If you have been injured in a parking lot, the person or business who is liable for your injuries will depend on the circumstances. Generally, parking lot owners have a reasonable duty of care to make sure that no one becomes injured on the property.
This means that if it snows and the lot becomes icy, the property owner needs to clear it and put ice melt down. If there are cracks, the owner needs to fix any hazard that could potentially cause a person to slip and fall.
This does not mean that parking lot owners will always be liable for injuries that occur on their property. So long as reasonable care and action is taken to prevent harm to others, it is less likely that a court will hold the owner responsible for a negligence claim.
Parking lots, whether they are indoor or outdoor are subject to a lot of wear and tear. Lot owners must frequently check for harmful conditions, and take the action needed to fix the problem.
In order to prove your claim, you must be able to show that the parking lot owner was negligent in their duty of care to prevent harm to you and others. Cause-in-fact is determined by the “but for” test.
For example, but for the parking lot owner’s negligence in clearing ice, you would not have fallen and broken your arm. You will have to prove that the owner knew or should have known about the dangerous condition, and failed to remedy the situation in a timely fashion.
What are Common Parking Lot Accidents?
A few of the more common parking lot accidents include the following:
- Pavement Dangers: Pavement exposed to the elements and normal wear and tear can become slick, uneven, cracked, damaged, and it can become riddled with potholes.
- Speed Bumps: Speed bumps that inadequately slow down drivers could cause injury to pedestrians and other drivers.
- Lack of Security: An insufficient amount of security could pose a threat to the safety of others, and may cause a rise in criminal activity.
- Poor Lighting: Without adequate lighting, hazardous conditions that would normally be seen in well-lit areas, may be hidden.
- Poor Signage: If a parking lot signs are confusing or lacking, drivers may be exposed to an increased risk of collision.
- Negligent Drivers: Injuries in parking lots may be the direct result of other driver’s negligence. Failure to stop or yield when advised can cause pedestrian and driver injury.
Are There Limits on Liability?
Parking lot owners are not absolutely liable for injuries that occur on their property. If an event that caused injury was not foreseeable, which means the lot owner would not have been able to prepare for the event, then it is unlikely that the court will hold them liable.
Lot owners owe a reasonable duty of care to prevent unnecessary harm to others. Though they have to take care to prevent and fix issues with their parking lot, it doesn’t make them liable for problems that they could not have anticipated or for issues that were not clearly obvious.
What About Crimes in the Parking Lot That Result in Injuries?
A parking lot owner may have to take steps to help keep the parking lot safe, if it is foreseeable that criminal activity may occur. However, in general, lot owners are usually not responsible for random acts of violence that may occur.
Some lot owners may have a duty to protect the cars parked on the lot, which will depend on bailment. Others will post signs reminding customers to take their valuables with them, stating they are not responsible for theft in an attempt to circumvent responsibility.
Some courts will hold lot owners responsible for stolen items, regardless on any posted disclaimers, particularly if the customer was unaware of the warning.
Should I Contact a Lawyer?
If you have been injured while on a parking lot and it was due to the nature of the parking lot, then you should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer will be able to review your case and advise you of your next steps. If you decide to move forward with your claim, your attorney will also help you file your claim and represent your best interests in court.