Cars crashing into buildings aren’t just the stuff of movies. They happen all too often. When cars collide with buildings (called car incursions), the consequences can be catastrophic. The people inside the building have no protection from the vehicle and no way of even anticipating the collision so they can get out of the way. Drivers who are so out of control that they collide with a building are likely to be seriously injured or die from the crash.
According to the Storefront Safety Council:
- There are nearly 100 car incursions in the US every day
- 16,000 people on average are injured each year from car incursions
- 2,600 people die each year in storefront crashes – about 7 deaths each day
- 24% of these storefront crashes involve retail stores
Other common locations where cars crash into buildings are convenience stores and restaurants – especially where drivers can park very close the entrances. Personal injury victims and fatal accident victims include pedestrians, store patrons, and the people who work inside the buildings.
What solutions could help reduce building strike car accidents?
The Storefront Safety Council reviewed more than 25,000 crashes between 2104 and 2022 to arrive at the figures above. The Council’s review also includes analyzing some solutions storeowners might consider implementing to reduce the number of storefront incursions.
These strategies include the following designs and precautions:
- Better parking lot design measures. Installing a safety barrier or bollard at the end of parking spaces may help reduce the number of car accidents that cause building collisions, as many parking spaces are just inches or feet away from the front of the store. The barriers would provide some protection and some warning to users of the store.
- Realigning where people can park. The odds of a building strike accident decrease the farther away the parking slots are away from the building. Except for handicapped parking, other drivers can walk a few extra feet in return for a reduction in building strike accidents.
- Responding to prior incidents. If there is an accident, the building owner shouldn’t just rely on the insurance company for the driver to take responsibility for the accident. The owner should review why the crash occurred and work with traffic and building professionals to determine what remedies may prevent other similar crashes. There may be cost-effective practical solutions.
According to Katom Restaurant Supply Inc. and Rob Reiter, a leading expert in storefront crashes and founder of The Storefront Safety Council, some states are even considering building code legislation to address the problem of car incursions, noting that “California passed a basic measure that became law in 2017.” Reiter expects that “building codes requiring greater protection for pedestrians, patrons, and employees will be coming online as the code updating process goes through its five-year cycle.” He also emphasized that better parking lot design and safety barriers should be taken into consideration when implementing any new legislation.
Who is responsible for a storefront crash?
Drivers who crash into a retail store, a convenience store, or any other type of building are almost, by definition, acting negligently. The building is right there. It’s not moving. There’s no reason a car, truck, or a driver of any vehicle should strike a stationary object.
One of the more common reasons drivers cause building store accident is pedal error. A driver may hit the accelerator instead of the brake, causing the vehicle to lurch forward into the store. A driver may also think he/she is driving in reverse, when the car is actually in “drive,” causing the car to go forward.
Some of the other reasons drivers should be held accountable for any injuries, deaths, or damage they cause include:
- The driver was distracted. Common distractions include talking on a cellphone, eating or drinking while driving, focusing on someone in the car or a pet in the car, and anything that takes the driver’s eyes off of what’s directly in front of them.
- The driver was under the influence. If a driver crashes into a building, there’s a reasonable chance the driver consumed too many drinks or was under the influence of drugs.
- Traffic violations. Other causes of building strikes include speeding, improper turns, and other traffic violations.
- Driver fatigue. Tired drivers often make stupid mistakes like driving into buildings.
If a driver is negligent, then the owners of the vehicle (if different than the driver) may also be liable for the building strike because owners are generally responsible for the conduct of the people they allow to drive their vehicles.
An employer may be liable for the actions of their employee. If, for example, a truck driver crashes into a store while making a delivery, the company that hired the truck driver may also be responsible.
The owner of the store or the building area may also bear some responsibility. Our experienced Vancouver and Battle Ground car accident lawyers will review whether there is any history of accidents near or in the building. A history of prior accidents indicates that conditions around the store may be a contributing factor. Some of these contributing factors may include poor lighting, poor visibility, confusing signage, unclear driving paths, and other causes.
At Philbrook Law Firm, our personal injury lawyers have been fighting for car accident victims and other accident victims for several decades. We work with investigators, construction engineers, and other professionals and with witnesses to show how a building strike accident happened and who is responsible. We demand compensation for all your medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages. We file wrongful death claims when a loved one is killed due to any type of accident.
To speak with our Vancouver, WA and Battle Ground, WA personal injury lawyers, call our offices or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment. We handle personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis.
Founding Attorney Matthew Philbrook attended Clark College, Washington State University, and Gonzaga University School of Law. He is a member of the Washington State and Oregon State Bar Associations and started Philbrook Law Office in 2005. He specializes in Personal Injury, DUI and Criminal Defense cases. Learn more about Mr. Philbrook.