I Fell in a Parking Lot: Do I Have a Case?
Cars are not the only danger people face in parking lots. Some parking lots have clearly gone to
seed and might have pot holes, cracks, and uneven pavement that make them dangerous to walk
At our firm, we represent visitors injured on someone else’s property. In certain situations, you
might be able to bring a premises liability claim against a store or other business whose parking
lot is dangerous.
The Duty Landlords Owe Visitors
North Carolina law generally requires that landlords fix any dangerous condition that they create
or become aware of through reasonable inspection. If a business owns a parking lot, it should
periodically check the parking lot for hazards, such as pot holes or uneven pavement that could be dangerous. A landowner cannot put their head in the sand and claim ignorance. However, the law does not state exactly how often a business owner needs to check the property, either. Land lords should remedy any dangerous conditions that they are aware of, or, at a minimum, warn visitors of the dangerous condition. For example, a landlord could put up sawhorses around a large hole in the ground, which should keep visitors from tripping and falling, especially if the
landlord cannot quickly fill in the hole.
Generally, landowners owe no duty to warn about dangerous conditions that are as obvious to a
pedestrian as they are to the business owner. For example, you might encounter snow or ice in
the parking lot in winter. Since this is not a hidden condition, the landlord probably does not
need to warn you about it.
What to do After a Fall
The key to a trip and fall or slip and fall case is to fully document the dangerous condition. You
do not want the landlord to quickly fix it or put up a warning sign if none existed when you fell
and were injured.
If possible, take a picture of the area with your smart phone immediately following your injury.
Also identify anyone who saw you fall and can testify about what happened. Get their names and
contact information, at a minimum.
You also need to identify the correct party to sue. Some businesses own their parking lots, but
others do not. If you fall in a mall parking lot, then the mall itself probably owns the parking lot
instead of the tenant/store that you visited. You can often find the name of the parking lot owner
posted in the parking lot on a plaque or sign. Otherwise, you will need to investigate once you
hire an attorney to represent you.
Trips and falls present unique fact patterns that require an experienced attorney to analyze. If you
have fallen and suffered an injury, you should meet with an attorney as quickly as possibleIf you would like to talk about your case, please call Hodges Coxe & Potter at 910-772-1678 to
schedule a free, no-risk consultation.