Slip and fall accidents are one of the most common ways that people are hurt in accidents where someone else is at fault. Parking lots and sidewalks that are not maintained and repaired when necessary can become trip, slip, and fall hazards for unsuspecting guests. Victims can suffer long-term injuries such as hip fractures, back, shoulder, and spine injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. If you were injured in one of these accidents, you may be able to hold the business or property owner responsible for compensating you for your injuries.
Why Do Slip and Fall Accidents Happen in Parking Lots and Sidewalks?
Property owners and businesses have a duty to keep their properties reasonably safe and to warn guests of any dangers. This duty extends to their sidewalks and parking lots. Fulfilling this duty requires regular inspections to identify dangerous conditions, regular cleaning up of hazards, and following up with repairs and maintenance when necessary. When owners breach this duty, guests can injure themselves when they slip or trip and fall on the hard concrete. Reasons these tragic accidents occur include:
- Ice. When the weather gets cold, sidewalks and parking lots can become dangerously slippery. Puddles in parking lots and sidewalks can freeze into ice when steps are not taken to remove water accumulations. Black ice can be especially dangerous because it is often impossible for guests to see.
- Snow and sleet. While snow and sleet are not common in the Atlanta area, the accumulation can make sidewalks and parking lots even more dangerous if not promptly removed. Not only is the snow and sleet slippery, but it can also hide slick ice patches.
- Spills. In our fast-paced world, many people eat and drink while they walk. When spills are not cleaned up, they create a hazard for other people. In addition, leaks of oil and other substances in parking lots can create a slipping hazard.
- Debris. When trash and other debris is not cleaned up, they can create unexpected obstacles, and a slip and fall accident can be the result.
- Pavement defects. Parking lots and sidewalks are made of asphalt and concrete. These substances deteriorate from the weather and with time, causing parking lot and sidewalk surfaces to become uneven and cracked. Even more dangerous, potholes can develop. This can cause a serious fall hazard when owners do not regularly maintain these surfaces or repair problems.
- Poor lighting. When lighting is poor, guests cannot see hazards, such as slick surfaces, debris, or cracked pavement. This is a common contributing cause to many slip and fall accidents at night.
- Wheel stops. Wheel stops are the abutments found when pulling into some parking spaces. If they are cracked or misaligned, an unsuspecting patron can trip over them and fall.
Who Could Be Liable for Compensating You After a Slip and Fall Accident?
Determining the liable party in a sidewalk or parking lot slip and fall accident is more complicated than you may think. In some cases, more than one party could be responsible for compensating you. It is important to identify all possible negligent parties because this can increase the likelihood that you will receive the full compensation you may be entitled to. Possible parties you may need to file a claim with include:
- Owner. The owner of a business or other property has a duty to inspect and maintain his property—including the parking lot and sidewalk. When he fails to correct dangerous conditions or warn guests of hazards, he could be responsible for compensating a slip and fall accident victim.
- Operators of a business or other property. Some businesses or other commercial entities rent rather than own the property they are using for their restaurant, store, or other commercial services. They could face liability if their lease requires them to maintain and repair the parking lot and they fail to do so. Even if the owner is responsible for the parking lot, the business could face partial liability if it knew of a dangerous condition and did not take reasonable steps to notify the owner and ensure the problem was corrected.
- Apartment complex owners. If you fell in an apartment complex parking lot, the landlord is almost always responsible for maintenance of the parking lot as a common area for all tenants and guests—and liable for compensating you if you fall due to a hazardous condition.
- Government entity. If a city, county, or other governmental entity is responsible for maintaining a public sidewalk, you may need to seek compensation from them for your injuries after a fall. However, governments have some immunity from being sued, and you may need to follow specific notice requirements in order to pursue your claim. These cases can be extremely complicated, and you want to retain an experienced slip and fall accident attorney right away if you fell on a public sidewalk.
If you were injured in a slip and fall accident in a parking lot or sidewalk, Brauns Law is here to help you obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Start an online chat or call our office today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation.