Who is Responsible If You Are Injured in a Slip and Fall in a parking lot?

You are walking from your car towards a grocery store in Broward County located in a large shopping center when you slip in a gigantic hole in the parking lot. Your foot gets caught, twisting it to the side, and you hear something snap. You immediately fall to the ground in anguish and feel like you are going to black out because the pain is so bad. The hole was so large that it must have been there for some time, and it was located right next to a drop-off spot for shopping carts, but when your spouse runs into the nearby grocery store to ask them to call an ambulance and he asks about the hole, they instantly clam up and claim to know nothing about it. A store manager comes out and tries to interview you and get you to sign some documents while you are still sitting on the ground in agonizing pain before the ambulance takes you away, but your husband asks her to leave you alone and you are taken by ambulance to the hospital, where your ankle is surgically repaired. After a week in the hospital and several months of physical therapy, you can walk again, but your medical bills as a result of the slip and fall incident are in the tens of thousands.

When you later return to the scene of the incident to take photos of and get more information about the hole, you find that it is no longer there. Instead, it has been patched up and that entire section of the parking lot has been repaved. When you ask someone from the grocery store when it was fixed, they clam up yet again, but ask to discuss the incident with you again and have you fill out some paperwork. They explain that their insurer is making them do it just to prove it was not their fault, which they keep trying to get you to say. This gets you to thinking: who was responsible for the hole being there in the first place? Who dropped the ball on having such an obvious hazard fixed?

Whose fault was it that the hole in a slip and fall accident was there?

Like many issues in Florida personal injury cases, this is a complicated question. The answer to this question depends entirely on where the hole was located and who has the responsibility for maintaining the portion (or the entirety) of the parking lot in which you fell. If it was in a private parking lot, which it likely was given this was a shopping center, then it will normally be whomever was responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the parking lot in which the hole was located. In many cases, this will be determined by the lease that the grocery store may have with the shopping center’s owner. In most instances, the lease will require the owner to maintain the shopping center’s common areas like the parking lot, the sidewalks between stores and around the shopping center, etc.

Nevertheless, this does not mean that the shopping center owner is the only party that you could pursue for compensation for your injuries. This could particularly be an issue where the shopping center may be owned by a corporate entity whose only asset is that shopping center, which is very common in the real estate business, and that corporate entity may have limited liability insurance. In that case, just like in any personal injury case, you want to cast a net as wide as possible to ensnare as many potential parties (and their insurance carriers) as possible. For example, there may be a property management firm with whom the shopping center owner has contracted to ensure that security, maintenance and the other day to day aspects of running and maintaining the property are taken care of that you could also look to as potentially being responsible. In turn, the property management company may also have contracted with a maintenance vendor to monitor the parking lots and other common areas in the shopping center to fix any hazards that came up, like the hole. These could all be potential targets for you to seek compensation from.

Lastly, the grocery store could also be a potential defendant and on the hook for your injuries if they knew about the hole (particularly given it was located right next to one of their shopping cart corrals) and they never did anything about it. From the reactions of the grocery store employees to both you and your husband, it sure seems like they knew about it, yet never did anything to either get the property owner or its property manager to fix it or even fix it themselves. 

Contact Schwed Adams & McGinley

At Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A., our experienced personal injury attorneys have more than 150 years of combined legal practice representing victims of slip and fall incidents, motor vehicle accidents, and other personal injury scenarios in Florida. Whether it happened on public or private property, outdoors or indoors, or in a private or public place, we have represented hundreds, if not thousands, of slip and fall victims. Therefore, if you, a family member, or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall or any other situation caused by someone else’s negligence in Florida, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A today at 877-694-6079 or contact@schwedlawfirm.com for a free consultation