If I Fall in a Parking Lot, Who Is Responsible?
If I Fall in a Parking Lot, Who Is Responsible?
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If I Fall in a Parking Lot, Who Is Responsible?
Personal injury law breaks down into several different practices, such as car accidents, slip and falls, and product liability cases. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Morgan and Morgan also litigate wrongful death and medical malpractice lawsuits. One personal injury law practice that does not receive as much attention is called premises liability, which involves cases in which at least one party failed to protect visitors to private or commercial property from sustaining one or more injuries as a result of an accident.
For example, let’s assume an object fell from a bookcase and struck you in the ribs. You sustained a couple of broken ribs, as well as a bruised sternum. The subsequent medical treatment racked up medical bills that ran into the thousands of dollars. Because the owner of the property failed to secure the object, you might have a strong enough case to file a premises liability lawsuit that seeks monetary damages.
Not all premises liability cases are that clear-cut. If you fell in a parking lot, who is responsible for covering the financial losses associated with your injuries? Does the owner of the parking lot assume legal liability or does the owner of the store located where you fell have to cover your financial losses? Maybe you fell in an area of the parking lot where the local government retains responsibility for ensuring the safety of visitors to a shopping mall or grocery store.
At Morgan and Morgan, our team of highly-rated personal injury attorneys has helped clients recover their financial losses from premises liability cases for more than 30 years. Since 1988, Morgan and Morgan has helped clients recover more than $14 billion in monetary damages. Because a slip and fall in a parking lot presents complex legal issues, you should consider contacting one of the experienced personal injury lawyers at Morgan and Morgan today to schedule a free case evaluation.
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What Is Premises Liability Law?
At the heart of premises liability law is the legal requirement that the owner of a private or commercial property assumes legal liability when someone visiting the private or commercial property sustains one or more injuries that result from an accident. Hazards and unsafe conditions cause the most types of premises liability incidents. If you fell in a parking lot, knowing who is responsible helps you gather the persuasive evidence you need to pursue legal action.
You have the right to sue the owner of private or commercial property regardless of whether the property owner knew about the hazard or unsafe conditions. Nonetheless, if the premises liability lawyer that you hire from Morgan and Morgan can prove the owner of a property intentionally created hazards and/or unsafe conditions, the judge hearing your civil lawsuit might award you substantially more compensation.
How Should I Handle a Premises Liability Accident?
Although sustaining one or more injuries because of a premises liability accident can disrupt your focus, you must gather your senses and follow a few steps to help you file a convincing insurance claim and possibly a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages.
Contact the Nearest Law Enforcement Agency
Getting the local police department involved in a premises liability case initiates a formal investigation that leads to the submission of an incident report. One or more officers conduct a thorough investigation to determine the cause of the premises liability accident, as well as who, if anyone, should assume responsibility for causing the accident. The personal injury attorney working on your case from Morgan and Morgan will review the formal police report before deciding whether to take legal action against the owner of the property.
Get the Property Owner or Manager Involved
If you fell down at someone’s home, the property owner should immediately find out about the incident. However, the same cannot be said for the owner of a commercial property, such as a hotel or restaurant. You should contact the owner of commercial property as soon as possible after a premises liability accident. Getting the property owner involved early in the process increases the likelihood of negotiating a favorable settlement.
Gather and Organize Evidence
Although the nearest law enforcement department is responsible for collecting and organizing evidence, you can help your premises liability lawyer by taking photographs of the accident scene. Your attorney is especially interested in determining whether negligence played a pivotal role in causing the accident. You should also obtain the names and contact information of witnesses to hand over to your personal injury attorney during a free case evaluation.
Take Care of Your Injuries
When you receive medical attention depends on the severity of your injuries. For example, if a fall caused a concussion, you should seek immediate medical care to determine whether there is additional brain trauma. On the other hand, sustaining several cuts and abrasions can wait for medical care until you complete the other steps in the process. You cannot expect to have a judge award you monetary damages for a premises liability lawsuit if you do not submit medical bills and records.
