If you trip and fall in someone’s parking lot, are they liable for your injuries? In many cases, the owner of the property could be liable for the damages. They could owe you compensation for any and all medical costs you incur, and compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
But when does this concept apply, and how can you tell for sure that someone else is liable for your injuries?
Talking to a Lawyer
First, understand that if you’ve been injured in a parking lot fall, the most important step to take is talking to a personal injury lawyer who specializes in slips, trips, and falls. Your lawyer will be able to help you understand the nature of your case, review the evidence, and determine whether it makes sense to move forward with a claim or a lawsuit. The nuances of the case can be incredibly difficult to discern on your own, and even then, you’ll still need help bringing a case against the property owner if it comes to that.
Importantly, you should realize that most personal injury lawyers are willing to talk about your case for free as a preliminary review, and most will only request payment if you win the case—so there’s nothing to lose in an initial consultation.
Generally speaking, if you fall because of your own mistakes or negligence, you won’t be able to sue anybody. In a perfectly safe, well-maintained environment, it’s entirely possible to trip over your own feet and fall. Here, no property owner could reasonably be held responsible.
Instead, in order to sue, you have to prove some degree of negligence on the part of the property owner. To establish negligence, you must prove that the property owner had a responsibility, that they neglected that responsibility, that their neglect directly led to your fall, and that your fall resulted in your injuries.
Let’s take a look at some of the responsibilities that may apply:
- In most areas, property owners are expected to provide adequate lighting in their parking lots. Customers and visitors should have a visible path back to their vehicles; if that path isn’t visible due to a lack of lighting, and you trip on a rock, the property owner is to blame. Check to see if there are streetlights, and if those lights are fully functioning.
- The area should also be easily walkable and/or traversable. If there isn’t a paved area leading to your vehicle, or if that area is poorly maintained, it could cause injury. For example, a negligently cracked sidewalk, in poor condition, could cause people to trip.
- Code adherence. There are a number of area-specific codes that will apply to the parking lot in question. Depending on the area, it could be forced to be a certain size, offer certain features, or be designed in a certain way. If any of these codes are violated in a way that leads to your fall, you can hold the owner liable.
- Condition response. Sometimes, parking lot owners are responsible to respond to weather conditions that could make the area unsafe. For example, in states with heavy snowfall, owners are expected to clear the area of snow and ice to ensure safe walkability.
- Owners are also required to offer adequate security. If there aren’t sufficient security measures in place, and the store is the victim of a robbery, and the escaping robbers knock you down in the parking lot, you could hold the owner responsible for your injuries.
These are just some of the ways a property owner’s neglect could result in your injury. Also note that if you fall due to someone else’s intentional action—like if someone pushes you—you may hold that person liable for your injuries.
Variables to Consider
As you may suspect, every case is different. You’ll need to consider a variety of factors before you decide to move forward with your case, including:
- The state in which you live. Different states have different laws regarding personal injuries. Yours may be more or less favorable to your current situation.
- The extent of your injuries. The more severe your injuries are, the more you should consider a case. A light scratch is no reason to file suit, but broken bones should have you considering who’s liable for the fall.
- The nature of the fall. Was this fall your fault, or clearly someone else’s?
Again, if you’re not sure about the nature of your case or whether it makes sense to move forward with legal action, your best course of action is to talk to a lawyer. Schedule a free consultation with a personal injury attorney in your area and discover what possibilities exist for you.