Who is liable for a parking lot slip and fall?

The weather is already turning cold and damp -- and it won't be long before ice and snow are on the ground. When that happens, you can be sure that one more thing is soon to follow: slip and fall accidents.

Who is responsible when you fall in a damaged or ice-covered parking lot and end up seriously injured? Is there any way you can recover for your losses if broken bones or a slipped disc in your back puts you out of work for months on end after a fall? Or is it just your bad luck, leaving you to cope with your injuries -- and your financial losses -- on your own?

There's no one automatic answer to these questions -- which is why it's best to talk to a personal injury attorney about your situation. An attorney will ask you a number of questions to determine if the owner of the lot or another party could in some way be liable.

Some of the factors that have to be considered in a slip and fall include:

What caused your fall?

Could your fall have been prevented? Who could have prevented it?

If you slipped because you were wearing footwear that wasn't appropriate for the weather, it would be difficult to hold someone else responsible for your fall. On the other hand, if the parking lot was covered in black ice or littered with cracks and potholes due to poor maintenance, there's a good possibility that the company responsible for the lot could be held liable for your injuries.

Other issues that could cause a store or parking lot owner to be liable for your fall include inadequate or missing lighting at night, standing water and uneven curbs.

Who is in charge of the parking lot?

You also have to determine who has responsibility for the maintenance of the lot. Was the lot maintained by a private business? Is it shared by several businesses? Is it a public lot that is maintained by the city? Identifying the person responsible for maintaining the premises is part of the attorney's job when you pursue a claim for damages.

Slip and fall cases are actually a lot more complicated than most people realize -- but an attorney will help you understand all the issues that have to be addressed.

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