As a risk and security management professional, I can tell you that one of the most overlooked risk exposures for many business owners or property owners is their parking lots or parking garages. Too many people focus on the liabilities associated with their operation, their product, their employees, fiduciary losses, guests and avert their eyes from hidden dangers and exhibits in their parking lots – until they are hit by a major claim.
There are many different examples of what could result in liability for a business owner, property owner, or commercial parking lot owner if a guest is injured while on the premises. Such liability can be complicated by a variety of other exposures and hazards that exist on the property. For example, does the car park offer toiletries, are the stairwells dimly lit, do homeless people sleep on or near the premises, people known to linger on the premises, the is the property in a high crime area, does the owner provide electric vehicle charging stations, is valet parking offered, etc.
The examples of liability are countless, but most readers would be concerned about victims who are attacked while exiting or returning to their vehicle and who are assaulted, robbed, injured, raped and sometimes murdered.
A good friend’s son was attacked at night in a parking lot in Cincinnati three years ago by two assailants who attacked him from behind, leaving him unconscious and badly injured. This resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical and dental bills.
In most cases, parking liability cases arise when security measures or supervisors fail to provide sufficient supervision, resulting in a catastrophic event. Such events can also occur due to faulty or insufficient security measures, poorly lit areas, lack of entrance monitoring that allow unauthorized persons to enter the premises.
Depending on the nature of the case, the lives of victims of parking lot neglect are often forever changed. Liability for injuries sustained by a person depends on the facts of the incident. If the owner of the premises has been negligent, his liability may be incurred. However, the negligence of another user, driver or pedestrian, may also be responsible for damage.
In any event, the owner of the parking lot has a duty to take reasonable care in its management. This obligation includes taking reasonable steps to ensure that persons using the lot are not attacked, injured, or have their property damaged in the lot.
This is true whether the owner is a person, company or business contracted to manage the property. A property management company has the same duty of care and may be liable if its negligence results in injury or damage.
Of course, this does not mean that every situation resulting in injury is the responsibility of the owner. For example, if the landlord takes sensible and reasonable precautions to prevent harm to people on the premises, the courts are less likely to hold the landlord liable.
A parking lot owner has a duty to care for the property – to prevent and repair unsafe conditions. However, they are not responsible for problems they could not have foreseen or for unsafe conditions that are not obvious.
To prove a claim that the owner is responsible for their injury, an injured person must prove that the car park owner’s negligence or breach of duty of care was the cause of their injury or loss. For this to happen, the injured party must show and prove that the owner knew or should reasonably have known that the unsafe condition existed and still did not take appropriate action to remedy the condition.
For example, if there is a large pothole in a dark area of the parking lot that is difficult to see and a guest slips, falls and/or gets injured because of it, this could lead to a claim. legal valid for damages. Or if an employee slips and falls on the ice while walking to their vehicle, the business owner would be responsible for the workers’ compensation claim.
If someone is injured by a criminal on the premises and the law finds that the parking lot owner knew of previous criminal activity on or near their parking lot or failed to take adequate steps to promote safety , the injured person could potentially receive damages.
A parking accident can also result from inappropriate signage or when no signs exist in a dangerous and unmarked area. For example, a warning sign for a blind spot when approaching traffic, a “Stop” sign, a “Wrong direction” sign or turn indicators should be mandatory.
All crosswalks should be appropriately marked and easily identified by pedestrians, and parking lot owners should use speed bumps to control speed on their property.
The parking lot owner and operator is responsible for ensuring that the lot is properly marked and regularly maintained to ensure safe operation. In an unmarked area, the owner should have known the signage required, the owner could be held responsible for an incident.
Parking spaces, circulation inside the facility, stairwells and exits must be lighted and well marked. Lighting is one of the most important aspects of a parking structure and lot safety. Proper lighting practices can reduce the risk of theft, harassment and assault.
When weather conditions such as snow or rain make a parking lot difficult to navigate or use, the landowner is required to have personnel or a snow removal contractor on hand to ensure safety, even if it is a restaurant, a manufacturer, a real estate agent or an office. building owner.
To help limit a landlord’s negligence, the landlord should document and conduct regular inspections of a parking lot they own to ensure that there is no danger. Ongoing housekeeping is important for continued safety. When a parking lot is littered with trash, it can seem like no one is in charge of the area and oversight is lax. Regularly inspect the facility, cleaning up debris and removing abandoned vehicles, if any.
For larger car parks or parking structures, call boxes should be conveniently placed throughout the facility and attendants should always be on duty. Easy access to emergency phones and intercoms can be essential. It is best to install these systems in well-lit, easy-to-reach areas near elevators, halls, stairs, and parking lots.
Surveillance cameras (CCTV) and guard services should be provided in high crime areas. CCTV is a powerful surveillance method because it creates an instant record of incidents. It is important that you ensure that employees are trained on what to do when an incident occurs, otherwise you increase your liability.
As a business owner or parking lot owner, you should have a professional risk assessment done by a security company or your insurer/broker. These assessments can help identify key areas of risk, providing strategies on how to deal with potential hazards. Risk assessments should be done early on to ensure parking structures and parking lot owners are proactive rather than reactive.
Risk management is an ongoing process. The key to keeping customers safe is knowing what dangers to anticipate and how to deal with them.
Be safe my friend.