Visitor Question

Owner Liability for Parking Lot Storm Drain Slip and Fall?

Submitted By: Colleen (Alexandria, Virginia)

Last week in Alexandria, VA, I stepped into a curbside storm drain in a parking lot, fell and fractured my foot. The curb was on a small concrete island in the parking lot, and parallel to my car; there are no lights in the parking lot area, and the drain was pretty much invisible.

I went to the doctor the following day and was told to not put any weight on my foot for 6 weeks.

In just the last week, I’ve spent about $500 on copays, medical equipment, and mobility aids. It’s also causing a lot of fuss at my job because I have a work trip coming up, and will need accommodations for the flights and hotel stay.

Because the parking lot was for a small strip mall, I’m still working on tracking down the owner to send a formal notice of injury. I did send an immediate email to the pizza place I was in that night to notify them that I’d been injured.

Today when I visited them to try and get more info about the building owner, the workers told me that many people have fallen in the parking lot, and in particular gotten stuck in that same storm drain.

Right now, my biggest question is whether there are particular safety standards for parking lots that may have been violated; for instance, should it have been marked somehow, should there have been a grated cover to level it with the parking lot, should there have been lights in the parking lot. I’m having some trouble finding this information, though.

Where should I go looking? And are there other considerations I should think about? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Colleen,

While Alexandria may have local ordinances that impose specific safety standards for parking lots, lot owners generally have to provide a reasonably safe environment to their customers. Owners have to periodically inspect their property and remove any dangerous conditions that they’re aware of.

Liability for Parking Lot Owners

Property owners have a legal duty of care to keep their premises reasonably safe.

This duty means they are obligated to conduct business as a reasonable parking lot owner would, and perform such tasks as making periodic inspections, making timely repairs, and anticipating common hazards, like snow or ice.

Further, if a parking lot owner is aware of a dangerous condition on their property, the owner must remedy it to make the lot safe for parking lot customers.

When the parking lot owner knows or should know about a problem and fails to fix it, the owner is negligent. Negligent parties have to compensate injured victims for their losses, including medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Here, there are indications to suggest the parking lot owner was negligent. For example, the area was dimly lit, the drain was not marked, and the drain was not level with the parking lot.  All of these pose risks to a customer’s safety.

If the lot owner was aware of these conditions, then it should have reconciled them. There might be a good argument that the owner was aware of them since the pizza employee stated that many people have fallen in the lot. Property owners usually know if several people have been injured on their land.

Your personal notes should reflect the name of the employee and the date they made the admission about other customers falling.

Contact a Local Attorney for Help

The City of Alexandria imposes many rules and regulations on commercial property owners, including stormwater management. You might want to consider meeting with a local attorney to see if any apply to your case.

If you can prove the owner was negligent, then you can recover all of your medical expenses, including the costs for copays, medical equipment, mobility aids, and travel accommodations. Plus, you should get an additional amount for your pain and suffering.

Keep in mind that the Commonwealth of Virginia has a two year statute of limitations for personal injury claims.

A local personal injury lawyer may already know who owns the parking lot, or can run a title search to find out.

Learn more here: Injuries in Parking Lots and Garages

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,

Published:

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