Slip and Fall Accident in a Parking Lot in Florida
People commonly slip and fall and suffer injuries in the parking lots of stores and businesses. As with any slip and fall or trip and fall accident, the claim for damages is a type of premises liability claim. Sometimes, there are multiple defendants who could be liable for your injuries. In other words, it may not be just the store owner who is liable for your injuries if you slip and fall in a parking lot at a store, restaurant, or some other business. Therefore, if you’ve suffered injuries as a result of a slip and fall in a parking lot, it’s beneficial to contact a slip and fall attorney to perform a thorough investigation to determine who could be liable for your harm.
The investigation of a parking lot slip and fall accident is critical. As we discussed, you want to identify all possible parties who may be liable for your injuries. That way, you can have the best chance of recovering the full value of your claim for damages. Our Orlando, Florida slip and fall lawyers are here to help. You can schedule your free consultation on our website, or you can call and set up your consultation at (321) 352-7588.
How Do Parking Lot Slip and Fall Accidents Happen in Florida?
Slip and fall accidents occur in parking lots for a number of reasons. Each accident is unique in some way. However, there are some common types of parking lot slip and falls that we tend to see. Here are some of the more common reasons people slip and fall in parking lots in Florida:
Poor Condition of the Parking Lot
With the sandy soil throughout Florida, concrete is susceptible to cracking and shifting. Over time, the cracked and broken concrete can fall off the edges of concrete slabs or erode into potholes. These potholes and cracks can be a serious slip and trip hazard. Additionally, when concrete shifts, it can leave an edge on the sidewalk or parking lot that can cause someone to fall. Hence, the poor maintenance of a parking lot is a particularly common reason people slip and fall and get injured.
Slick Substances on the Concrete
Over time, parking lots accumulate slippery substances. In the spots where the cars park, there are puddles of oil and other slippery fluids that leak from parked vehicles and accumulate over time. When enough oil accumulates on the concrete, it creates a slippery patch that is particularly dangerous when wet.
Parking Lot Lines
Sometimes parking lot lines cause people to slip and fall and get injured. For example, the parking lot line may be freshly painted, but there is no aggregate in the paint. The aggregate is a sandy material that makes the paint more abrasive so that it’s not slippery. Other times, companies will repaint lines in different locations. When they do, they will go in and polish the old lines to a slick finish instead of grinding them. This leaves a particularly slippery surface, especially when it’s wet. Thus, parking lot lines are a major cause of slip and falls.
Obstacles and Trip Hazards
There are many different obstacles and trip hazards that cause people to slip and fall in store parking lots. For example, a poorly marked concrete divider between parking spots is easy to trip over. These types of objects should be painted or otherwise made clearly visible. In the same way, a poorly marked speed bump or curb can be a serious trip hazard.
We can’t rule out the possibility that some people are the cause of their own slip and fall injuries. People walk around in bad footwear every day, and many people walk around after having too many drinks. An extra risky group walks around drunk and in slippery footwear. Also, many of us walk around looking down at our phones, which makes us more likely to bump into things or trip. Now, just because you’re liable for your slip and fall, it doesn’t mean you’re 100% liable. However, under the theory of comparative negligence in Florida, even if you’re partially at fault, you may still have a viable claim, but your recovery may be reduced by your own percentage of fault.
Who is Liable for a Slip and Fall in the Parking Lot of a Store, Convenience Store, Restaurant, or Other Business?
One of the first steps in pursuing an injury claim for a slip and fall in a parking lot is to determine who is liable. Many people and entities could be responsible. Below are some of the more common parties that are liable for a person’s injuries after a slip and fall in a parking lot.
The Property Owner
The property owner may be a separate entity, like an LLC, that owns the parking lot. That property owner may lease that parking lot to a store or other business. Because the property owner owns the actual parking lot, the property owner may be liable for your injuries after a slip and fall.
The Store, Restaurant, Convenience Store, Gas Station, or Business That Uses the Parking Lot
Assuming the parking lot is connected in some way to a business, that business may be liable for your injuries after you slip and fall in the parking lot. For example, if you parked in a parking lot to go into a restaurant, store, or gas station, and then you slipped and fell in that parking lot, the business you were visiting may be liable for your injuries.
The Construction Company Responsible for Building the Parking Lot
The company that built the parking lot may be liable for your injuries if the construction company negligently built the parking lot or didn’t build the parking lot up to the relevant construction codes.
The Company Responsible for Painting the Parking Lot Lines
If you slipped and fell on the parking lot lines in a parking lot, the company that painted those lines may be liable. For example, parking lot lines are supposed to contain aggregate. The aggregate is an abrasive material like sand that is generally mixed into the paint before application. Sometimes, however, companies do not add in the aggregate before painting the parking lot lines. This results in a super slippery line that is particularly dangerous when wet.
