Does it Make a Difference If My Car Accident Happened in a Parking Lot?
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The expansion of our suburban communities has led to an increase in strip-malls and retail stores; and while it seems that the strip-malls and stores keep getting bigger, their parking lots have not.
Parking lots can pose a great danger to both motorists and pedestrians. This is due in large part to the confined space afforded to the number of parking spaces. Driver inattentiveness is also an issue, as more people seem concerned about finding the ideal parking space rather than paying attention to those around them.
If you have been injured in a Florida car accident in a parking lot, there are several potential avenues of recovery, depending on how your accident occurred. The first and most obvious is against the driver that hit you. An accident in a parking lot is treated just like an accident on the roadway. If the driver was negligent, you can make a claim under that driver’s insurance, provided there is bodily injury coverage. If you own a vehicle, your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits will apply to the first $10,000 of medical bills and lost wages. After that, you can make a claim under the other driver’s policy provided he/she was negligent in the manner in which they operated their vehicle. For example, was the driver speeding through the parking lot? Was the driver on their cellphone or otherwise not paying attention? If so, you may have a claim against that driver.
Can The Property Owner be Held Responsible for a Parking Lot Accident?
In addition to driver negligence, there can be other factors that cause or contribute to a parking lot accident. The condition of the property may be one such factor, as parking lots contain many hazards that can lead to accidents. Possible hazards include such things as:
Poorly configured parking spaces and driving lanes;
Improper placement of walkways; and
Improperly maintained parking lot conditions (ex. pavement, markings, etc.)
As with any property, the owner has a duty to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition. The owner also has the duty to warn people who have been invited onto the property of any dangerous conditions. This duty also applies to parking lots. For example, in the case of a blind spot in a parking lot, the owner may have a duty to place a sign in the area warning pedestrians and drivers of the existence and dangers of the blind spot. If it can be shown that a condition that existed on the property caused or contributed to the accident, then recovery could also be sought against the property owner.
As with any accident, the injured victim’s actions may have also caused or contributed to the parking lot accident. For example, if a pedestrian darts out in front of a car speeding through a parking lot without looking, the injured pedestrian can be held partially responsible for causing the accident. This is because Florida is a comparative fault state. This means that more than one person can be judged to have been at fault for causing a car accident. In the above example, the injured pedestrian can still recover for his/her injuries, but any recovery will be reduced by the injured pedestrian’s percentage of fault. As such, if a jury were to decide that the injured pedestrian’s damages were valued at $100,000, but the pedestrian was 50% at fault for causing the accident, then the pedestrian would only be able to recover a maximum of $50,000 for his/her injuries.
What Steps Should I Take Following a Parking Lot Accident?
If you have been injured in a parking lot accident, the most important thing you should do is to seek appropriate medical treatment for your injuries. It is also important that you notify the Police an of your accident. In addition, a careful examination of the area of the parking lot should be conducted to see if there are any hazards or conditions that may have caused or contributed to the accident, other than driver negligence. If so, the property owner should also be notified, and photographs should be taken so that you can later show the condition as it existed at the time of your accident.
If you have questions about your Florida auto accident case, you can download our Free Report – Things You Must Know If You Were In a Car Accident – which is available at our website, or you can click the link provided. You can also contact us at (813) 419-3866.
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What You MUST Know If You Were In A Car Accident In Florida
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