Hire a Premises Liability Attorney From Morgan and Morgan
You might ask the question, “If I fall in a parking lot, who is responsible for covering the cost of my medical bills?” Working with one of the personal injury attorneys at Morgan and Morgan can help you answer the question. The key is to hire a legal counselor before you file an insurance claim and/or a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages.
What Questions Should I Ask After a Fall in a Parking Lot?
Your premises liability attorney needs to answer a few questions before determining how to proceed with your parking lot case. The decision concerning the filing of a civil lawsuit hinges on the answer to two important questions.
What Caused Me to Fall?
The first item on your personal injury attorney's to-do list during an investigation is to determine what causes you to fall in a parking lot. One of the most common reasons is inadequate lighting, especially if the parking lot includes several enclosed levels. A slick surface caused by ice and snow can cause a fall even when the lighting is sufficient. Electrical cords, fallen objects such as tree branches, and a poorly designed handrail attached to a wall on a stairwell also can produce injuries that result from a fall in a parking lot.
To prevent the most common causes of falls in parking lots, property owners must complete regular maintenance, as well as undergo several safety inspections throughout the year.
Who Is Legally Responsible?
After determining the cause of your parking lot fall, the Morgan and Morgan lawyer assigned to your case discovers which party should assume legal liability for causing you harm. The owner of the parking lot is the most likely party responsible for causing your injuries. Unless you fell in a parking lot owned by a large corporation at its headquarters, the owner of the parking lot is probably different from the owners of the businesses that lease parking spaces.
However, the owner of a business might assume legal liability if the owner is contractually obligated to provide maintenance services for a certain section of a parking lot. For example, a convenience store owner might sign a contract that makes the business legally responsible for removing ice and snow from the 10 closest parking spaces to the store.
Other parties that can assume legal liability for a parking lot fall include government agencies and apartment complex owners.
What Does My Morgan and Morgan Attorney Need to Do to Prove Negligence?
After your Morgan and Morgan attorney determines the cause of your fall and which party should assume blame for your injuries, the next step before filing a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages is to prove the presence of the four elements of negligence.
Duty of Care
The duty of care doctrine is simple: Does a party have a legal obligation to protect you from sustaining injuries while on private or commercial property. Whether it is a homeowner, parking lot owner, or retail store owner, all three parties have a duty of care to protect everyone that visits their property.
Proving the duty of care element is the easiest element to prove for establishing negligence.
Violating the Duty of Care Doctrine
As the second element of proving negligence, showing a party violated the duty of care doctrine requires the submission of evidence that demonstrates careless and/or reckless behavior. If you fell in a parking lot because of the accumulation of ice, the party responsible for clearing the ice has violated the duty of care doctrine. This step requires the gathering and organizing of persuasive physical evidence.
Caused Your Injuries
Just because you fell in a parking lot does not mean the fall caused your injuries. The attorney representing the property owner will try to show that your injuries developed because of another incident. Let’s assume a visitor to a parking lot fell because of the presence of a hazard. The presence of the hazard prompted the victim to brace for the fall by putting out one arm, which apparently produced a fractured wrist. However, one week before the parking lot fall, the victim broke their wrist during a recreational basketball game.
The basketball game caused the fractured wrist, not the fall in a parking lot.
Injuries Generated Financial Losses
Proving the fourth element of negligence is the key to getting a judge to approve an award for monetary damages. The personal injury lawyer assigned to your case by Morgan and Morgan submits copies of your medical bills and records to present a direct link between your injuries and the cost of treating them.
Determine Who Is at Fault for a Parking Lot Fall
Since falls in parking lots present a few complex legal challenges, working with one of the experienced premises liability attorneys at Morgan and Morgan can help you receive the compensation that you deserve. You have the right to receive compensation for paying medical bills, as well as covering the value of lost wages. If you suffer from mental and emotional distress because of a fall in a parking lot, your legal counselor will ask for non-economic damages that cover the intangible costs associated with pain and suffering. The judge hearing your case also might award you punitive damages to penalize the defendant for committing one or more acts of negligence.
Schedule a free case evaluation to answer the question, “If I fall in a parking lot, who is responsible?”