Many different types of walking surfaces may cause an accident. In Florida, a person may have a case if he or she tripped over a dangerous wheel stop in a parking lot.
This article applies regardless of the type of parking lot within which the victim fell.
So it applies to parking lots at Florida supermarkets, big box stores, shopping malls, hotels, motels, resorts and much more.
Tripping on a wheel stop and falling
In Florida, tripping on a wheel stop in a parking lot may cause someone’s injury. In Florida, a property owner has a duty to maintain its premises in a reasonably safe manner for its invitees. There is no duty to warn against an open and obvious condition, which is not inherently dangerous. Aaron v. Palatka Mall, L.L.C., 908 So.2d 574, 576–77 (Fla. 5th DCA 2005).
Good facts for the injured victim in a Florida wheel stop accident case.
In Florida, these facts may make a case easier if a customer trips on a wheel stop and is hurt. They do not guarantee that the hurt victim will get a settlement. However, they do help the injured person’s chances of receiving a payout.
- Wheel stop is located in a fire lane next to the sidewalk. Bryant v. Lucky Stores, Inc., 577 So.2d 1347 (Fla. 2d DCA 1990).
- Wheel stop is not centered between the parking stripes. Ricciardelli v. Fla. Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass’n, 564 So.2d 620 (Fla. 4th DCA 1990)
- Accident occurred on a rainy night with insufficient lighting to illuminate the parking bumpers. Palatka Mall, L.L.C., 908 So.2d 574, 576–77 (Fla. 5th DCA 2005).
- The wheel stop is not easily observable to patrons using their own senses. Krol v. City of Orlando, 778 So.2d 490, 493 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001).
- The victim’s expert, a professional engineer, says that the wheel stop violated a law, code, regulation, or recognized industry safety standard.
Bad facts for the victim in a Florida wheel stop accident case.
The following facts make the injured person’s case difficult or impossible to win:
- The accessible parking spaces meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA Standards for Accessible Design).
- The accessible parking spaces meet the Florida Building Code and the County Code (e.g. Escambia County Land Development Code).
- Wheel stop over which the victim tripped was not concealed, but instead was an open and obvious condition.
- Wheel stop placed in the center of a parking space and clearly visible.
- The accident occurred on a clear and sunny day.
- Wheel stop was located at the top of the parking space. It was centered within the parking stripes.
- Bright yellow concrete bollard holding the accessibility sign was located above the wheel stop in the parking space. It was centered on the wheel stop.
- No evidence that the wheel stop or the concrete bollard were not properly maintained or suffered from design defects.
- The injured person admits that at the time of the accident he or she was not looking where he or she was walking.
- The victim was looking at the accessibility sign when he or she tripped over the wheel stop and fell.
A property owner or occupier is not an insurer of his customers’ safety. Rather, the property owner or occupier owes his customers only a duty to protect against those risks that are reasonably foreseeable. See Westchester Exxon v. Valdes, 524 So.2d 452, 455 (Fla. 3d DCA 1988).
A property owner is not automatically liable just because a customer falls on its property. Just because the injured person did not see the wheel stop does not make it a dangerous condition. Simply because a victim did not see the wheel stop does not mean that is was not open and obvious.
The ADA Standards for Accessible Design depict the use of wheel stops in accessible parking spaces. Much of the above wheel stop case information is from Ramsey v. Home Depot USA, Inc., 124 So. 3d 415 – Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 1st Dist. 2013.
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This article is up to date since it was published on October 2015.