It’s no secret that Americans love their cars and as towns and cities have grown, the number of available parking spaces quickly diminishes. In response to a demand for easy parking solutions, the number of parking garages throughout the country has risen dramatically.
Just like any other property, under New York law, the owners and managers of parking garages are responsible for making sure that the property is safe for anyone who may visit, which for a garage, could potentially mean hundreds of people every single day. If they fail to maintain a safe environment, they may face a lawsuit by anyone who sustains an injury as a result.
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While traveling for work a 32-year-old woman pulled into a parking garage. Everything appeared normal but as she crossed the concrete on the way to a meeting her foot became caught in a hole where the concrete had broken. She was unable to maintain her balance and fell, landing on the hard surface. She hit the concrete with her right hip and her right knee. Although she experienced pain, she pushed through the pain and continued to work the rest of the day. However, by the end of the day she was in extreme pain.
After visiting her doctor she was sent to see an orthopedic surgeon who determined she had a tear to the labrum, which is a ring of cartilage which surround the hip socket. The labrum supports the hip joint and allows it to sit securely in the socket. When torn, it can cause extreme pain, limit the patient’s range of motion, and may ultimately result in arthritis or the need for a total hip replacement.
Initially, doctors attempted to treat the saleswoman’s torn labrum with epidural injections and physical therapy but over time, her pain became worse, not better. She underwent an arthroscopic surgery and then required additional physical therapy. It is likely that she will require a total hip replacement in the future.
She chose to file a lawsuit against the company which owned and managed the parking garage, claiming in her complaint that they had failed to repair the broken concrete in a timely manner and had also failed to warn visitors about the hazard. She further alleged that when the property was purchased, the defendant had been made aware of numerous holes throughout the garage which needed to be repaired.
The defendants responded by saying that the hole was an obvious danger and that it was the plaintiff’s fault for failing to avoid it.
The two parties were able to reach a settlement prior to trial for $675,000.
Sadly this case is not unusual. Each year, hundreds of people are hurt in parking garages for a variety of reasons, the common common of which include:
Any of these hazards could result in an accident or physical attack on a visitor, putting their health and life at risk.
Under premises liability laws in New York, the owners and managers of a property owe a duty to anyone who visits their land and structures, a duty to keep them reasonably safe from harm. This means that regular inspections of the property should be made to detect any issues and if an issue is found, it should be fixed or, have warning signs placed around it until a repair can be made.
While this might sound simple enough, proving that a defendant didn’t take reasonable steps to ensure safety for visitors can be a difficult thing to prove. In order to do so, the plaintiff needs to show that they knew, or should have known about the hazard which resulted in physical harm. For many, the required proof can only be obtained with the assistance of an attorney.
With the number of vehicles in a parking garage and typically 24-hour access to anyone who wants to walk through, parking garages are often the location of robberies and rapes. It’s easy for an attacker to hide around the corner of a car or sneak up on someone getting into their vehicle.
Just recently, a man attempted to rob and rape a 61-year-old woman in a parking garage. When she opened her car door, he attacked her from behind, pushed her into the vehicle, and attempted to rape her. Although he was not successful in that regard, he did cause her serious emotional and physical pain, bruising her and breaking a finger.
The owners of parking garages, knowing that their structures may be considered as access to an easy target should take the steps necessary to prevent such crimes from happening. This may include additional lighting, mirrors so that patrons can see around the corners of stairwells, security cameras, and even security guards.