Potholes in Parking Lot
Potholes are a common occurrence nearly anywhere you travel. They occur when the top surface of a parking lot or roadway wears away to the base below. Once a small hole is made, rainwater, snow, and ice can accelerate the process and increase the hole dramatically in size. The damage only gets worse as the hole is driven over. That is also how dangerous accidents can occur.
With more and more motor vehicles on the road, as well as bicycle and scooter commuters, these holes, pits, and craters can be particularly dangerous. Even small potholes can be dangerous for smaller vehicles, bicyclists, and scooters. Elderly and handicapped citizens who depend on mobility carts are especially vulnerable to pothole injuries.
Private Property Liability for Potholes
People or businesses that own private property and parking lots are liable for potholes that cause injuries to people. Lawsuits for these injuries can be filed under premises liability laws. While the severity of the injuries will play somewhat of a role in these lawsuits, the key to filing a lawsuit is whether there were monetary damages such as lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering as a result of the injuries.
If you are injured on public property that belongs to the government, such as a city, county, the lawsuit will be filed against the public entity in charge of the property. Notice in writing is generally required within that statutorily mandated time limit, generally 10 days. Although these lawsuits can pose a bit more of a challenge, a government entity can still be found liable if the pothole was in a state of disrepair. In these situations, a plaintiff could receive a significant amount of compensation for their injuries.
Liability in Pothole Accidents
While being injured in a pothole accident may seem straightforward, determining liability can be quite complicated. You should speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer who will likely ask you a variety of questions to start the ball rolling with your claim. Your lawyer may ask you if there were any witnesses to the accident, where the accident occurred, and what your injuries were. Depending on the location and nature of the accident, your lawyer will then determine who may be liable for your injuries and whether or not that party can be sued. A lot of factors determine this type of claim, but your lawyer can help you understand your legal options.
Why a Pothole Injury May be Difficult to Win
When these types of accidents occur, it is common for the business or landowner to claim that the pothole in the parking lot was obvious and open to the customers or people in the parking lot and that they should have appreciated the potential danger. However, this defense ignores the fact that it can be impossible at times for a person, even one walking carefully, to recognize a pothole, and especially the size of it, due to the coloring. People also often fail to anticipate holes where people are commonly expected to walk.
Just like in a slip and fall accident, you will have to establish a negligence claim on the part of the business or landowner. You will have to show that they had a duty of care, that they breached this duty, and that the breach resulted in your accident and injuries. To prove this, the property owner must have actually known or ought to have known that there was a hazardous condition on the property in order to be held liable.
The majority of pothole accidents can be avoided if landowners take appropriate measures to maintain and repair their property. After all, a pothole is a condition that continues to get worse over a period of time. A visitor who is shopping at a location for the first time is not going to be expected to have the same awareness of the condition of the parking lot as the business owner who comes to the store every day.
In addition, a landowner should schedule reasonable inspections to ensure the property is in good, safe condition. Knowing when a pothole has begun is important because the landowner can then take the steps to fix the issue, rather than attempting to place the blame on the person who fell due to the landowner’s negligence.
What to do After an Accident Caused by a Pothole
After a pothole accident happens, it is important to gather as much evidence as possible. If you are able to do so, take pictures of the scene of the accident, as well as your injuries. You should also file an incident report with the owner of the business or landowner and ask for a copy of the report. If you are not able to do these things, ask a friend or family member to do them before the landowner or business owner is able to fix or fill the potholes.
When gathering evidence, be sure to take photos of nearby businesses, as well. They may have security cameras that were able to catch the accident on video. Any witnesses to the accident can also be valuable to your case, so try to get names and contact information from those who are willing to help you.
If you are not sure what the next steps would be, you need to sit down and talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer who can determine if you have enough grounds to move forward with a legal claim.
Contact an Experienced Thunder Bay Parking Lot Pothole Accident Lawyer Today
If you have been involved in an accident in a parking lot due to a pothole, you need to speak to an experienced lawyer as quickly as possible. There could be multiple entities, or a government agency involved, which could mean that additional investigations need to be done. The sooner you speak with your lawyer, the better. Contact the lawyers at Preszler Injury Lawyers today to schedule a consultation.