Question: On Tacoma Mall Boulevard near South 72nd Street, the road curves outside the shopping center where Home Depot and Harborstone Credit Union are.
All around that curve, there are cars parked along the street in an area where I didn’t think you could park because it blocks the view of where you’re going.
Who’s at fault if there’s an accident while a car parked like that is blocking the view, which is even more obstructed with the day workers standing along the sidewalk ?
— Gary U., Lakewood
Answer: That might look like an odd place to park, but it’s quite legal.
A few yards north from the entrance to the shopping center, there are two-hour-limit parking signs affixed to a couple of streetlights. As to why parking is allowed there when the nearby businesses — the shopping center and Vern Fonk Insurance, most notably — each appear to have ample space is a whole other question.
But legal it is, and this remains a free country. Park there to enjoy the invigorating exercise, perhaps, of lugging your heavy home-improvement purchases downhill. Please remember to return your cart.
Even if it wasn’t legal to park along that Interstate 5-adjacent commercial strip, the authorities aren’t going to blame a parked car for a moving-vehicle accident under most circumstances.
Tacoma police spokeswoman Loretta Cool said an illegally parked car that obstructs a driver’s vision might be ticketed or impounded, and might be listed as a contributing factor in the police paperwork. That’s about it.
The civil courts are another matter.
A lawsuit might end up costing money to someone whose improper parking was found to be a factor in a wreck, said attorney Scott Leist of Issaquah, a former Seattle cop and prosecutor.
Most times, he said, it would require a vehicle “truly parked terribly — out in the road when it’s pitch-black dark and raining, in a blind turn, out in the road” to find the driver of the moving car blameless.
“It’s the same reason why, if you’re following somebody and they’re driving like an idiot — going really slow, paying no attention — and you collide with them, you’re usually the one who’s going to be blamed,” Leist said, “because you have complete vision of them, and you’re the one that’s supposed to be responsible.”