17 Aug, 2022

Who Is Liable When a Pedestrian Accident Happens in a Mall Parking Lot?

Author Todd A. Strong
pedestrians walking on a pedestrian on a sunny day

Tens of thousands of accidents happen in parking lots every year, causing thousands of injuries and hundreds of fatalities. Those estimates are from the National Safety Council (NSC).

pedestrians walking on a pedestrian on a sunny day

If you or a loved one got injured in a mall parking lot, you might wonder, “who is liable when a pedestrian accident happens in a mall parking lot?” The liable party will depend on the specific details and circumstances of the accident. The car driver could be liable if the driver engaged in negligent or distracted driving when he or she hit you. 

The mall owner or a contracted maintenance or cleaning company could be liable if conditions outside the driver’s control caused the driver to hit you. For instance, the mall owner does not have a legal duty to remove snow or ice in a parking lot in Illinois. However, if mall employees or a snow removal company negligently created a hazardous condition when removing the snow or ice, and that condition causes an accident, the mall or the snow removal company can be held liable for injuries.

A manufacturer could also be legally responsible if defective equipment contributed to the accident.  

Are Stores Liable for Parking Lot Accidents?

Stores may be liable for parking lot accidents if their lease specifies parking lot maintenance and repair as their responsibility. In this case, you may hold the specific store owner responsible for your injuries if a hazardous condition existing in the parking lot caused your accident. 

A duty may arise if a store voluntarily creates a parking lot pedestrian crosswalk without having no prior responsibility. The store must construct a reasonably safe parking lot pedestrian crosswalk. You might have grounds for suing a store if a poorly made or designed parking lot pedestrian crosswalk caused your accident. 

Negligence must exist on the part of the store for you to hold it liable for your injuries. If you got injured in a mall parking lot accident caused by a distracted driver, liability would fall on the driver, not the store. 

Identifying a specific store as the liable party for your pedestrian accident is a challenging task. Involving a pedestrian accident lawyer who understands your state-specific personal injury laws can help determine who is legally at fault for your mall parking lot accident. The lawyer can also gather compelling evidence to prove your case and maximize compensation. 

What Are the Causes of Pedestrian Parking Lot Accidents?

Tens of thousands of accidents happen in parking lots every year, causing thousands of injuries and hundreds of fatalities. Those estimates are from the National Safety Council (NSC). The most common causes of pedestrian parking lot accidents include: 

Driver Distraction 

Distraction is one of the leading causes of crashes in parking lots. A 2016 public opinion survey conducted by NSC found that 66% of drivers across the nation make phone calls while entering or exiting parking lots. A significant percentage of the respondents admitted to programming GPS systems, texting, using social media, and taking pictures or watching videos while driving through parking lots. NSC also found that drivers and pedestrians were more prone to distractions during the busy holiday season. 

Driver Negligence 

Drivers may be negligent while entering or exiting parking lots. They may, for instance, intentionally disobey signs at the parking lot, including yield signs, stop signs, speed limits, turn signs, and pedestrian crosswalks. 

Some drivers fail to exercise reasonable caution when pulling out of a parking lot. They, for instance, do not inspect the parking spot for pedestrians before reversing. Such accidents usually injure or kill small children due to their small size, which might easily escape drivers' eyes. 

A False Sense of Security 

Pedestrians assume parking lots are safe because vehicles move at slower speeds. In reality, serious accidents can still happen even if a car is at a slower speed. For this reason, you should always remain alert and follow traffic laws, even in parking spaces. 

Poor Lighting

Pedestrian accidents are common in poorly lit parking lots. These accidents happen in parking lots of stores that remain open late into the night. 

Accidentally Stepping on the Wrong Pedal 

Some drivers hit a pedestrian when they step on the accelerator rather than the brake. Elderly drivers commonly cause these types of pedestrian accidents. 

Snow and Ice 

Snow or ice may contribute to a parking lot pedestrian accident. The snow or ice in the parking space may cause a car to slide and knock over a pedestrian. This is especially true if the driver pushes down the brake pedal in an icy or snowy parking lot. 

