How Do You Know If A Business Acted Reasonably In Trying To Prevent a Parking Lot Slip and Fall Accident?
Posted By Alan Sackrin on June 16, 2016
According to a study on parking lot injuries, which focused on parking lots located at schools and college campuses, over half of all parking lot claims involved some type of slip and fall or trip and fall (the next most common parking lot claim is criminal assault).
What caused these accidents to happen? According to the study, many of these falls were the result of:
- Poor lighting
- Broken concrete, gravel, or curbing
- Uneven surfaces
- Unsecured parking bollards
- Ground holes, such as manholes, water meters, or drainage grates with defective coverings.
Risk of Loss from Parking Lot Slip and Fall Accidents
Fortunately, most parking lot owners carry some type of liability insurance that covers this type of event. When an accident happens, the first thing a business owner normally does is contact its insurance company which then assigns an insurance adjuster to process the claim, including assessing the cause of the accident and reviewing the victim’s damages.
Over the years, insurance companies have developed their own research studies examining the risk of harm from a fall in a parking lot, which they have compiled into “risk manuals” and similar documents and have shared with their policyholders. Some of this risk research is available online, such as the one published by Traveler’s Insurance. One reason for sharing this information, is to help its policyholders reduce the risk of these injuries by providing guides to evaluate the effectiveness of the policyholder’s policies and procedures for preventing a slip and fall from occurring on their property.
Using Insurance Risk Manuals to Help Build Your Slip and Fall Accident Claim for Compensation
When someone is hurt in an parking lot, it’s important for the victim to know that Florida’s premises liability law will help them recover compensation for their injuries. The damages that may be recovered in a premises liability claim include things like medical expenses, emergency room treatment, therapy costs, pain and suffering, lost wages and more.
For more on proving up a Florida premises liability claim, check out our earlier posts including, “What Type Of Legal Duty Does A Florida Property Owner Have For Injuries To Visitors? Florida Premises Liability’s Invitee, Licensee, Trespasser Distinctions.”
In a Florida premises liability claim, the burden of proof can be different depending on the type of claim (i.e. a slip and fall from water on the floor of a grocery store may have different requirements than does a slip and fall on a sidewalk). The accident victim may be required to prove certain types of facts in one type of premises liability case versus another type of case (for example, proving the business owner knew about the dangerous condition or should have known about the condition).
Accordingly, as part of proving a parking lot slip and fall claim, a victim may want to review these insurance company risk manuals to discover how the insurance companies assess the risk of harm in a parking lot slip and fall.
Specifically, these risk studies can help a claimant understand the risk control measures that an insurance company believes are considered reasonable for a parking lot owner or manager to take in order to protect against these accidents, and then apply that information as leverage when dealing with an adjuster.
What Steps Should A Business Take To Avoid A Parking Lot Slip and Fall?
Below are some questions for someone who has suffered an injury after falling down in a Florida parking lot to consider as they prepare their damage claim and as they try to convince an insurance adjuster that the business owner didn’t act reasonably to protect them (from material provided by Travelers’ Risk Evaluation Guide, as well as online information provided by AmTrust, Society Insurance, and Chubb).
- Were there speed bumps in the parking lot to prevent people from driving too fast?
- If so, how easy was it to see these speed bumps? Were they painted in bright colors? Did they have reflectors?
- Did these speed bumps contrast visually against the surface of the parking lot or space so that they were easily seen?
- How were these speed bumps designed? Were they “low-profile,” where they are very long across the traffic path but not that high, with only a short rise?
- How about parking stops, those concrete bumpers that prevent a vehicle from pulling too far into the space. Did they extend past the space, sticking out between the parked cars?
- Were they longer than the customary six feet?
- What about those metal grates with holes in them to drain rain water? Where were they? Did they have paint or reflectors? How visible were they as compared to the surface of the surrounding parking lot?
- Did the parking lot have any potholes? Cracks? Dips or depressions?
- Could you see any repairs in the parking lot, where past potholes, cracks, or dips had been fixed?
- Does the parking lot operator have a repair record?
What does this repair record show about repairs made to the parking lot?
- Does this record also have any scheduling for regular and routine checks of the parking lot to see if repairs are needed?
- How fast are repairs made and the need is discovered? Day, weeks, sporadically?
- What’s the budget that has been set aside to maintain this parking lot each year?
- What’s the budget to repave this parking lot?
- How often is this scheduled to take place? Is it even on the calendar?
- What about the lighting for the parking lot – is there any?
- What kind of lighting is provided for the parking lot?
- Where all the lights working at the time of the accident?
- What is the repair and maintenance schedule for replacing burnt out light bulbs?
- What is the repair and maintenance schedule for electrical issues with parking lot lighting?
- Are these repair and maintenance schedules being followed?
- Who is assigned to do these repair and maintenance checks?
- Who is assigned to do the actual work of repair and maintenance?
- Are there any islands in the parking lot?
- Do these islands have curbs?
- Do these islands contrast visually against the surface of the parking lot or space so that they are easily seen?
- Are the curbs to the island painted? What color? Does this help to make them easier to see at night? During the day?
- How often does someone check the parking lot to see if these curbs need to be repainted?
- What kind of paint is used in the parking lot? Is it easily seen? Is it slip resistant?
- Are there any barriers or pylons in this parking lot?
- How are they used? Are they easily seen by those using the parking lot?
- What about the overall surface of the parking lot, is it even?
- Where are there uneven surfaces?
- Are there protections in place here to help anyone walking over these uneven surfaces?
- What about sand – is there a procedure in place to keep sand and water off the parking lot surfaces?
- How is this done? Who does this?
- Is it done at the same time that customers or employees are needing to walk on the parking lot surface?
- What companies are involved in the overseeing, inspection, repair, or maintenance of this parking lot?
- What are their addresses and phone numbers?
- Is this parking lot in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act?
- Is this parking lot leased by or to another entity? Who?
- Where is the lease?
- What does the lease provide as parties responsible for the inspection, repair, and maintenance of the parking lot?
- Are there any signs on the parking lot explaining who is responsible for its upkeep?
- Are there any signs on the parking lot that warn you of a dangerous condition on the property?
- Were any signs in place on the parking lot at the time of your accident that warned of a danger (like a “wet surface” sign)?
- Was there an accident report made after your fall?
- Who wrote it? What is their name and address?
- What other accident reports have been made regarding this parking lot in the past five years?
- Who wrote them? What is their name(s) and address(es)?
Do You Have an Accident Damages Claim For a Parking Lot Slip and Fall?
If you have been the victim of a slip and fall accident in a South Florida parking lot, then you should know your legal remedies under current Florida premises liability law before presenting a claim. An experienced Florida personal injury lawyer can be very helpful here, especially since our premises liability case law and statutory law places specific evidence burdens on the accident victim (for example, proving the business owner knew or should have known about the dangerous condition).
Once a victim is able to meet his or her burden, the owner and operator of that parking lot, and their insurance company, will be obligated to cover the victim’s damages, including your lost wages, pain and suffering and medical costs.
A good piece of advice if you or a loved one has been injured in a parking lot slip, trip or fall, is to at least speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person, whichever you prefer) to answer your questions.
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.
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