liability parking lot

Most of us use parking lots every day as part of our daily routine of driving and commuting, without giving them much thought. While it is not a cause of much concern or immediately obvious, there are several ways a person might sustain injuries in a parking lot.

Defective or insufficient lighting and security in a parking lot can often lead to accidents that cause injuries and damages to innocent victims. An under-construction parking area, with slippery surfaces and other hazards, can result in slip and fall accidents leading to injuries. Or a negligent driver may hit your vehicle while backing out of their spot.   

If you or someone you know is the victim of a parking lot accident in New York City, you must seek legal counsel and consider the legal options to claim compensation for your injuries. 

Hazards in NYC Parking Lots

Parking lots in New York are full of pedestrians, shopping carts, and vehicles moving in all directions. Often, pedestrians and motorists may be preoccupied and distracted by several things like stressful tasks, boisterous children, or even cell phones. Any of these distractions may result in an unfortunate accident. 

Sometimes, accidents involving stationary vehicles can even result in fatalities. According to an Insurance Information Institute (III) report, parked vehicles were involved in 1.2% of all fatal car accidents. Some typical parking lot accidents may include:

  • Head-on crashes
  • Rear-end crashes
  • Sideswipe – where a car accidentally backs into another car
  • Swinging wide while pulling into an empty space in the parking lot
  • Not staying in one’s own lane
  • Collisions involving pedestrians
  • Collisions involving bicyclists
  • Road rage incidents
  • Hit and run accidents

How Are Parking Lot Owners Responsible?

Apart from ensuring compliances of all safety standards applicable to a parking lot operation, the parking lot owners also need to carry out timely inspections of the car parks. They must take adequate steps to warn the users about any hazards found during a routine inspection or arrange to repair such hazards.

In certain cases, the parking lot owner can be held fully or partially liable for injuries and damages suffered by a motorist or pedestrian, if an accident occurs in the parking lot owned by them. 

How Are Motor Vehicle Drivers Responsible?

These are some of the many acts of negligence by motor vehicle drivers that have the potential to cause injuries and damages in a parking lot accident in New York City:

  • Speeding excessively while driving through a parking lot
  • Driving while distracted by cell phone, navigation system, or on-board entertainment in the vehicle
  • Disregarding signs and traffic signals present inside the parking lot
  • Not allowing the right-of-way to pedestrians at crosswalks present throughout the parking lot
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Driving at far greater speeds than are conducive for the prevalent traffic or weather conditions that exist inside the parking lot

Who Is Liable in an NYC Parking Lot Accident?

The individuals, entities, or multiple parties responsible for a parking lot accident in New York may include:

Motor Vehicle Drivers

All drivers share the responsibility of ensuring other users’ safety in a parking lot by following the rules and being always aware of the surrounding environment.  


Passengers also must share the responsibility of keeping other occupants safe in the car. Their negligence in diverting the vehicle driver’s attention, intentionally or otherwise, might sometimes lead to an accident.


Negligent behavior by distracted pedestrians, such as suddenly stepping out into the path of an oncoming car, can cause a collision resulting in injuries and damages. Pedestrians must carry out their duty of care towards others by following the signs and rules inside a parking lot, failing which they may be legally liable for parking lot accidents.

Parking Lot Owners

The premises liability laws in New York clearly define the duties and responsibilities of parking lot owners in demarcating parking lanes and maintaining the parking lot according to the safety standards and specifications. The parking lot owners must make sure to repair all obstructions, hazards, or defective parking slots on time, or clearly mark them with warning signs. 

Third-Party Liability in a New York Parking Lot Accident

Most parking lots are on private property but that does not in any way absolve the parking lot operators, drivers, or pedestrians from their legal duties. An individual, entity, or multiple parties may be liable for personal injuries or damages if their negligence is the cause of a parking lot accident. Private car park owners have a legal obligation to take adequate precautions to maintain safe and secure conditions for drivers, pedestrians, and other car park users.

Mostly, the legal process after a New York parking lot accident is not much different than a motor vehicle accident anywhere else. The only exception is the subject of third-party liability. Highway accident victims usually find it difficult to hold road makers legally liable for any negligence resulting in unsafe road conditions.

Gather Relevant Information at the Accident Scene

The police response to a private parking lot accident may not be at par with their response to an accident on a public road. Mostly, there is no reassurance that there will be police response to a car park accident, except in rare circumstances where injuries or damage to the property are serious.

However, it is your responsibility to inform the police if there is an accident, and especially if you are the victim of the accident with resultant injuries. If there are no police at the scene of the accident, you may have to step up and gather all the accident-related evidence, to make up for the lack of the initial police report. As part of the important evidence-gathering exercise, you may need to gather information including:

  • The driver’s name
  • Vehicle owner’s name if it is different than the driver
  • Names of the passengers, if any
  • Make, model, and license plate number of the other motor vehicle
  • Insurance details, including policy number, company name, and the contact details
  • Pictures and if possible, the video surveillance tapes of the accident scene
  • Names and contact details of security personnel at the parking lot
  • Names and contact details of witnesses and bystanders at the accident scene

Once you and other people around you are relatively safe, you must visit a doctor to get an initial assessment of your injuries. As a next step, you must seek legal counsel and look to hire an experienced New York parking lot accident attorney to make sure that your legal rights are adequately protected. 

Safety Measures in Parking Lots When Dealing with Winter Weather

As a Pedestrian

Wear Appropriate Footwear

The main reason for slip and fall accidents in parking lots is snow and ice, combined with poor lighting. Flip-flops and sandals might work in nice weather, but you will require shoes with sufficient tread or snow boots with flat soles in the winter. A random slick spot from a frozen puddle could do you in.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Keep your complete focus on your surrounding environment by cutting out distractions like your cell phone and being aware of where you are walking and what is happening around you. Make sure to take defensive or evasive action vis-a-vis the motor vehicles in the parking lot.

Make clear eye contact with motorists before crossing their paths, as the drivers might have more than usual blind spots because of uncleared snow on their vehicles. 

As a Motorist

Drive with Caution

It is not just the pedestrians who are at risk in a parking lot. You must be careful while driving in an area where pedestrians and other motor vehicles surround you. Follow the designated lanes and signs for speed limits. Avoid unnecessary cutting across empty parking spaces.

Snowbanks during the winters can reduce visibility. Also, the uncleared snow on the vehicle increases blind spots. Clear as much ice and snow from the vehicle, adjust and clean the mirrors and focus on driving when pulling out of your parking spot. 

We Represent Clients Injured in Public & Private Parking Lots in New York

It is a well-known fact that pedestrians have minimum protection and are susceptible to accidents and injuries in parking lots. A pedestrian struck by a moving motor vehicle can easily fall to the ground and strike their head, arms, back, or any other body parts, resulting in severe injuries.

These pedestrian injuries may include serious traumatic brain injury, broken bones, fractures, soft tissue tears, paralysis, spinal cord injuries, and even fatality. If you or someone you live with has injuries from such falls or accidents in a private or public parking lot, the highly experienced and competent attorneys at Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, can protect your legal rights while fighting for full and fair compensation for you.

Our able and skillful New York City attorneys are known for their evidence-gathering skills, proficient negotiating skills, as well as solid advocacy in court. To schedule a free and confidential initial case evaluation or consultation or with a fine parking lot accident attorney, call Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP today at 212-344-1000 or contact us online for a free and confidential consultation.


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