With the holiday shopping season well under way, the danger of parking lots – including ingress and egress – is of special concern with the added levels of traffic and more people in a hurry.
In general, owners and managers of parking lots aren’t liable for crashes that happen therein or immediately upon exit, unless there is some indication the owner/manager’s failed to maintain the property in reasonably safe condition somehow contributed to the crash.
Since New York state law was amended in 1949, owners and manager of parking lots, garages and other similar spaces have been unable to exempt themselves from liability for negligence resulting in injury to others. Still, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to show the property was unreasonably hazardous in some regard, and the owners/managers of the site failed to take appropriate action.
In some cases, certain conditions on parking lot property may contribute to an off-site crash, and in those cases, it may be possible for a crash victim to bring a claim against the property owner in connection with accident-related injuries.
Our Manhattan injury lawyers recognize some possible grounds on which a plaintiff might succeed in arguing negligent parking lot design:
- Failure to maintain the ramp or lot
- Improper or inadequate markings or traffic signals
- Poor design leading to blind spots or odd traffic flow patterns
- Ineffective ice and snow removal
- Improper lighting or security
In the recent case of Annocki v. Peterson Enters., LLC, the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division One granted plaintiff permission to proceed with her wrongful death claim predicated on the assertion of poor parking lot design.
Here, plaintiff sued a restaurant after a motor vehicle collision just outside the parking lot boundaries. According to the complaint, plaintiff – personal representative of decedent motorcyclist – decedent was operating his motorcycle on a highway traveling 45 mph when he collided with a car, whose driver was exiting the restaurant parking lot. In the middle of the highway were concrete temporary traffic dividers. Plaintiff says the at-fault driver was confused when he exited the parking lot, and was trying to make a left turn instead of a right turn.
Plaintiff alleges defendant restaurant knew or should have known the parking lot and driveway were designed in such a way as to create a danger of decreased visibility as patrons exited onto the highway. Despite having this knowledge, restaurant did not post any signage notifying patrons of the safest exit, and did not instruct parking lot attendants do so either.
Defendant argued it had no duty to warn of dangerous conditions on an adjacent public roadway. Further, defendant argued the crash was not foreseeable.
Plaintiff countered the condition of private property exposed people to unreasonable risk of injury offsite.
Trial court dismissed plaintiff’s complaint, but that decision was reversed by the appellate court, meaning the claim will move forward. The latter ruled while defendants could not control conditions of the public highway, there was a sufficient question of fact as to whether defendants owed a duty to warn patrons leaving the property only right turns were safe.
The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC offers free consultations. Call 1-877-313-7673.
Annocki v. Peterson Enters., LLC, Dec. 5, 2014, California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division One
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Allstate v. Rolon – Auto Insurance Follows the Vehicle, Oct. 21, 2014, Manhattan Car Accident Lawyer Blog