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(Please Contact Us If You Need Assistance With Your Parking Lot Safety Questions)

Size of the Problem

Roughly 80% of the criminal acts at shopping centers, strip malls and business offices occur in the parking lot. Therefore, some lawyers find no shortage of premises liability cases based on the fact that the owner or management did not provide adequate security measures to deter criminal activity. Another liability, or risk, is slip and fall.

Since most lawsuits revolve around lack of sufficient lighting, layout and response, anyone in business should be careful to ensure that they are taking "reasonable care" in their efforts to provide for the protection of employees, invitees and guests against foreseeable criminal threats.

Criminal Activity

Frequently, a business owner is not fully aware of the crimes that have occurred on or near their property. Not knowing about criminal activity may not be a viable defense in a tort case, especially if it is found that you should have known about it, or even worse, that you turned a blind eye to it.

All too often it is easier for business owners to ignore crime problems because they feel it will be too difficult or impossible to break the crime trend. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to improve security, deter crime, reduce potential liability and make your customers feel safer.

Keep in mind; in places where parking lot security measures have been implemented, customer use has actually increased because they feel safer. Generally, increased customer use means increased profits. This fact can be used to justify the increased cost related to any security improvements. These enhancements should be viewed as an investment, not an expense. A decrease in customer use will definitely translate into decreased profits. These are a few areas evaluated in a thorough risk assessment.

Design of the Property

Each parking lot presents its own particular problems based on physical layout, terrain, atmospheric conditions, and security requirements. Therefore, all aspects of lighting cannot be covered here. Generally speaking, the goal is to direct consistent illumination throughout the transitional areas so as to provide good visibility with a minimum of glare.

The layout of a parking lot can sometimes provide an advantage for natural surveillance. Parking lots are generally public space so it can be difficult to control access to the property. In some cases, rerouting incoming and outgoing traffic through the parking lot to pass by the more remote areas will increase natural surveillance and the opportunity for crime is reduced.

It is not uncommon in high crime or remote areas to see emergency call stations strategically placed so they can be used to alert others of an emergency situation. These call stations frequently provide immediate voice contact with a guardian, an audible alarm and a type of flashing light to attract attention to a trouble spot.

While such measures may not be necessary in every application, there are other strategies that are considered essential for appropriate detection and response regarding criminal activity. For example, windows should be kept clear of banners, posters or any obstructions which would preclude persons on the inside of the building from seeing out into the parking lots.

Windows that are free from obstructions will also allow those on the outside to detect criminal activity on the inside, such as in the case of an armed robbery in progress. This will give the opportunity for observers to notify police, and may prevent them from walking into a potentially fatal environment. It may also prevent an armed robbery and murder altogether.

Risk Management

Risk Management is the implementation of these precautions and other recommendations made during a thorough risk analysis of your property. We at Risk Assessment Services, L.L.C. can show you how security improvements are justifiable and can be cost effective.

Risk Assessment

A thorough risk assessment will identify the types of risks and potential losses. More valuable than your personal property is the well-being of your most valuable assets -- your customers and employees. How much value does your company place on them?

They can tell every time they drive into your parking lot. If there are safer parking lots to park in, or safer businesses to work for, your customers and employees may go there instead. 

"Slip and Fall"

Definition

"Slip and Fall" is a term for personal injuries that are caused when a person slips and falls on a floor, sidewalk, parking lot, or other surface. Just because a person is injured doesn't necessarily mean they will be compensated. Proving these cases can be a challenge.

Causes

An uneven floor, poor lighting, a slippery floor surface or an unseen danger, such as a hole covered up by a rug, may cause a "slip and fall" accident. Circumstances surrounding a "slip and fall" accident are important when determining who may be legally responsible for any injuries.

Responsibility (Duty of Care)

As a broad general rule, if you are the owner of a parking lot, or other premises, you may be responsible for injuries resulting from a slip and fall on the premises. An occupier of the premises, such as a storeowner who leases a store, may also be liable for injuries if the occupier has control over the premises in which the injury occurred.

Guests/Invitees

If you are an invited guest on a property, the owner or the occupier who invites you has the responsibility (a duty of care) to keep the premises safe, and to warn you if there is any dangerous condition that might cause you harm. However, if you are working on the premises for a business purpose, the owner or occupier may owe you a higher duty of care.

Employees

State Workers Compensation laws usually govern lawsuits brought by employees against employers. under these "workers comp" laws, employers are held strictly liable for injuries suffered by employees. In return for this strict liability, the workers compensation statute limits the amount of damages that an employee can recover. See employment law: workers compensation.

Trespassers

The "Standard of Care" that a property owner owes to a trespasser is usually less than the Standard of Care that is owed to a person who has permission to be on the property, except in the case of children. The law recognizes that children may not recognize potential dangers in the same way that adults do, and this requires adults to take greater care to protect against harm to children.

Claims against the government

"Slip and Fall" lawsuits against the federal government are usually covered by the Federal Tort Claims Act and "slip and fall" lawsuits against state and local governments are covered by similar state "tort claims acts." Often these statutes require lawsuits to be brought within a very short period of time, and only after a written notice of the injury has been given to the government.

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