Parking Lot Premises Liability
Parking Lot Premises Liability Information
Owners of apartment complexes, restaurants, retail stores, hotels, and other for-profit and nonprofit businesses owe their visitors and patreons a duty to keep their premises reasonably safe — even their parking lots. Similarly, commercial parking lots also have legal duties to abide by.
Those who park in these lots, regardless of whether it is commercial or not, are identified as “invitees” or individuals who are invited to business-related events or meetings with the owner of the property. A duty of care for a property owner essentially encompasses any actions that a reasonable property owner should take or should have taken in similar circumstances. Therefore, a property owner will be held responsible for lack of property maintenance if an individual is injured, killed, or sexually assaulted.
An individual who was hurt on another person’s property can typically file a premises liability claim for damages against any person or company that owns, leases, occupies, or controls the property where the accident took place. Property owners or managers cannot completely shield themselves from liability by purchasing premises liability insurance or by delegating the important task of maintaining their property in storage conditions.
In essence, a property owner or manager is always responsible for the safety of their premises, even if they delegate maintenance tasks to an employee or hire an independent party who is then found guilty of negligence. This includes maintenance or repairs. As a customer or “visitor,” the last thing on their minds should be whether they can safely get from their home to the grocery store’s parking lot, and back.
Risks of Hazardous Property
Our experienced team of premises liability attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers have made some examples of potential risks an individual may face when they park their vehicle or walk on hazardous property:
➢ Negligent security. An owner must be aware of important factors, such as the services they offer to prevent injuries from occurring on their property. Providing proper security will allow visitors to feel safe on the premises. However, if the security system or team fails to perform their duties efficiently, it could lead to a premises liability claim against the property owner for choosing negligent security. For example, if a bank opens a branch in a part of town that’s notorious for crime, security measures need to be administered. Not to mention most users will be carrying money en route to enter their premises, so video cameras, alarms, locks, fencing, or gates should be installed to ensure their patrons’ well-being.
➢ Bad lighting. This factor can also be seen as a negligent security issue. Whether the business opens before the sun is out or after it gets dark, insufficient or poor lighting can cause accidents like slip and falls. Some parking lots can have uneven or cracked surfaces, which can make it easy to stumble. Dark settings also increase the risk for criminals and attackers to strike visitors. Though lighting will not single-handedly stop the aforementioned scenarios, it definitely helps.
➢ Damaged surfaces. As mentioned earlier, the constant use of cars can lead to uneven, cracked asphalt full of potholes. Property owners should anticipate that visitors will not all be mindful of this, and should schedule routine inspections and repairs in order to prevent falls and other accidents that can lead to injuries.
➢ No signage. By not having any signs placed on the property, the visitor will be unaware of what to do when they are in the parking lot. Property owners must have clear signs set up in visible areas where visitors are able to notice it. The signs will help the visitors know where they can and can’t park, as well as provide lanes that allow travel in both directions. Furthermore, if there are any hazards in the parking lot, the property owner must have signs laid out around the unsafe area to warn visitors to be careful when passing by.
Under California law, an individual may be entitled to receive compensation if their injury was caused by a property owner’s negligence, such as not maintaining a safe environment for visitors to enter. When potential safety hazards or areas that could cause injuries are ignored, the door for risks and costly expenses for a business opens widely. A parking lot owner will not only be expected to pay for maintenance, but also for any costs associated with a lawsuit.
As previously covered, an owner of a parking structure, lot, or garage has the responsibility to keep their facilities and premises safe for all users. Otherwise, in the event of an accident that results in damages, or even death, they can be held liable. It is expected for the property owner to place warning signs around their premises in case of hazardous conditions. The visitor can be informed about the situation, which will help them decide whether or not it is worth the risk to enter the property. If the visitor chooses to step foot onto the premises and gets injured, the liability of the accident will not directly go towards the property owner since they had notified visitors beforehand of the hazard.
An injured plaintiff can recover damages for economic and non-economic losses in their premises liability claim. Recoverable economic damages include:
➢ Future Medical Treatment
➢ Lost Earning Capacity
➢ Property Loss
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are intended to compensate a victim for losses which don’t necessarily have an easily determined dollar value. Non-economic damages for a premises liability case may include:
➢ Loss of Enjoyment of Life
➢ Pain and Suffering
There are rare cases where a plaintiff may also qualify for punitive damages. Punitive damages are only awarded at the court’s discretion. Punitive damages will require a plaintiff to prove one or more of the following:
➢ A defendant deliberately caused an accident, injury, or death
➢ A defendant deliberately destroyed evidence of his or her liability
➢ A defendant’s reckless actions caused severe injuries or a wrongful death
If a victim loses his or her life after a premises liability accident, the decedent’s surviving family members may be entitled to file a wrongful death claim for damages against the negligent property owner. Available damages can include:
➢ Burial costs
➢ Funeral expenses
➢ Loss of support and companionship
➢ Financial support the decedent would have contributed had they not died
West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here to Help
If you have sustained injuries as a result of a parking lot premises liability accident, you have the right to hold the guilty party responsible. A skilled premises liability attorney at West Coast Trial Lawyers will help you recover financial compensation for the losses you have sustained, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.