It’s natural to worry about your car when you park it in the lot of a busy grocery or department store. All the unattended shopping carts seem like potential sources of damage if one of them bumps into your car. What would you do in that situation if the damage was severe enough? Would you be able to sue the store? These are common questions that a lot of shoppers have. The answer is, like many personal injury questions—it depends.
A woman in New Jersey recently sued a store because two shopping carts damaged her car. After parking, but before she exited the car, she saw two carts racing towards her and the lot attendant chasing after them. The attendant was unable to catch the carts in time, so they crashed into her car and caused significant damage to her front bumper. How can you tell if the store is responsible for the damage?
Negligence and Personal Injury Cases
Like most other personal injury cases, you must determine if the other party was acting negligently. Determining negligence has two components: duty of care and exercise of reasonable care.
Did a Duty of Care Exist?
You first must determine if the other party had a duty of care towards you. Did they have a responsibility to keep you safe and prevent damage or injury? In the woman’s situation, the store owned the parking lot and was responsible for having attendants there, so there was a definite duty of care owed to motorists and customers to maintain a safe environment.
If the property was owned by a separate property management company, it is possible that the store would not be liable at all. In that situation, the property management company may have had a duty of care. If the property management company hired a third company to staff and attend the parking lot, then the case becomes even more complicated and may involve multiple defendants.
Did They Exercise Reasonable Care?
If you establish that the store owed you a duty of care, you will also need to show that they did not exercise reasonable care. This is difficult to define, but involves determining if they take reasonable steps to prevent accidents from occurring. If they have several shopping cart corrals and adequately staff the lot, then it would be difficult to prove they didn’t exercise reasonable care. However, if they did not tend to the parking lot or if the parking lot was understaffed that day, it might be enough to establish that they weren’t exercising reasonable care. With these two concepts in mind, you’ll be able to rest a little easier when you leave your car in a busy parking lot. These types of accidents cannot always be avoided, but you can get compensation if it’s appropriate. Let us know how we can help with your next personal injury case. If you were injured in a parking lot car accident, we can help you get a settlement to pay for your medical care and damage to your vehicle.