It’s winter in New York, which means that black ice is a fixture in most parking lots. This thin, translucent ice is much harder to see, and much slicker, than white ice.
Furthermore, many property owners do not inspect parking lots very often, even though they have a legal responsibility to do so. Therefore, there is a high potential for serious injury.
Severe broken bones, such as broken hips and legs, are the most common injuries in these situations.
These injuries often permanently impair mobility. Other wounds include internal bleeding and head injuries.
Due to the seriousness of these injuries, and the often callous attitude of property owners, a New York personal injury attorney can often obtain substantial compensation for these victims.
This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Establishing Driver Negligence
The victim/plaintiff has the burden of proof in a car accident claim.
This burden of proof is only a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. That’s the lowest burden of proof in New York. So, a little evidence goes a long way.
Evidence in these claims includes the temperature at the time, previous ice-related or other accidents in that parking lot, any erratic driving prior to the crash, and reports of icy patches.
As for liability, ice-related crashes usually combine excessive speed and failure to watch.
If there are icy patches in a parking lot, any speed above about 10mph is probably excessive under the circumstances.
Furthermore, as mentioned, black ice is very hard to see, especially at night. This fact does not excuse negligence. In fact, the opposite is true.
The difficulty of spotting ice means that drivers have a legal duty to be more careful.
Driver impairment could be a factor as well.
That’s particularly true if the tortfeasor (negligent actor) is departing from a bar, private club, or other establishment which serves alcohol.
Alcohol impairment also raises the possibility of third party liability.
The establishment which provided the alcohol could be financially responsible for damages if the consumer was underage or visibly intoxicated at the time of sale.
Parking Lot Hit and Runs
Although they usually do not cause serious personal injuries, parking lot hit and runs are bad news. Dents and dings significantly lower your vehicle’s value. Plus, they just look unsightly.
Most drivers have uninsured motorist insurance which covers losses like these.
If you need help filing the paperwork, the insurance company denies coverage, or the insurance company tries to raise your rates, speak to an attorney straightaway.
Alternatively, some of these victims might be able to file claims in justice court against the property owner.
Justice court is basically like Judge Judy without the cameras. A lawyer can help you get started and also represent you if necessary. But it’s usually best to represent yourself in justice court claims.
Parking Lot Slip and Fall Injuries
Most people sustain serious injuries in slip and fall accidents, so these cases are well above justice court’s jurisdictional limits.
Furthermore, the property owner usually has a posse of
lawyers. So, you need legal representation in these situations.
In terms of liability, the property owner is usually responsible for parking lot slip and fall injuries if the owner had a legal duty and the owner knew, or should have known, about the hazard.
The legal duty in these cases usually hinges on the relationship between the victim and owner.
Most slip-and-fall victims are invitees.
These individuals have permission to be on the property and benefit the owner in some way. That benefit could be economic or noneconomic.
Since the relationship is rather close, most owners have a duty of reasonable care. This duty requires them to keep the parking lot free from black ice patches and other fall hazards.
A warning sign is usually insufficient.
Such warning signs are often enough if the victim was a licensee.
These individuals have permission to be on the land, but there is no benefit. Children cutting across a parking lot after school are licensees.
A few victims are trespassers. These people have no permission to be on the land, and there is no benefit.
Evidence of knowledge could be direct or circumstantial.
Direct evidence of actual knowledge includes things like prior reports of icy patches. Circumstantial evidence of constructive knowledge (should have known) might be the day’s weather forecast.
Parking lot accidents often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced New York personal injury lawyer, contact Napoli Shkolnik, PLLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.