The Company Responsible for Maintaining the Parking Lot
The company responsible for maintaining the parking lot may also be liable for a slip and fall in the parking lot. For example, the company may be responsible for grinding down the edges of concrete that dangerously protrudes above surrounding or adjacent structures. Think about sidewalks where roots grow under one concrete plank and lift that plank higher than surrounding planks. This uneven concrete results in the perfect trip hazard. The solution is simple: Grind down that edge of concrete to make it less dangerous. If the maintenance company doesn’t do that and someone gets hurt, they may be liable.
You May Be Partially Liable Too
You may be partially at fault for your slip and fall accident in a parking lot. As we mentioned above, Florida is a pure comparative negligence state, which means that you can still bring a claim even if you are mostly at fault. However, your recovery may be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if a jury awards you $100,000 and finds that you are 70% at fault, your gross recovery would be the $100,000 minus 70%, which would be $30,000.
Proving Negligence or Fault in a Case Involving a Slip and Fall in a Parking Lot
Slip and fall cases are a type of premises liability case, and premises liability is a claim based on negligence. Overall, most negligence cases boil down to the same four elements: (1) Damages; (2) Duty; (3) Breach; and (4) Causation.
Damages are things like your medical bills, missed work, pain and suffering, and anything else that may be compensable in your premises liability claim. If you haven’t been injured and if you haven’t suffered any damages, then the buck stops here because a claim for damages requires some sort of damage.
The duty element is sometimes called the “duty of care.” This essentially means that the landlord or other party that’s potentially liable in the slip and fall case owed patrons a duty to prevent or remedy unreasonable risks of harm.
The breach element is sometimes called the “breach of duty.” This essentially means that the liable party did not fulfil its duty of care. In other words, it breached the duty of care it owed to you by failing to properly maintain the parking lot or by failing to take reasonable steps to remedy or mitigate an unreasonably dangerous condition in the parking lot.
Causation involves both but for causation and proximate causation, also known as “legal causation.” But for causation means that, but for the breach of duty, you would not have suffered injuries as a result of a slip and fall in the parking lot. Proximate causation exists to keep the system from punishing people for unforeseeable harms. Thus, to satisfy proximate cause, the injuries that occurred must have been reasonably foreseeable.
Each and every one of the four elements above must be satisfied for there to be a viable premises liability claim. In other words, if one of these elements is not satisfied, then the case may not be a good one. Let’s look at a hypothetical.
Negligence Hypothetical for Slip and Fall in Parking Lot
As an example of how we walk through negligence, let’s say the parking lot painter (“Painting Company”) didn’t put aggregate in the paint before painting the parking lines, and then someone slipped on the line a few days later after a rain. As a result of the slip and fall, the victim needed a $50,000 knee surgery. First, there are damages because the victim needed surgery and surely experienced serious pain and suffering. Second, Painting Company had a duty to properly mix the paint to avoid creating an unreasonable risk of harm to folks walking through the parking lot. Third, Painting Company breached that duty by failing to properly mix the aggregate into the paint. Fourth, but for the parking lot line having no aggregate in the paint, the patron would not have slipped on the line. Moreover, it was foreseeable to the painter that leaving aggregate out of the paint would create an unreasonable risk of harm to people walking in the parking lot. Therefore, but for and proximate causation are satisfied.
What Injuries Can I be Compensated for If I Slipped and Fell in a Parking Lot?
Slip and falls in parking lots typically occur on solid ground, like concrete or asphalt. These materials are very unforgiving, and so the injuries can be severe. Some injuries can even cause permanent damage or death. Below are some of the more common injuries that result from slip and fall accidents in store or business parking lots:
- Head Injuries;
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs);
- Spine and Back Injuries;
- Neck Injuries;
- Sprains and Strains;
- Knee Injuries;
- ACL and MCL Injuries;
- Ligament Injuries; and
- Bruises and Lacerations.
These are by no means a complete list of possible injuries that a person could suffer as a result of a slip and fall in a store parking lot. If you’ve suffered any serious injury because of a slip and fall, you may be entitled to compensation, and you should seriously consider speaking with a slip and fall attorney as soon as possible.
Contact an Orlando, Florida Slip and Fall Attorney for Your FREE Legal Consultation
If you slipped and fell in a store or business parking lot and suffered injuries as a result, you may have a cause of action against the party or parties that caused your harm. We offer free legal consultations. Additionally, at our law firm, lawyers do the consultations, not intake specialists or customer service representatives. Contact us on our website or call us at (321) 352-7588 to schedule your free consultation with an Orlando, Florida slip and fall attorney.