Read Between the Lines: Parking Lot Hazards
Maybe your parents took you to an empty parking lot to teach you how to drive as a teenager. That may be one of the safest parking lot experiences you will have.
With slow moving vehicles, one would think parking lots are safer than roads. But one of every five motor vehicle accidents and 14% of all claims of auto damage happen in parking lots.
Non-residential parking facilities are used by 175 million people every day, and it seems that most drivers are not paying attention. A National Safety Council Public Opinion Poll found that 66% of drivers said they would make phone calls while driving through parking lots, 63% would program GPS systems, 56% would text, 53% would use social media, 50% would send or receive emails, 49% would take photos or watch videos.
In a single year, 99 people were killed and 2,000 injured when they were hit by cars backing out of parking spots, and 106 fatalities and 5,000 injuries were caused from cars moving forward. Five deaths were caused by pedestrians struck by driverless cars! Of children ages 5 to 9 who died in traffic crashes, 22% were pedestrians. Most deaths occurred because drivers failed to see kids while backing up.
Parking lot injuries can be extensive and include medical bills, lost wages and even disability. Victims hit by a careless or distracted motorist are entitled to compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Not all parking lot injuries are caused by vehicles. Slip and fall accidents are also common in parking lots. While Florida doesn’t have the hazards caused by snow and ice, inadequate striping, potholes or cracks, lack of signage, debris, poor lighting and puddles can also lead to injuries.
In addition, more than 400,000 violent crimes are committed in parking lots or garages each year, including rape, robbery and aggravated assault. The law in Florida requires that owners of parking lots have appropriate security in place. If they do not, they can be found liable for people injured in their lots in violent crimes.
An owner of a parking lot can be found liable for injuries caused by the following:
- Lack of designated walkways for handicapped and other people
- Poorly designed structures with bad traffic flow
- Inadequate signals or markings
- Inadequate security and lighting
- Uneven surfaces and potholes
- Blind spots that block drivers’ vision
- Improperly marked handicapped zones
- Oil spills or runoff from poor drainage
What can you do to help ensure compensation for your injuries caused in a parking lot or a garage?
- As soon as you can, take photos and videos of the dangerous condition that caused your injury. If you don’t have a measuring tape, use any other object to help show the depth and diameter of a hole or condition that cause your fall. Take as many pictures as possible, from a variety of angles.
- If someone saw you fall and you are able, ask for their name and contact information and a description of what they saw. Ask them to sign and date the statement. If they are willing, use your cell phone to video an eyewitness account.
- Criminal activity must be immediately reported to police. Always call 911 to notify law enforcement of robbery or assault.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of a parking lot accident and have sustained injuries or death, it is important to seek advice from attorneys experienced with personal injury cases. The attorneys at Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice and Purtz have over 50 years of experience with personal injury cases and we are here to represent you. We have six locations in Southwest Florida. Our offices are conveniently located in Fort Myers (2 to serve you), Naples, Cape Coral, Lehigh Acres and Port Charlotte. Contact the office nearest you and set up your appointment for a free consultation today.