Who Is Liable for a Slip and Fall Accident in a Parking Lot?

Who is liable for a slip and fall accident in a parking lot blog at Henderson LawIf you recently tumbled on gravel or pavement, you may be wondering: Can you sue for falling in a parking lot? Any slip and fall can result in serious injury, but falling in a parking lot can lead to particularly gnarly injuries, depending on the ground beneath you. The resulting injuries may result in financial worry for you and your family when facing mounting medical bills and an inability to work. This article discusses everything from liability to slip and fall parking lot settlements. As always, Henderson Law is available to answer your questions.

If I Fall in a Parking Lot, Who Is Responsible?

Determining liability after a slip and fall accident can be more complex than you might think. As the plaintiff, it is your burden to prove liability and damages. 

Determine the Owner of the Property

It can be challenging to identify the owner of the parking lot. Just because you fell in the “Store ABC” parking lot does not mean that “Store ABC” owns the property. The property owner can be an entirely different entity or individual. It is also possible for both the store owner and the property owner to be at fault. Identifying who owned the property and who might be at fault can be challenging, but we can help by pulling public records such as land titles, requesting lease documentation, and more. 

Defendant’s Duty of Care

Once you identify the proper defendant, you must establish that they owed you a duty of care. The duty of care owed to a plaintiff depends on the visitor’s classification. There are three types of visitors: invitee, licensee, and trespasser, and each is owed a different level of care from a property owner.

  • Trespasser. A property owner owes a trespasser the lowest duty of care and typically must only refrain from intentionally harming an individual who does not have permission to be on their property. While it is possible to be considered a trespasser in a parking lot (i.e., the parking lot is closed or roped off), for the most part, a person in a parking lot will be considered an invitee or licensee.
  • Licensee. While a licensee is not technically an invited guest, a property owner should have some reason to believe they may enter their property. Therefore, a property owner owes a licensee a higher duty of care than an invitee. 
  • Invitee. An invitee is an expected and welcome guest on the owner’s property and is owed the highest care.

Breach and Injury

Once you have established the applicable duty of care, you must prove the defendant breached that duty by failing to keep the property safe and free of defects and that breach caused your injury and losses.

Establishing these connections can be complicated, but our experienced team can help.

Common Causes of a Slip and Fall In a Parking Lot

The causes of a slip and fall in a parking lot will largely overlap with those inside a home or business. However, some are unique to parking lots or other outdoor environments. Often, the cause of a parking lot fall is not apparent but something more obscure.

Common causes of slip and fall accidents in a parking lot include the following:

  • Wet and puddled pavement,
  • Spills,
  • Oil slicks,
  • Loose gravel,
  • Uneven or cracked pavement,
  • Poor lighting,
  • Debris or clutter obstructing walkways,
  • Unmarked stairs or steep decline, and
  • Lack of warning about a known hazard.

This list is not exhaustive, and often, there may be more than one contributing factor. For instance, if the parking lot has poor lighting at night and you trip over an unmarked curb, the cause is twofold. No matter the cause of your slip and fall incident, if someone else’s negligence is to blame, we can help you hold them liable.

Common Slip and Fall Injuries

The injuries from a slip and fall in a parking lot can be numerous. However, there are certain types of injuries we see time and again. These include:

  • Concussions,
  • Other traumatic brain injuries,
  • Road rash,
  • Fractured bones,
  • Wrist injuries,
  • Neck and back injuries,
  • Spinal cord injuries, 
  • Lacerations,
  • Hip fractures, and
  • Chronic pain.

It is also common to sustain more than one injury from a single fall incident. Whatever your situation, it is imperative to receive immediate medical care to diagnose, treat, and document your injuries.

Slip and Fall Compensation

It is difficult to accurately state the precise amount of compensation you will receive for a parking lot slip and fall. However, many factors will be considered in settlement negotiations or a court award, including:

  • Present and future medical costs,
  • The severity of your injuries,
  • Permanency of your injuries,
  • Lost wages,
  • Inability to earn a living,
  • Pain and suffering, 
  • Insurance policy limits, and
  • Applicable state law.

If you are looking to file a claim for damages after a slip and fall accident, it is crucial to consult with an attorney to discuss these factors before accepting any settlement offers from the insurance company. Remember, their job is to pay as little as possible for your claim. It is our job to ensure we maximize your compensation. 

What Should You Do If You Slip and Fall in a Parking Lot?

There are several things you should do after a slip and fall to protect your health and your future right to compensation. If you are seriously injured in a slip and fall while walking in a parking lot, you should seek immediate medical attention. This may involve calling 911 and requesting an EMS response, visiting your local emergency room, or scheduling an appointment with your primary care physician. Regardless of the severity of your injuries, you should always have a physician examine you. Many injuries are hidden after an accident and only worsen with time.

In parking lot accidents, it can be difficult to know who the property owner is and even more challenging to notify them. Still, you should make every effort to let the owner or operator of the property know. For instance, if you trip and fall in a strip mall parking lot, the property owner is likely off-site. However, you should notify the store manager or person in charge of what transpired. 

It is also wise to make a police or accident report to document the incident. If possible, take pictures and obtain eyewitness information. 

Consult a Santa Rosa, California, Slip and Fall Lawyer

At Henderson Law, we have been representing slip and fall victims for over 25 years. If you or someone you love was recently injured in a parking lot fall, the road to recovery can be challenging. We have the skills and resources necessary to guide you through. Contact us for a free consultation.