Since 2019, following Parker v. Shelmar Property Owners Assn. District Court of Appeal Case. No.5D18-2105, there is legal precedent regarding when an injury victim can take legal action after tripping over a parking lot bumper.
Also known as “wheel stops”, parking bumpers, parking curb, or parking blocks, they usually sit at the front of a parking space. They serve a very important purpose – to prevent cars from rolling forward once in a parking spot.
By Florida law, they are required to be a different color than the surface they sit on. They must also be placed in accordance with Florida’s building codes. Failure to do so is considered negligence.
While parking bumpers are designed to be visible to drivers, there’s a glaring issue that parking bumpers serve when it comes to pedestrians. They are usually placed in heavy foot traffic areas, making pedestrians especially likely to trip and fall over them while walking in parking lots. As you’ll see below, the numbers confirm that countless parking bumper trips and fall accidents occur every year.
Read on to learn more about parking lot trips and fall injuries and why you might need legal help after getting injured.
What Type of Legal Case Is a Parking Lot Trip and Fall Accident?
When a person trips and falls in concrete, they could potentially sustain severe injuries. If the injury victim can prove that the business owner or parking lot owner’s negligence caused them to trip and fall, they would have a premises liability case(link to tampa law premises liability page). If they are found negligent, they may be legally responsible for paying you compensatory damages.
Case Review: Parker V. Shelmar Property Owners Association, Inc.
In the case of Parker v. Shelmar Property Owners Assn., 5th District Court of Appeal Case. No.5D18-2105 the appellate court ruled in favor of a woman who tripped over a parking bumper in a business parking lot in Oviedo, Florida. The Plaintiff, Sherrye Parker, filed a lawsuit on the grounds that the parking bumper was placed in an unsafe manner for customers. Her attorneys argued that the business owner had a duty to maintain reasonably safe premises for visiting customers, but failed to do so. She claimed that the owner “violated Chapter 10, Section 1002.1 of the Florida Building Code” by placing their parking bumper in the pathways of the building’s entry and exit walkway. Her claim was supported by an affidavit from a forensic examiner who confirmed that the parking bumpers did not follow Florida’s building regulations and violated Standard Practice for Safe Walking Surfaces.
However, before the scheduled hearing, the court dismissed the case and granted a summary judgment in favor of the defendant. This means the defendant’s legal counsel asked for the courts to dismiss the case, and they did. But the plaintiff’s request for a rehearing was denied, after which she appealed the court’s decision.
The defense’s argument was based on the open and obvious danger doctrine, but the court ruled that this doesn’t dismiss the property owner’s duty to keep the premises safe. Since the plaintiff had an expert forensic engineer confirm that the placement of the wheelstop created a dangerous condition that violated Florida safety codes, the court took this as prima facie evidence of negligence.
This court verdict has become the legal precedence for many people who have been injured in trip and fall parking lot accidents involving parking bumpers. As long as there is some violation of a building code or safety standard, the injury victim will have valid grounds to take legal action against the property owner. However sometimes it’s not exactly clear if there was any violation or negligence on the owner’s part.
This is when you can benefit tremendously from hiring a knowledge about premises liability attorneys. They know exactly which experts to hire to investigate the case and analyze the circumstances in depth. These facts are crucial to establish the property owner, business, landlord, or other other responsible party’s negligence, if there was any.
Our law firm has previously handled a parking lot trip and fall case representing a client who was injured while taking the trash out in his apartment complex. It was found that the apartment complex was doing construction work and negligently left parking bumpers in the grass, which obscured the bumpers. Our client tripped and fell over the inconspicuous parking bumpers in the grass and sustained severe injuries. We were able to make a claim on his behalf and win him 1.2 million dollars, which at the time was the highest verdict ever reported for a trip and fall accident in Tampa.
Trip and Fall Accident Statistics
Falling is one of the leading causes of accidental death and injuries in the US, after car accidents, accidental poisoning, drowning. Here are some facts about trip and fall accidents from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Safety Council:
- More than 8 million people visit the ER every year for slip or trip and fall injuries
- Fall injuries are the top cause of ER visits, accounting for nearly 22% of all visits
- Half of all accidental deaths are caused by falls on the floor
- Older people over the age of 65 are at higher risk for falling, but a trip and fall can happen to almost anyone
- Fall injuries cost the US about $13-$14 million in medical treatment every year
Fall Accidents Can Happen in Many Different Places
A trip or slip and fall accident can happen anywhere there is a hazard, slippery surface, uneven pavement or ground, or any other hazard for pedestrians. Most fall accidents occur in:
- The workplace
- Grocery stores
- Parking lots
- Retail stores
- On sidewalks
- And in shopping malls
Why Are Trip and Fall Accidents So Common in Parking Lots?
Parking lot trip and fall accidents are especially common for several reasons. For starters, there is a lot of foot traffic there. So with more people walking around, there’s a higher likelihood of tripping. Parking lots are supposed to be well-maintained and designed for pedestrian safety just as much as they are for driver safety. But unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
Here are some factors that make parking lots problematic sites for trip and fall accidents.
- Uneven Pavement
- Shopping Carts
- Debris and waste or other objects that people can trip over
- Bad weather conditions
- Poor lighting
- Poor design for pedestrians
- Inadequate space for walking
- Blind turns and sharp corners where pedestrian can easily get hit
- Parking bumpers placed in dangerous locations
- Lack of designated walkways for pedestrians
- Unreasonably high speed limits
- Parking spaces that force pedestrians to walk across dangerous roads or areas
What Injuries Result From Parking Lot Trip and Fall Accidents?
Falling in a parking lot often results in serious injuries and can be much more painful than falling on other floors. The hard, bumpy concrete can cause substantial bodily injury. Some of the most common types of injured people suffer in parking lot trip and fall accidents are:
- Soft tissue injuries
- Broken bones
- Bruising, scarpes, and cuts
- Head injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Spinal cord injuries
What Should You Do After a Parking Lot Trip and Fall Accident?
Trip and fall accidents happen too often. The best thing you can do to protect your rights and any potential compensation for your injuries is contact a lawyer as soon as possible. A knowledgeable trip and fall lawyer will know how to deal with insurance companies and negotiate a fair settlement for you. When insurance companies see that you have legal representation, they won’t mess around and they’ll know you’re serious about getting what you deserve.
If there are no witnesses who can vouch for you about what happened, it will be tricky to find the right evidence to support your claim. Again, this is another way a skilled attorney can help you. They know how to dig deep to find the evidence you need to build a strong case. That could mean finding surveillance footage and hiring other experts to testify for you.
Tampa Trip and Fall Lawyers Who Can Help You Win the Maximum Compensation Possible
If you sustained serious injuries in a Tampa trip and fall accident, contact our legal team today. We’ll review your case details to find out exactly how we can help you. If you have valid grounds for a legal claim, we’ll get to work right away and start strategizing a plan tailored to your unique accident circumstances.
Trip and fall accidents are dangerous and happen too often. Sadly,most property owners have no idea how dangerous parking bumpers are for pedestrians in the parking lot. While it’s unfortunate, someone needs to be held accountable for your unwarranted injuries.
We already know what tactics the insurance company will use to minimize liability and what arguments the defense will make. Whatever comes up, we have the experience and expertise to win your case and only take a fee if we win your case.
Call us today for a free initial case review.