There are many hazards in parking lots that you should be aware of. What are they, and what are you supposed to do if you’re involved in a parking lot accident?
What Are Parking Lot Hazards?
It may not seem that way, but parking lots are wastelands of potential hazards. From tripping over wheel stops, potholes, or speed bumps, to getting into an accident because of a missing stop sign, there are many reasons accidents can happen in parking lots.
The National Safety Council found that around 60,000 people are injured and 500 people die in parking lots each year. Of those 60,000 accidents, 50,000 of them are crashes. That leaves the other 10,000 as pedestrian accidents, such as tripping and falling.
But who’s at fault when it comes to a poorly lit parking lot or an unpainted speed bump? Sometimes it’s hard to say. However, if you were involved in a parking lot accident, the lawyers at Viles & Beckman might be able to help you. Read on to find out more about these accidents.
If you’re unfamiliar with what a wheel stop is, it’s simply the piece of concrete at the end of the parking spaces in parking lots that keep cards from going too far forward. Hence, wheel stops. They’re also sometimes referred to as tire stops. Wheel stops are also used to prevent encroachment, meaning that they stop cars from entering a path, say a sidewalk where pedestrians might be walking.
As these wheel stops are made more often from concrete (but also occasionally wood, plastic, or metal) they need to be maintained properly. If not maintained properly, they can cause accidents. We’re not just talking about a car rolling into a wheel stop, but a pedestrian tripping over one.
Tripping over a wheel stop can also be a combination of other things, particularly bad lighting in the parking lot. However, say the lighting is fine and you just trip over the stop. There’s still a chance you could be compensated.
Wheel stops follow a particular set of standards and have to be up to code at all times. Tire stops must be painted a contrasting color to help them stand out. If they’re not painted this color, it may be easier to trip over them.
Pavement Problems: Potholes, Cracks, Bumps, and Sewer Grates
Let’s start with potholes first. Potholes are caused by water. Water freezing and thawing causes cracks in the pavement. When cars hit them, they can get bigger, causing more problems. According to Pothole: Preserve and Protect, “The areas more prone to pothole development are where drainage is poor, where vehicular traffic is greatest, and where poor maintenance allows small fissures to deteriorate.”
This can be true of cracks and bumps as well. If the maintenance team isn’t working to keep their parking lot safe and trip-hazard free, they could potentially be the ones at fault.
Pothole: Preserve and Protect also states that, “Failure to spend $1 in road repair typically results in $7 of cost five years later.” That means that roads and parking lots can deteriorate rather quickly, and if businesses aren’t paying attention to their parking lots, someone could get hurt.
When it comes to sewer grates, the same thing is true. Sewer grates and manhole covers present a huge risk if they’re not up to code. If they’re not well lit they easily become a tripping hazard, but if the asphalt around them is broken or cracked, they’re quickly unsafe as well.
Unpainted Speed Bumps
With the goal of slowing traffic, these unpainted speed bumps can be a serious hazard to pedestrians in parking lots. This is especially true of pedestrians with visual problems who may not be able to see the bumps at all, or pedestrians who need an assist walking, such as a cane, walker, or wheelchair.
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Barbara Wick of Community Association Risk Management and Insurance Consultants said, “Apparently, the real issue with speed bumps is their gradual incline and monochromatic surface. This visually enhances the problems created by glare and other distractions around streets and parking areas, and results in a terrible trip hazard.”
Painting all speed bumps yellow is one way to make sure that they are visually obvious to people passing through the parking lots. However, this is not always done, and when they’re left unpainted, they can be a serious hazard.
Poor or No Lighting
In most of cases of parking lot hazards, lighting comes into play. There could be a properly up to code wheel stop in place, but if the lighting is poor and you trip over it, the owner of the parking lot could still be at fault.
Lighting is incredibly important in parking lots because of how hazardous they are. As stated above, they’re filled with tons of tripping hazards. Proper lighting could help cut these hazards down, but not destroy them completely. Even with the best lighting, unpainted speed bumps and deep potholes are still very much a problem.
MyParkingSign states that one of the dangerous parts of parking lots are the parts that are unlit and highly recommends parking in a well lit area of the parking lot. However, what are you supposed to do when there isn’t a well lit section, or the entire parking lot is poorly lit?
Missing Stop Signs and Low Signage
In a terrible car accident in 2018, a teen was killed on a dangerously curved road. After investigation, they found out that the warning sign had been removed from the curve and that it could have prevented the teen’s death.
There are a lot of signs that could go missing in parking lots, especially stop signs, one way signs, or yield signs. When these signs go missing, drivers are left guessing what they’re supposed to do. When there’s not stop or yield signs, a driver won’t stop or yield to oncoming traffic. This could cause a collision very easily. If there are no ‘one way’ signs, the drivers will have no way of knowing that the roads are one way (which are very common in parking lots).
Puddles and Poor Water Drainage
In Florida, we deal with a lot of rain. Therefore, our parking lots need to have well-maintained drainage systems. When there’s a lot of rain, something called “rutting” can happen. According to Greenway Industries, “Rutting is a depression in any asphalt surface, characterized by deformed or indented pavement.”
When this happens, it can cause rain water to collect in these newly indented patches of concrete. This can cause tripping and slipping. If these areas aren’t maintained or fixed properly, someone could get injured.
What We Know About Parking Lot Hazards
That was a lot of information about parking lots, however they can be a very hazardous place if they’re not kept up properly. Parking lot maintenance is the solution to a hazard free parking lot.
In addition to hazards like these, parking lots can also be dangerous because of distracted driving. According to the NSC, 66% of drivers said they would make phone calls while driving through parking lots. 63% also said they would program their GPS. 56% said they would text, and 52% said they would use social media. 50% stated they would send or receive emails, and 49% said they would take photos or watch videos.
That’s almost over half the population that stated they would take pictures or watch videos while driving through a parking lot! That’s an insanely high number of reckless drivers and only elevates the fact that parking lots need to be safe.
When people are distracted while driving, things like potholes, missing stop signs, and poor lighting become all the more dangerous.
How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help You?
Personal injury refers to any damage that you or your loved one experiences as a result of someone else’s negligence. In this case, that could be a business or parking lot owner refusing to fill potholes or install proper lighting.
If you were involved in a parking lot injury such as tripping or falling over a sewer grate, unpainted speed bump, wheel stop, or anything else listed above, contact the lawyers at Viles & Beckman for a free case evaluation. Contact us online or at (239) 260-5127.
About the Author of this Page: The above information was written or reviewed by one of the attorneys at Viles & Beckman LLC who have a combined experience of nearly 60 years: Marcus Viles, Michael Beckman or Maria Alaimo. The information provided in this article comes from years of experience trying legal cases outside and inside courtrooms throughout Florida along with extensive research.