Parking Lot Injuries
Parking lot injuries can stem from a wide range of occurrences, ranging from a trip-and-fall to a pedestrian accident to a criminal attack.
Parking lots and garages give us easy access to apartments, offices, schools, airports and shopping malls. Unfortunately, the proliferation of these lots has led to injuries on site. Property owners owe a duty of care to make sure their premises is reasonably safe. That can mean initiating regular inspections of a site in order to identify and address dangerous conditions and defects.
Fort Lauderdale parking lot injury attorney Richard Ansara of The Ansara Law Firm recognizes that these locations have become more dangerous in recent years, in large part due to driver distraction. Anytime you have motor vehicles and pedestrians in close proximity, there are risks. Both increasingly, people are paying less attention to their surroundings and more attention to their phones.
The National Safety Council reports that at least 60,000 people are injured and more than 500 die in the estimated 50,000 crashes that occur in parking lots and garages each year. Other incidents, such as falls and criminal attacks, are not tracked the same way, but we know these too are serious problems.
Some of the hazards in parking lots include:
- Unclear parking lot signage
- Lack of proper striping
- Broken bottles/ debris
- Adequate security (i.e., guards, cameras, lights, gates, etc.)
- Distracted drivers
- Slippery surfaces
- Damaged/ non-existent stairwells/ banisters
- Poorly-maintained wheel stops
Parking lots are dangerous because there is often a mix of pedestrians, motor vehicles and bicyclists, but there are no streets and rarely are their sidewalks. There is not the same kind of uniform traffic control and law enforcement present, so many people feel free to ignore the signs – or are too distracted to notice them.
In other cases, property owners are not doing their part to properly design, maintain and monitor the site so that it is reasonably safe for all guests.
If you are hurt in a parking lot or parking garage, the burden is on you to prove your claim. The mere fact of an injury is not enough to hold a property owner liable. That’s why you need to consult with an experienced injury lawyer.Proving Your Parking Lot Injury Claim
Proof of negligence in parking lot case could be tricky, and there may be more than one defendant, depending on the nature of your claim.
Some various approaches that may be employed:
General Negligence. In order to prove a general negligence claim, one must show defendant owner owed a duty of care to you (usually meaning you were lawfully on site as either a patron, guest or worker), that duty of care was breached and that breach caused your injuries. This will cover most claims that pertain to trip-and-fall accidents, poor signage or other on-site defects. Property owners owe an especially high duty to people who are on site for the owner’s financial benefit. They must regularly inspect the site for hazards, and timely address/ mitigate those that are discovered, or else offer an adequate warning.
Slip-and-Fall. Florida has specific guidelines for cases involving injury caused by a slip-and-fall on a transient foreign substance. F.S. 768.0755 holds that if a person slips and falls on a transitory foreign substance in a business establishment, the injured person has to prove the establishment had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and failed to take appropriate action to remedy it. Constructive knowledge can be proven by circumstantial evidence that shows the condition existed for such a length of time that it would have been discovered in the exercise of ordinary care or that it occurred with such regularity that it was foreseeable.
Liability for Third-Party Attack. In cases where the victim was on site by invitation, the law allows liability for injuries caused by a third-party criminal attack if it can be proved the crime was reasonably foreseeable and the landowner failed to protect against it. The test of whether a crime is reasonably foreseeable will depend on a host of factors, including a history of crime at the location and nearby area and the nature of the business/ site. It’s important to note that the owner of property is not the insurer of safety and there usually is not strict liability imposed here. Rather, it becomes a question of whether there was adequate safety and security for invitees. Examples of failure on this front would be: Inadequate security, poor lighting, negligent security, unlocked/ malfunctioning gates, etc.
Claim Against a Driver/ Your Insurer. If you are involved in a parking lot collision with the driver of a vehicle, you can file a claim for damages against that driver. If a driver hits someone while opening a car door, they are automatically liable, as it’s the responsibility of the person opening the door to make sure there is no traffic approaching before they do. In other cases, drivers fail to make sure all other traffic has passed before pulling out or reversing from a parking spot. There are also many times when drivers who are aggressive or fail to allow pedestrians the right-of-way, even in designated crosswalks. If the driver does not have insurance or flees the scene, it may be possible – even for pedestrians – to claim damages from their own insurance company through uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage.
If you are injured in a parking lot, whether due to a fall, being hit by a car or attacked by a third party, an experienced injury lawyer in Fort Lauderdale can help you explore your legal options.
Call the injury attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm at (877) 277-3780 or locally in Broward at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties.