The Parking Lot 50/50 Fault Myth

Parking lots are constantly jammed with cars, shopping carts, and people moving in all different directions in one small area of roadway. It’s no wonder that they are one of the most common locations for car accidents to occur. But when one happens, is it really a 50-50 split, regardless of whose fault the collision was?

Cars in the parking lot

The Myth

Despite the almost-daily urban experience of having to park a car, a dangerous urban myth persists that accidents which take place in parking lots are “50-50”. In other words, if two cars crash inside a parking lot, both drivers involved are automatically deemed as being equally at fault, no matter who was doing what. This myth claims that since there are so many collisions occurring in parking lots, it's easier for insurance companies to determine an accident as 50-50 by default, than to actually investigate and determine who caused the accident. 

The Truth

You heard it here first: This is a myth.

In Nova Scotia, auto insurance companies and lawyers use the fault determination rules (a regulation under the Insurance Act) to help determine who is to blame for a car accident in various traffic scenarios. In a parking lot accident, there are two things that all drivers should remember:

  • Drivers travelling on the main roads or sections have the right of way over other driver travelling elsewhere in the parking lot (ie. the feeder lanes). The collision-causing driver who fails to yield the right of way to a driver travelling along the parking lot’s main thoroughfare is 100% to blame for an accident.
  • Any driver who tries to leave a parking space and fails to yield the right of way to a passing driver and causes an accident is 100% to blame for the collision.