Who is Liable if I Slip and Fall in a Parking Lot?
A slip-and-fall is not always “just an accident.” In New York, property owners owe a duty of care to their guests. They agree to keep their premises, including parking lots, well-maintained, and free from known hazards. When the property owner fails to do so, and you become injured, it is within your legal right to sue for damages in civil court. Retaining the services of one of our talented New York City slip and fall lawyers will help you to recover the compensation you deserve.
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Which parking lot hazards are property owners responsible for?
Property owners must anticipate the weather and routinely check on the status of their lots.
Conditions that may prove particularly hazardous include:
- Potholes in areas where people are likely to be walking.
- Icy walkways and stairways that have not been salted.
- Cracked, broken, or uneven pavement and blacktop.
- Inadequate or confusing signage.
- Slushy snowdrifts that have not been shoveled or plowed.
- Spilled oil slicks.
- Pooling water or runoff related to poor drainage.
- Poor lighting.
- Lack of appropriate handrails.
Who can be sued for a parking lot slip-and-fall?
Civil court allows an individual to sue one or more negligent parties in a parking lot slip-and-fall accident, which may include:
- A private property owner – The names on the deed indicate who is ultimately liable.
- Municipal property owner – If you are injured in a lot owned by local government, you can seek remedy.
- Drivers — In some cases, another motorist may be driving recklessly or distractedly, causing you to fall.
- Subcontractors –– In cases where the property owner hired a subcontractor to over-see lot maintenance, you may sue them as well for their negligence.
Ultimately, the cost of settlement or jury verdict will likely be covered by the lot owner’s insurance provider.
When is a property owner liable for a parking lot fall?
New York State courts have held that a property owner doesn’t necessarily need to have been made aware of a dangerous condition to be considered liable. In Figueroa v. Lazarus Burman Associates, the defendant had made efforts to clear the ice and snow in the lot. However, they were ultimately held liable for negligence after the plaintiff slipped and fell on the residual slush two days later. The court ruled that the defendant had contributed to the creation of the hazardous condition by failing to salt and sand the lot in a timely manner.
When the snow is still actually falling, New York courts generally favor a “storm in progress” doctrine. This assumes that any unsafe conditions that occur during a single inclement weather incident are not the property owner’s responsibility. However, they have a reasonable duty of care to restore the parking lot’s condition once the storm has come to an end.
Can I be liable for my own parking lot accident?
New York follows the rule of “pure comparative negligence,” which means you can still collect payment if you were partially responsible for the accident. However, the amount you receive will be lowered proportionally with your percentage of fault. For instance, if you are set to receive $100,000, but it is determined you were 25% negligent, you would only receive $75,000. Even you were said to be 75% at-fault for the accident, you can still collect the remaining $25,000 of the judgment.
New York’s law is generous compared to other states following a rule of modified comparative negligence, which may award plaintiffs nothing if they are 51% or greater at-fault. Five states follow a rule of contributory negligence that disallows partially blamed plaintiffs from collecting anything at all.
Who you sue dictates how long you have to file your lawsuit.
Keep in mind, the statute of limitations does apply. If you are suing a government entity, for instance, you could have as little as six months to initiate formal proceedings. If you are suing a private property owner, you may have up to three years.
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