Forget about navigating the highway or the city streets, just getting in and out of a parking lot safely can feel like the bigger hurdle whenever you want to go somewhere.
Whether you’re in your vehicle and trying to find an open spot in a parking tower or you’re trying to make your way across an open lot to get to a store, the parking area outside of a business can feel like the Wild, Wild West. Many of these lots aren’t well-maintained, and (unlike when they’re on the road) drivers often seem to have no real idea of what rules they’re expected to follow. When an accident does happen, who is responsible? The answers may surprise you.
Typically, an errant driver is always going to be liable
If you’re injured because a driver backed into you while you were crossing behind their vehicle or someone sideswiped your car as you were pulling in, the at-fault driver would generally be liable for your losses. This is just like any other claim for a car wreck.
However, the owner of the lot or garage may also be liable
What if your injuries are so serious that the other driver’s insurance isn’t enough to cover your losses? What if nobody else was involved in your accident, but you slipped and fell down a set of steps as you exited the garage because the handrail was missing? What if you were mugged in the back of the parking lot where the lighting was burned out?
In all those situations, you may have a premises liability claim. The owner of the parking lot or garage controls the property, so they have a legal obligation to keep the premises reasonably safe. You could have a claim over things like:
- Inadequate lighting that makes it hard for drivers to see pedestrians or pedestrians to see objects on the ground or potholes that could lead to a fall
- Negligent security measures that allow (or even encourage) criminal elements to use the parking lot or garage as a hunting ground for victims
- Faulty traffic lights, missing traffic signs or signs that are simply confusing to drivers, increasing the chances of a wreck
- The failure to properly maintain a lot, including keeping the stairwells free of debris and snow and ice off the lot
If you’ve been injured in a parking lot or garage, you may have more options for your recovery than you realize. Learning more about your options can help you make informed decisions about the future.