Under Virginia law, business owners have an obligation of care towards their customers and visitors. The question is – is the obligation of care limited to the premises alone or is it applicable to the parking lot as well?
In other words, if you are injured in the parking lot of a business establishment, can you hold the owner responsible for your injuries? The answer is – in some cases, you can and in some other cases, you cannot.
Applying Premises Liability Laws to Parking Lots – What You Need to Know
A parking lot is nothing but an extension of a building. So, the premises liability laws that are applicable to the building are also applicable to the parking lot – assuming the building and the parking lot are owned by the same party.
This is why business establishments in Virginia are expected to ensure that their parking lots are safe for customers, visitors, and pedestrians. If they fail to do so, and if their negligence results in an accident, the injured victim can file a premises liability lawsuit against them and seek damages.
The most common parking lot hazards that the owner of the property can be held responsible for include damaged pavement, poor lighting, lack of signage, and lack of security.
If the pavement of the parking lot is damaged, it can create a hazardous environment for people who park their vehicles there. The presence of large cracks and potholes can increase the risk of slip and fall accidents. If the business owner fails to repair the pavement in a timely manner, they can be held liable for the accidents caused as a result of their negligence.
A dimly lit parking lot not only increases the risk of slip and fall accidents, but also makes a perfect hiding spot for criminal elements. So, the business owner has a responsibility to fix the issue as soon as it is brought to their attention, failing which they can be held liable for the consequences of their negligence.
Lack of Signage
Lack of signage in a parking lot is a serious issue, as it can increase the risk of vehicle-on-vehicle collisions as well as vehicle-pedestrian collisions. In such cases, the victims might be able to sue the inattentive driver who caused the accident as well as the business owner whose negligence created the conditions that led to the accident.
Lack of Security
Lack of adequate security in a parking lot can increase the risk of burglary, physical assault, sexual assault, and other such crimes, especially if the parking lot is located in an area with a high crime rate. While the business owner cannot be expected to provide security to everyone who visits their establishment, it is reasonable to expect them to take steps that can reduce the risk of criminal activities within their premises. So, in some cases, the victim of a burglary or assault might be able to hold the business owner responsible.
On the other hand, a business owner cannot be held liable for a vehicular collision that takes place in their parking lot, if it was not caused as a result of their negligence.
For example, if a driver crashes into your vehicle while trying to back into the parking lot, you cannot hold the business owner responsible for your injuries, as the accident was caused by the actions of the inattentive driver.
Why You Should Be Represented by an Experienced Attorney in a Premises Liability Case
In order to establish the negligence of a business owner in a premises liability case, you need to prove the following claims.
- They had a duty of care towards you.
- They failed in their duty.
- Their breach of duty resulted in an accident, in which you were injured.
This is why it’s vital for you to be represented by an experienced premises liability attorney. The attorney you choose should be able to do the following things:
- Investigate the accident to find out what or who caused it and who can be held liable.
- Collect the evidence needed to establish the negligence and liability of the parties responsible.
- Negotiate with the liable party’s insurance company for a favorable settlement deal.
- Make convincing arguments in court (if the case goes to trial) and recover the maximum amount of damages possible.
The experienced personal injury attorneys at Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn have handled several premises liability cases over the years and have managed to achieve a favorable outcome for our clients in a vast majority of cases – through settlement as well as trial.
If you have been injured in an accident at a business establishment, you might be able to bring a premises liability lawsuit against the owner of the establishment and recover damages. To find out if you have a case against the business establishment and how our attorneys can help you, call us today at 800-752-0042.https://www.hsinjurylaw.com/faqs/why-are-premises-liability-cases-tough-in-virginia-.cfm