Poorly Designed Parking Lot 

Poorly designed parking lots do not guarantee the safe passage of both vehicles and pedestrians. Uncertain or dangerous traffic circulation routes, extremely narrow or incorrectly angled spots, and poorly installed crosswalks are some features of a poorly designed parking lot. The absence of speed bumps, inadequate or dangerously placed spots for people with disabilities, and confusing signage are other characteristics of poorly designed parking lots. 

Pedestrian Parking Lot Accident Injuries

Spinal Cord Injury 

A pediatric cervical spine study published in RSNA journal in 2003 found that C-spine dislocations were the most common injuries sustained by child pedestrians. Adult pedestrians may also suffer spinal cord injury in a pedestrian parking lot accident.

A spinal cord injury can cause temporary or permanent disability, depending on its severity. The victim may require ongoing medical care, physical therapy, assistive devices like wheelchairs and crutches, and house and car modifications. 

You should pursue compensation from the liable party if you suffered spinal cord damage in a pedestrian parking lot accident. The compensation you obtain will enable you to cover the medical expenses (current and future), lost wages, and other costs arising from your injury. Seeking medical assistance soon after the accident and working with a knowledgeable lawyer can increase your chances of winning a personal injury lawsuit

Head and Brain Injuries 

Head and brain injuries are other frequently occurring pedestrian accident injuries. Just like spinal cord injuries, these injuries might attract costly ongoing medical care and other accident-related expenses. You might need to initiate a personal injury claim to recover compensation for covering these expenses. 

The impact may cause your brain to strike against the inside of your skull, resulting in a serious head or brain injury. Landing on the ground with your head or getting struck by a part of a car may break your skull and severely damage the brain tissue. 

Bone Fractures and Breaks 

A pedestrian-vehicle collision hits multiple parts of a pedestrian’s body. The vehicle hits the legs of an adult pedestrian, causing the pedestrian to move in the vehicle’s direction. The pedestrian hits the vehicle’s hood or windshield with the head, face, or neck. The pedestrian then hits the ground forcefully. 

Bone fractures and breaks are common in parking lot pedestrian accidents due to the multiple body parts that get hit. You might fracture or break your legs, hands, wrists, or shoulder. You might also sustain broken ribs following a jolt to the chest. 

Soft-Tissue Injuries 

Soft-tissue injuries, including strains, sprains, cuts, tears, and lacerations, can cause unbearable pain. These injuries generally heal faster than spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, and fractured bones. They are, however, prone to infection and leave visible scars. 

Determining Liability in a Mall Parking Lot Pedestrian Accident

Determining who is liable when a pedestrian accident happens in a mall parking lot requires a careful review of the actions preceding the accident. This may involve reviewing witness statements, police reports, and pictures or videos of the accident captured by surveillance cameras.

It may also involve bringing in an accident reconstructionist to recreate the accident and gather additional information necessary to determine the liable party. A lawyer who has resolved many personal injury cases like yours can collect and review all available evidence in your case to identify the at-fault party. 

Do not worry about the cost of hiring a lawyer. Most injury lawyers in Illinois provide legal services on a contingency fee basis. This fee arrangement allows you to pay your lawyer only if compensation is recovered. The fee agreement usually specifies how much the injury lawyer will take from a settlement or court-awarded compensation. 

Multiple parties may shoulder a portion of liability when a pedestrian accident happens in a mall parking lot. The driver and pedestrian might carry a percentage of the liability if they were both on a phone call when the accident happened. 

The mall owner may also shoulder a portion of the liability in the accident if faulty parking lot design or poor maintenance contributed to the accident. Poor lighting, improper snow and ice removal, and wrongly placed pedestrian crosswalks may expose people to unnecessary risks. 

A manufacturer could bear some percentage of liability if a defective part or system contributed to the accident. Defective computers, brakes, and steering systems are common defects contributing to pedestrian accidents in mall parking lots. 

A company managing or maintaining a mall parking lot could also bear some liability if a dangerous condition in the lot contributed to the accident. You will need to prove that the company in question knew or should have reasonably known about the existence of the dangerous condition. 

About The Author

Photo of Todd A. Strong
Illinois workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyer Todd A. Strong is the founder of Strong Law Offices in Peoria, Illinois. Todd brings considerable legal knowledge, experience, and skill to the table to ensure injured victims throughout the state are treated with respect, dignity, and fairness.