Injuries occur in public parking lots all the time. It’s no surprise that when pedestrians and vehicles are in a relatively small space, often distracted by their surroundings, accidents are going to happen. As a matter of fact, one 10-year study that ended a few years after the start of this century showed 13 percent of all parking lot events included pedestrian fatalities. Mild to moderate or severe injury incidents are assumed to be far greater.
How do you know who is responsible for parking lot accidents, and what should you do if you are injured in a public parking lot?
Parking Lot Owners are Usually Responsible
In general, the owner of the parking lot is the responsible party when people are injured in a public lot, assuming the lot owner was negligent. Parking lot owners are responsible for ensuring their lots meet safety standards. They are also responsible for making regular inspections and repairing any dangerous conditions that could cause harm.
The law does acknowledge that parking lots are exposed to the elements, and it’s impossible to ensure every single harmful condition is eliminated 24/7, so in order for the owner to be held liable, the injured party must produce evidence the lot owner was negligent.
In general, the court considers the following two conditions:
- Foreseeability: the lot owner’s negligence must cause the injury
- Reasonability: the lot owner is only responsible for unreasonable risks and is not required to repair every single imperfection because an injury could occur
What is the Responsibility of the Driver in a Parking Lot Accident If a Pedestrian Gets Hit?
“Duty of care” is used to determine who is at fault if a pedestrian is hit by a vehicle in a parking lot. Both drivers and pedestrians are expected to follow rules and exercise reasonable care in this environment. Courts consider a variety of factors when determining negligence and if a driver is negligent in the operation of his or her vehicle, he or she will be expected to pay damages for property damage and pedestrian injuries.
Some of the most common reasons a driver is found negligent include:
- Distracted driving
- Disobeying signs or signals
- Failing to yield the right of way to pedestrians at crosswalks
- Not signaling a turn
- Disregarding weather or traffic conditions
There is a greater duty of care for drivers when it comes to children. If it’s expected that children would be present in a parking lot, for instance at a school or childcare center, drivers are legally expected to exercise a higher degree of care.
Pedestrians also have a duty of care in regard for their own safety. The court can assess contributory negligence if it believes a pedestrian failed to exercise care and was at least partially responsible for his or her injuries. For instance, if a pedestrian fails to do any of the following, he or she could be considered partially responsible for a parking lot accident:
- Disregarding walk/don’t walk signals
- Failing to use crosswalks
- Darting in front of a vehicle
- Disrupting the flow of traffic
What Should You Do If Injured in a Parking Lot?
Obviously, in the minutes following an injury, you are less concerned about negligence and the law than you are about your injuries. You should seek medical attention following any accident, even if your injuries do not appear to be that serious. This ensures the incident and your injuries, regardless how mild they might seem at the time, are documented.
What are some of the most common events that occur in parking lots that lead to injury?
- Failure to upkeep pavements
- Poor lighting
- Insufficient security
- Inadequate signage
- Driver negligence
Though parking lot owners are responsible for ensuring proper security and lighting, lot owners have no duty to protect customers from random crimes. However, if numerous robberies or assaults occur in a poorly lit or poorly secured parking lot, and the lot owner makes no effort to prevent the problem, he or she could be held liable because there is foreseeable risk.
Once you’ve sought medical attention for your injuries, you’ll need to contact an attorney who can help you with your case. There are limits as to how long you have to file a lawsuit, so the sooner you take action the better. There is no reason why you should be responsible for the cost of your medical treatments in an accident that was not your fault and an experienced personal injury attorney can ensure you are treated fairly.
For more information, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Law Offices of ELAN WURTZEL, P.C.