highway, between a divided highway
  • Anywhere that traffic-control devices say no parking

There are exceptions for when a person is avoiding traffic conflicts or complying with directives from law enforcement or other traffic control devices.

There are also exceptions for federal mail carriers.

In addition to these regulations, it is illegal to stand or park a vehicle, except for quickly loading and disembarking passengers in a driveway, too closely to traffic signals, railroad crossings, fire hydrants and anywhere else prohibited by a traffic control device. The law gives lengths in feet for how close vehicles may be parked to certain types of fixtures and objects.

Rules for South Carolina state-owned parking facilities

The rules for state owned and operated parking facilities in South Carolina come from the S.C. Department of Administration, Parking Facilities and Parking Lots (Rev’d 2014). The Appropriations Act of 1986, Section 16 directs the S.C. Department of Administration, General Services Division, to create rules for parking lots and facilities within its control.

South Carolina Court Cases for Accidents Involving Parked Cars

A South Carolina court case that involved an accident with a parked car is Collins v. Bisson Moving Storage, Inc., (Ct. App. S.C. 1998). The victim was traveling on a South Carolina highway in heavy rain. Because of the rain, they stopped in the emergency lane to wait for better visibility. The vehicle behind them lost control and struck them. The victim was in their parked vehicle at the time of the crash.

Ambulance services started to transport the woman to the hospital. As the ambulance pulled onto the interstate, an 18-wheeler struck it. The victim was compensated $25,000 for injuries from the accident with her parked vehicle, and another $600,000 for the accident with the semi-truck. The case was affirmed on appeal for questions of causation and directed verdict.

What are your legal rights if you’re involved in an accident with an illegally parked car?

If you’re in an accident with an illegally parked car, you should know that your right to compensation is heavily dependent on what exactly the facts were at the time of the accident. The parked vehicle should not have been parked illegally, unless the driver had some excuse allowed by South Carolina law.

On the other hand, the moving vehicle should have watched for obstructions in their path and taken evasive action. There is plenty of blame to go around.

In any case where factual questions are determinative, the investigation takes center stage. Gather the evidence that you can to show where the vehicle was parked at the time of the crash. You may use this evidence to show that the vehicle was parked illegally and the extent to which it was blocking traffic. If there are parking lot surveillance videos, work as quickly as you can to have the videos preserved. Take names and contact information if there are any witnesses.

South Carolina’s comparative negligence law applies to accidents involving parked cars, S.C. Code 15-38-15. If the plaintiff is not more than half to blame for the accident, they may recover some compensation. Ultimately, it’s the jury that decides who has what percentage of fault for the accident. They make that decision based on the evidence and the legal arguments presented to them.

Lawyers for Car Accidents Involving a Parked Car

Have you been in a car accident involving a parked car? We invite you to meet with our car accident lawyers to talk about your case.

Whether you own the parked car or you were the driver of the moving vehicle, Maguire Law Firm can give you an honest evaluation of your rights and the compensation you might receive by bringing a claim. For a personalized review of your situation, contact us today.

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