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Fast Food Drive-Through Accidents: Who is at Fault?

Fast Food Drive-Through Accidents: Who is at Fault?
Axelrod & Associates, P.A.

Drive-through accidents and car wrecks in the parking lots of fast food restaurants are more common than you might think.

Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Chik-Fil-A, Burger King, Sonic, Taco Bell, or any of the popular fast food restaurants in Myrtle Beach have high-traffic parking areas and a constant flow of traffic through their drive-throughs, with pedestrians walking to and from their cars and frustrated drivers who just want to get their food and get out of there…

With decades of experience handling car wrecks and getting maximum compensation for our clients in the Myrtle Beach area, your car crash attorney on the Axelrod team understands how these wrecks happen, how to determine who is at fault, and how to get full and fair compensation for accident victims.

In this article, we will cover the basics of fast food drive-through accidents, including:

  • How to determine who is at fault in a fast food drive-through accident or parking lot crash,
  • When you can sue the property owner for negligent design or negligent maintenance of their parking or drive-through area, and
  • Common causes of drive-through accidents.

Fast Food Drive-Through Accidents

One of the most common places for car wrecks to occur in Myrtle Beach is in the drive-through or parking lot areas of fast food restaurants. Although many of these crashes are low-speed or low-impact, they still result in injuries that range from minor to severe or even fatal, and the crash victims are often entitled to compensation from the at-fault driver who caused the crash.

Low-Impact Collisions

A low-speed, low-impact collision might result in property damage only, which can usually be compensated through the parties’ insurance companies without the aid of an attorney.

Many low-speed, low-impact collisions cause more damage than you might think, though, and you should always get checked out after a low-impact crash. Even a “minor” crash can cause injuries like:

The potential damage caused to a pedestrian or bicyclist in a fast food restaurant’s parking lot or drive-through can be catastrophic, even in a low-speed crash.

Fast Food Parking Lot Accidents

Fast food parking lot accidents are also common, including:

  • Pedestrian collisions – when a driver strikes a pedestrian while they are entering a parking space, leaving a parking space, or just driving through the parking lot,
  • A collision with a parked car – backing into a parked car, hitting a parked car as you drive by, or hitting another car or person with your car door as you open it,
  • Backing into a moving vehicle or driving forward into an oncoming vehicle as the driver leaves a parking space,
  • Confusion as some cars attempt to move through the parking lot as others are attempting to secure their place in the drive-through, or
  • Two vehicles colliding as they race to park in the same space.

Who is at Fault in a Fast Food Drive-Through Accident?

Just as with accidents on the open highway, the party who is negligent is responsible for the damage they cause.

If one party fails to keep a proper lookout, fails to use their turn signal, leaves their lane of travel, drives the wrong way, drives too fast for conditions, fails to yield the right-of-way, violates a traffic law, or breaches a duty owed to other drivers or pedestrians, they are negligent and can be liable for the crash.

Negligent Design/ Negligent Maintenance

In most cases, a driver or other individual will be responsible for a car wreck in a fast food drive-through or parking lot.

In some cases, however, the restaurant or property owner may also be liable due to their negligent design of the drive-through or parking lot or their failure to maintain the property.

A property owner might be liable for crashes that occur on their property if the lot and drive-through are poorly designed – for example, multiple lanes that go in multiple directions or cross one another, signs or arrows that are not clear or confusing, or parking spaces that are too small or that are unsafe due to the placement of the traffic lanes.

The property owner might also be liable for wear and tear on their parking lot and drive-through lanes, like potholes that cause a crash or damage vehicles, signs that are obstructed by foliage, or lines that have faded over time.

Common Causes of Fast Food Drive-Through Accidents

There are many different causes of fast food drive-through accidents and parking lot wrecks – by their nature, they are small spaces intended to accommodate a large amount of traffic including foot traffic, and, without careful planning and traffic management, there will be many collisions.

Rear-End Collisions

Rear-end collisions in drive-through lines are probably the most common type of collision at fast food restaurants – repeated braking and moving forward while fixing make-up, trying to read the menu through the windshield, frustration with how long they are taking, and possibly with the kids fussing in the back seat the entire time is a recipe for disaster.

Sideswipe Collisions

Sideswipe collisions are another common type of drive-through crash – many drive-throughs have multiple lanes, side by side, with drivers sometimes “jockeying” to get in the faster lane. In other cases, drivers are just trying to get through the parking lot when they sideswipe vehicles that are waiting in the drive-through lane.

Distracted Driving/ Eating While Driving

Distracted driving is one of the most common reasons for car wrecks anywhere, and fast food restaurants are one of the worst locations for it. People are often starving when they pull up to the drive-through window, and, as they are leaving, the first thing they do is fumble in their bag to grab some fries or a burger and start eating immediately as they drive off.

Improper Lane Changes

Changing lanes in the drive-through and trying to get into the fastest lane so you can get your food quicker can cause crashes, as well as people who move in or out of the drive-through lane unexpectedly as other vehicles are passing.

Pedestrian Accidents

Pedestrian accidents are unfortunately common at fast food restaurants, as people, including families with children, enter or leave the restaurant, walking across the parking lot as frustrated, hungry, and distracted drivers travel through the parking lot in their vehicles.

Speeding or Reckless Driving

When a driver “hits the gas” in a fast food restaurant’s parking lot or drive-through lane, there is the potential for severe accidents that can cause serious damage to property, occupants of other vehicles, or pedestrians.

Road Rage

Why would someone hit the gas as they drive through a fast food parking lot?

Road rage – fast food drive-throughs and parking areas are ripe for traffic accidents caused by angry drivers who are hungry, on their way home after a long day at work, frustrated by slow fast food workers, who may injure or kill someone in a momentary lapse of reason.

Got Axelrod?

If you have been hurt in a car crash in a fast food drive-through or parking lot that was caused by a negligent, careless driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.

Call your SC auto accident lawyer on the Axelrod team now at 843-258-4079 or send us a message for a free case evaluation.

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