Who Is at Fault for A Slip and Fall Accident in A Parking Lot?
Parking lots offer plenty of convenience, especially for drivers in busy rural and suburban communities. Yet they need to be properly maintained by whatever entities or parties own them. Without the appropriate amount of attention to the condition of the surfaces in the parking lot, those surfaces could lead to pedestrian slip and fall accidents.
Slip and fall accidents can mean more than just a little embarrassment or a bit of bruising. According to statistics issued from the National Floor Safety Institute, more than one million emergency room visits each year can be traced to slip and fall incidents. And if you have ever required emergency medical care, you know how costly it can be, even if you have insurance. Consumer Health Ratings estimated in 2019 that a single trip to the emergency room could lead to a $1,089 bill on average.
Fortunately, you may be able to recover damages to pay for your health care treatment to get better. First, though, you need to make sure that you understand which party is at fault. Sometimes, that can be difficult to determine without the help of a legal advisor such as a slip and fall lawyer.
Is the Owner of the Parking Lot Always at Fault for Slip and Fall Accidents?
It is a misconception that the entity or party that owns the parking lot property where you fell is instantly at fault for your tumble. If you try to recover damages, you must prove that the other party was negligent and that the negligence led to your incident and subsequent injury.
Why can this be challenging? In some cases, you may be partially or entirely at fault. For instance, you might have been in a hurry to get from the parking lot to a nearby building. Because you wanted to speed up your travels, you went through an area that was cordoned off to prevent pedestrians from entering it. If you slipped and fell in that area, you might be deemed completely at fault because you bypassed a clear indication of potential trouble.
Similarly, you might share the fault for your fall if you were looking at your phone and tripped over the curb or were wearing shoes not appropriate for weather conditions. Though you might still be able to claim some damages, you might get much less than you anticipated. And what if you were trespassing? That would leave you in the wrong.
Of course, in many slip and fall accidents, the property owner, or a business owner who leases part of the parking lot space from the parking lot owner, is at fault. Some examples of negligence on the part of a parking lot property owner could include:
- Not taking proper care of the parking lot, leading to uneven pavement, lots of cracks, and other tripping hazards.
- Not removing snow, sleet, or ice within an acceptable time frame after the weather event has occurred.
- Not putting up signs warning drivers and pedestrians of potential slipping or tripping hazards.
- Not having adequate parking lot lighting.
- Not putting up necessary signs to help foot and vehicle traffic move consistently and safely.
- Not having handrails in places where they belong.
When the parking lot property owner has been negligent, you can submit a claim to the owner’s insurance. You may also need to submit a claim or start a personal injury case against another party, such as a subcontractor who was supposed to clear snow and never got around to it. Remember that negligence could be divided between two or more parties, which can complicate your claim or case. Also, if you share some of the blame, you may receive less in damages than you would otherwise.
What if the Parking Lot Is on Government Property?
Even so-called cut and dried slip and fall cases can be challenging. If you hurt yourself in a parking lot owned by a government agency, you may have a tougher time proving liability. The government has its own paperwork and deadlines, so it may be wise to get in touch with a slip and fall lawyer who can provide you with suggestions based on past experiences. That way, you can make sure you stay on top of all hard deadlines, as well as use proper documentation.
Is It Easy to Get Compensation for a Parking Lot Slip and Fall Accident?
You slipped on a patch of ice and broke your arm in a retail store parking lot. You submitted a claim to the store’s insurance carrier and were offered what you believe is an inadequate settlement. Why is the offer so modest?
Insurance companies are in business to spend as little as they can. They may fight your claim and try to point some of the fault in your direction. That way, they can justify offering you less money than you deserve to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and perhaps property damages.
You can help your case whether or not you work with a slip and fall lawyer by following a few rules:
- Get medical attention immediately after slipping and falling. Never wait for days to go to the emergency room, urgent care center, or your primary care physician. When you wait to be seen, the insurance company could say that you suffered your injury somewhere else.
- Keep all your medical invoices and receipts. These provide proof that you were treated and had out-of-pocket expenses.
- Follow through with your treatment plan. Do not stop going to your appointments, even if you are worried about the cost. Stopping treatment prematurely can send a message that you are not as hurt as you say.
- Take pictures and videos at the scene. If you had to leave right afterward to rush to get medical care, ask someone to take pictures on your behalf. You want to document the site to help prove fault.
- Get the names of eyewitnesses. You may not have been alone in the parking lot when you fell. Gather the names of anyone who saw what happened. They may be useful if you need backup support.
The bottom line is that it never hurts to set up a consultation with a slip and fall lawyer after you have been injured. Slip and fall incidents can be more confusing than they seem at first blush. A lawyer can help you understand your rights based on a variety of laws. Then, you can determine the wisest way to proceed to try to recover damages.
Highland Park Slip and Fall Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Help Clients Injured in Slip and Fall Accidents in Parking Lots
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident in a parking lot, reach out to the Highland Park slip and fall lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr. Our experienced legal team will advocate for you so that you receive the compensation for which you are entitled. Call us today at 877-249-4600 or 732-537-8570 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients in New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, Colonia, Elizabeth, and Newark.