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Where do you turn when injured in a parking lot or ramp?

The parking lot may seem like a gray area when it comes to liability for personal injury and eligibility for workers' compensation, but there's actually a set of standards to help individuals determine if they have a legal case against the property owner or employer. Parking lots are high-traffic areas with the potential for a variety of types of accidents and injuries, and it's critical that drivers, employees, property owners and employers understand the legalities surrounding these semi-public spaces.

Accidents and injuries that can occur in parking lots and ramps

Parking lot injuries are more common than many people realize. These are the types of injuries that often occur in parking lot areas:

  • Slip and fall accidents -- Cracks in the pavement, potholes in the concrete and inadequate lighting during dawn and dusk hours are just a few contributing factors to the slip and fall accidents that often occur in parking lots. A minor slip and fall accident is typically not a big deal, but many of these accidents can result in severe injuries that prevent an individual from carrying out their job responsibilities or require significant medical treatment.
  • Motor vehicle accidents resulting in injuries or fatalities -- Most drivers who are maneuvering through a parking lot are looking for the closest space to leave their car for the day, and they are often distracted. This puts pedestrians at an increased risk of being involved in an accident with a motor vehicle. These accidents can cause serious, life-altering injuries or tragically, even fatalities. Inadequate signage, speed bumps and general distractions are often the root cause of these incidents.
  • Assault injuries in parking lots

    In most circumstances, a person who is injured during a crime that takes place in a parking lot cannot hold the parking lot owner or employer who maintains the lot responsible for the injury. Assault crimes and petty theft are not uncommon in parking lots, and those who are using the lots should take the proper safety precautions to avoid being involved in these crimes. However, if it is found that the crime was forseeable and the parking lot owner could have taken efforts to protect the lot from the criminal, then the owner may be held responsible for the injury sustained by the individual during the crime.

Liability limits in parking lots

There are limitations on liability in the event of parking lot accidents and injuries. One of the major limitations is foreseeability, which means that the accident or injury must be the result of negligence on the part of the party responsible for maintaining the lot. Reasonability is the other limitation placed on liability, which requires parking lot owners to address unreasonable risks but does not hold them responsible for every minor risk that may be present in a parking lot area. Essentially, an employee who is walking to work from the parking should be able to address and accommodate reasonable risks that may be present, such as minor cracks in the pavement. They cannot hold their employer liable and file a worker's compensation claim if the injury could have been avoided by using common sense.


Eligibility for worker's compensation after an injury in your employer's parking lot

There is no defined rule for whether workers are eligible for worker's compensation if they are injured in the parking lot on their way to work or on their way home after the day is complete. In most cases, it depends on the individual circumstances surrounding the injury. Generally, worker's compensation covers employees who are injured during the course of the work day while completing the tasks necessary for their job. However, if the employer owns the parking lot premises or hires a contractor to maintain the premises, the injured employee may be eligible for worker's compensation.

Employers who are injured in the parking lot located at their place of employment should work with an attorney who specializes in worker's compensation law. A qualified attorney will work to ensure that the employer receives the compensation that they need to cover any health care expenses as well as lost wages that result from the injury.


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