Parking Lot Injuries and Your Options to Sue
Even on a slow day, parking lots are rife with opportunities for car accidents as drivers navigate backing into and out of spaces. When a person is injured in this situation, the other driver seems like the obvious cause, but there may liability for the parking lot owner/operator, based on premises liability, that should not be overlooked. People walking to and from their cars could slip and fall onto the hard surface. An ex-NFL player tragically died after falling in a parking lot and striking his head on the ground. Other issues that could result in injuries are unsafe lot conditions that cause a car accident and unchecked criminal activity. Depending on the circumstances of the injury, assessing the potential liability of the parking lot operator/owner is important to receiving full compensation for the injury.
Premises Liability Generally
All property owners have a duty to keep the premises in a safe condition for visitors and guests. This includes inspecting the grounds for potential hazards, correcting any issues, and notifying patrons about areas that are potentially dangerous. Similar to department stores keeping aisles clear from debris and wet surfaces, parking lot owners/operators have the obligation to keep the premises in a safe condition for driving and walking. If the owner/operator fails to maintain the property, they face potential legal liability for negligence.
Slip and Fall
Because parking lots are exposed to the elements, and susceptible to whatever substances drivers bring into the area on their vehicles, the potential for a slip and fall is not insignificant. Parking lot owners/operators must take steps to limit the presence of issues in a parking lot that could cause person to slip and fall, with the appropriate amount of diligence dependent on the weather or other varying conditions. Thus, if the operator/owner knew about an issue that could increase the chance of slipping and failed to fix it or post a warning, the operator/owner could be liable. Further, if the operator/owner failed to regularly check on the condition of the parking lot, especially if inclement weather is present, and someone is injured, the operator/owner could be liable in this instance as well.
Beyond slick surfaces, parking lot owner/operators have a duty to make sure the property is properly maintained. This means issues like breaks in the surface, holes, or rebar sticking out of parking space markers must be quickly identified and fixed in a timely manner. While the parking lot owner/operator may be at fault for poorly maintained lots, car accidents in parking lots are generally treated much the same as those that occur on roadways, so the other driver would most likely be the party that is primarily responsible. This is especially true given the heightened propensity for crashes when backing up a vehicle.
Finally, retailers and/or parking lot owner/operators also face potential liability for injuries related to criminal activity. If the crime was foreseeable because the lot was located in a high-crime area, or was the scene of consistent and recent criminal activity, either party could be responsible for injury if they did not take adequate steps to limit or control the dangerous element.
Consult a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you suffered an injury because a property owner failed to keep the premises safe, contact a personal injury lawyer about filing a lawsuit. Property owners should be held accountable for lax or negligent upkeep, and the Miami law firm of Pita Weber & Del Prado is available to assess the merits of your claim. Contact us for a free consultation.