A truck skipped a curb and struck a boat and trailer today in the Nashville parking lot of Bass Pro Shop. The Tennessean reported the story here.
The three people injured were from Illinois and luckily, the Tennessean reports, their injuries are not life threatening. This personal injury car wreck reminded me that the traditional "rules of the road" usually do not apply in parking lots. Rightfully so, however, the driver was given a citation.
Many times parking lots do not have speed limits, marked lanes of travel and other safety precautions we are used to seeing on ordinary streets. Nevertheless, both common sense and Tennessee law create an obligation on the part of drivers of automobiles to exercise due care. TCA § 55-8-136 provides, "every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway...." TCA § 55-8-163 further says: "The driver of a vehicle shall not back such vehicle unless such movements can be made with reasonable safety and without interfering with other traffic."
However, on private property including parking lots, Tennessee Courts have held that neither the statutory rules of the road nor the common law rules pertaining to public roadways are applicable. See for example Hickman v. Jordan, 87 S.W.3d 496, 499 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2001). But, the statutory requirements help to determine the minimum standard of care. In Hickman, the Court held, "Conditions such as those found in a crowded parking lot may require a driver to use an even greater degree of care. The duty of a driver has been summarized as "a duty to keep a reasonably careful lookout commensurate with the dangerous character of the vehicle and the nature of the locality."