Visitor Question

Struck pole in hotel parking lot not visible from driver’s seat?

Submitted By: Mark (Ventura, California)

I was parked in an underground parking lot at a hotel in Ventura, CA while a guest at the hotel. Upon checking out and leaving the Hotel Parking lot, I had to exit up a short steep ramp to get out of the lower level. Another car was entering the lower level which required both of us to stay to the right of our respective lane of travel.

At the top of the ramp, there were 2 small yellow poles in front of a wall that descended as the exit ramp ascended. The poles are no more that 18-24 inches tall, and not visible in the slightest from the driver’s seat. Furthermore, the parking area I had to exit into is not wide enough to safely accommodate cars to be parked on each side and still be able to pass another car going the opposite direction.

Because of this, I had to turn a bit sharper upon exiting the underground area than I would have otherwise. In doing this, I ended up hitting the unseen poles at the back of the rear passenger side door and it scraped/damaged approx 5 feet of my truck that encompassed the rear step bar, the rear passenger door, the panel that the door closes onto, and the lower portion of the truck bed up to the wheel well.

I contacted the Hotel Assistant Manager (only person of contact I was given when I reported the accident to the front counter). The Assistant Manager said they have no liability because the posts are painted high visibility yellow (not true, there is so much black tire residue from previous auto contact). The accident occurred during the daylight hours and there was no inclement weather.

My question is: What difference does any of their excuses mean if the posts, under ANY conditions, are not visible AND the layout of the exit and above ground parking area does not adequately allow for 2 vehicle to pass while exiting and entering the underground area? Does the Hotel ultimately need to accept responsibility for the poor design and both fix the posts for better height visual, as well as pay for my damages? 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 Mark,

It appears the assistant hotel manager has already taken the position the hotel is not responsible for the damages to your car. But that doesn’t have to be the end of the matter. Ask the assistant manager if he created an “Incident Report.” The Report should contain your statement about what occurred.  While the assistant manager is not required by law to give you a copy of the Report, it is still a good idea to request one.

Contact the hotel’s corporate office and ask to speak with the division handling personal injury and property damage matters. Report the incident as you described it here. They still may not accept liability, but instead may offer you a settlement. Be sure before contacting corporate you have several estimates for the repairs to your car.

It would also be beneficial to review California’s statutes on Commercial parking lot standards. If you can find a violation, it will greatly help your chances of receiving full compensation for your vehicle’s damages. You can find them here: California Code Section 17.62.050 Design standards

As a last-ditch effort, you may be able to file a small claims lawsuit to recover some of the cost of repairs. You can learn more about California small claims court here.

Learn more here: Parking Lot Accident Claims

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) 647-2490.

Best of luck with your claim,

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