When you slip and fall in your own home, the fault may be your own if you were running down the stairs or left a spill on your kitchen floor. However, if a slip and fall accident like this happens in a parking lot, the liability may be held by another party. Finding out exactly who is responsible for your injuries can be complicated, and you will want to learn this information as soon as possible, particularly if you have medical bills piling up.
Parking Lot Slip and Fall Accidents
People slip and fall in parking lots because of uneven road surfaces, poor lighting, wet and icy surfaces, and for other reasons. If this has happened to you and you suffered serious injuries, you will need to know who owns the parking lot. Usually parking lot owners are responsible for keeping them safe and maintained. If the parking lot is by a store or shopping mall, you can try reaching out to the mall management office or the leasing company from which the store rents.
Finding this information can be difficult, because real estate projects frequently involve multiple entities such as developers, owners, and leasing agencies. Besides that, many of these people are not good at responding to inquiries from people who have been injured on their properties. If you have the property address, you can research the property records in the municipality where the parking lot is located. This is public information, and you should be able to access it.
Slip and fall accidents also occur in municipal parking lots, such as police stations and government buildings. These can be more complicated because of municipal immunities. When these accidents happen in New Jersey, a Notice of Tort claim has to be filed, and claimants must prove that the property was dangerous, the resulting injury was foreseeable, there was a permanent loss of a bodily function, and that the medical expenses incurred were more than $3,600.
What if The Owner Uses a Management Company?
Store and shopping mall owners and leasing companies generally subcontract companies to manage the care and maintenance of their parking lots. In many cases, they sign agreements with management companies to make repairs, keep the lots clean, and salt and plow the grounds after storms. The parking lot owner might hold the overall responsibility for someone’s injuries caused by dangerous or defective conditions, but the management company may also have assumed liability when the contract was signed.
It might be possible to file a personal injury lawsuit that names a parking lot owner and their management company. The two parties can figure out the liability among themselves later. To do this, the ownership and contract will need to be well researched during the investigation phase of your case.
How Can I Determine Liability Once I Find the Owner?
To show that a parking lot owner or their management company is legally responsible for injuries incurred in a slip and fall accident on those premises, you must prove that either party was at fault for a certain action. This is the basis of premises liability law. The first kind of proof could be that they caused a dangerous condition to be present. This could be a significant spill, a markedly uneven surface that was undetectable, or large icy patch in a well-trafficked area.
Your case could also focus on proving that the owner, employee, or contractor was aware of the dangerous surface but neglected to correct it. Therefore, they may have known about that icy surface but did not bother to mark it off or sprinkle salt onto it. Premises liability law also considers whether an owner, employee, or contractor should have been aware of the danger but was not; in other words, a reasonable person who was responsible for the property should have discovered the problem and corrected it.
How Else Is Responsibility Determined for My Parking Lot Slip and Fall Accident?
Business owners are responsible for providing a reasonable care of duty for inspecting their parking lots, to fix dangerous conditions such as ice and large potholes. When repairs cannot be completed immediately, the conditions should made known to others with warning signs, by being roped off or other obvious notifications. Owners should also commit to repairing the problem within a reasonable amount of time.
In these kinds of cases, courts will ask a lot of questions to determine whether the owner acted in a reasonable way. Here are two examples: Was the danger present long enough that they should have known about it? Should they have put up a simple barrier or warning to prevent you and others from getting hurt?
Other Important Things to Know about Parking Lot Premises Liability
Other inquiries will investigate the owner’s procedures for regularly examining, cleaning, and repairing the parking lot. If the owner claims to do this, they will need to show proof of such. If your slip and fall accident happened at night, the court will want to know if there was adequate lighting. Photos of the accident scene and your injuries, plus testimony from any witnesses who saw what happened, can also be helpful in determining liability for your case.
Also be aware that the defendant in your case may try to prove that your carelessness led to the accident. Their side could try to show that you did not have a legitimate reason for being in that part of the parking lot or that there were warning signs you should have seen. They might assert that a careful person should have noticed the danger and avoided it, or was distracted, acting inappropriately, or running at the time of the slip and fall.
Mount Laurel Slip and Fall Lawyers at the Law Office of David S. Rochman Help Clients Injured in Slip and Fall Accidents
If you or a loved one has been in a slip and fall accident, it is important to see a doctor to be examined for injuries. Also, reach out to the Mount Laurel slip and fall lawyers at the Law Office of David S. Rochman. Our legal team will investigate the cause of your accident and be your advocate to secure the compensation for which you are entitled. Call us at 856-751-2345 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation. Located in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Mount Laurel and surrounding areas.