Pandemonium in the Parking Lot (When Black Friday Shoppers Take it Outside)

While Black Friday injuries often entail in-store tug-of-wars over limited items or people being crushed by anxious crowds stampeding through the doors, parking lot accidents and altercations also increase during these holiday events. Increased distractions, large crowds, and parking lot road rage contribute to fender benders, backover accidents, and violent behaviors that lead to serious injuries or even death. Retailers and business owners have a responsibility to maintain a safe environment for all shoppers inside their stores and in their parking lots.

Parking lot accidents and injuries

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), approximately 20 percent of all auto accidents occur in the parking lots of supermarkets, malls, or other retail outlets. That is about 50,000 crashes every year that result in more than 60,000 people injured and 500 deaths. Since Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year, the risk for parking lot injuries escalates during the days surrounding Thanksgiving. People are more likely to text and talk on their phone in parking lots than when on the highway. Distracted pedestrians and large crowds add to the risk of auto accidents. More than half of back over accidents occur in parking lots, typically when a vehicle pulls out of a parking space and backs into a pedestrian.

Parking lot road rage

Altercations are also more likely to occur during Black Friday events. Matthew McGraw was shot and killed on November 24, 2016, in the parking lot of a Reno, NV Walmart. Police say McGraw broke out another driver’s car window and hit him in the face with a metal baton. The driver pulled out a gun and shot McGraw. Witnesses say, the shooter had accidentally cut off McGraw and the situation quickly escalated. That same weekend, there was a parking lot shooting in Atlantic City, New Jersey that left one man dead and his brother seriously injured. Another shooting had already taken place on Thursday of that week in the parking lot of Memphis, Tennessee’s Wolfchase Galleria Mall.

Black Friday fights

News stories about fistfights during Black Friday shopping are commonplace. Anxious shoppers often come to blows over parking spaces and “doorbuster” sale items that are in limited supply. Who is liable for injuries sustained during Black Friday sales events and in the parking lots of stores is not always clear. An experienced premises liability lawyer can advise injured parties of their best course of legal action based on the specifics of their case.

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