Did someone attack and injure you in a parking garage? Do you face mounting medical bills, lost income, and other expenses related to your injury? If so, you can sue to recover compensation for these losses.
Here’s what you should know about the responsibilities of parking garage owners, the dangers of negligent security, and whether you can sue if you get attacked in a parking garage. Don’t hesitate to contact a Bakersfield premises liability attorney for legal assistance in your case.
Are Parking Garages Responsible for Security?
Yes. Owners and managers of parking garages have a duty to regularly inspect their premises for any hazards or dangers. If they discover any unsafe conditions, such as poor lighting, malfunctioning gates, or other safety concerns, they must warn visitors about these dangers or promptly address and fix them. If any known hazards exist that the owner still needs to fix, they must provide proper signage warning visitors of the danger.
Some parking garage owners might delegate security to third-party companies, but this does not relieve them from liability. If a third-party provider fails in its duty, the garage owner can still face liability, especially if they did not exercise due diligence in selecting a competent security provider.
What Does Adequate Security Look Like?
So, how far does the parking garage owner’s duty to provide reasonable security extend? For instance, are owners responsible for installing security cameras?
In short, it depends. Adequate security can vary for different properties depending on the foreseeability of any criminal activity on the premises. To determine if criminal activity was foreseeable, owners should consider previous incidents of crime within or near the premises and the surrounding neighborhood’s crime rate.
If there’s a pattern or reasonable expectation of potential harm, the owner must take proactive measures to secure their garage. This could include improved lighting, surveillance cameras, security patrols, emergency call boxes, and secure access points.
Why Not Just Sue the Person Who Attacked Me?
You likely want to hold the assailant responsible if you suffered an attack or injury in a parking garage. After all, they are the person most responsible for what you suffered, and they should have to pay the price.
Under California law, assault and other violent acts aren’t just crimes – they’re also torts, which means they provide victims with grounds to file suit. To put it another way, you can indeed sue the person who attacked you.
Still, filing a civil claim against an attacker is no guarantee of financial recovery, even if a court finds them guilty in a criminal case. Furthermore, the assailant might not have the financial means to pay a civil judgment even if the court rules in your favor. Fortunately, they are not the only ones you can hold responsible.
Filing a negligent security claim targets the parking garage owner or manager for failing to provide adequate security that could have prevented the incident. Businesses typically carry liability insurance specifically for such claims. Going this route gives you a better chance of obtaining the compensation you deserve for your injuries and related losses.
Examples of Inadequate or Negligent Security
Parking garages, which are usually secluded and multi-leveled, are hotspots for potential danger. Inadequate security in these spaces can increase the likelihood of violent crimes like assault.
Here are some examples of negligent security practices that could invite criminal activity:
- Inadequate Lighting: Areas with dim lighting can provide cover for potential assailants. Proper illumination in parking garages improves visibility and deters criminal activity.
- Lack of Surveillance Cameras: Surveillance cameras serve a dual purpose: They deter criminals and capture evidence if incidents occur. A lack of monitoring can make a garage more attractive to those with malicious intent.
- Broken Access Controls: Malfunctioning gates, doors, or barriers can allow unauthorized individuals easier access to the facility.
- Ineffective or Absent Security Personnel: Security guards or patrols can deter potential attackers. If criminals know a garage lacks adequate security, they might view its users as easy targets.
- Poor Maintenance: Broken railings, uneven surfaces, or other structural issues can provide potential hiding spots or weapons for criminal assailants and hinder victims from attempting to flee.
Incidents That Can Result From Inadequate Parking Garage Security
When parking garage security measures are lax, the risk of violent crime escalates.
Here are several crimes that could arise from negligent security in parking garages:
- Muggings: Muggings are common crimes in secluded areas. Some muggings involve forcefully stealing valuables, leaving victims with physical injuries and missing possessions.
- Physical Assaults: This includes all attacks resulting in bodily harm, whether or not the attacker intends to rob the victim.
- Sexual Assaults: The isolated environment of a parking garage provides ample opportunities for sexual predators.
- Carjackings: Some criminals wait in parking garages to forcibly take vehicles from unsuspecting owners, often using violence.
- Kidnappings: Sometimes, attackers use the cover of a garage to abduct others, taking advantage of reduced visibility and limited public presence.
Steps to Take if You Get Attacked in a Public Place
Experiencing an attack in a parking garage is a traumatizing and overwhelming experience. As you recover, prioritize your safety and gather the necessary information to support any future legal actions.
Here are some proactive steps you should take if you get hurt by an attacker in a parking garage:
- Follow Your Doctor’s Orders: You should follow your medical provider’s treatment plan for your injuries and keep all follow-up appointments. This ensures that your injuries will heal properly. Plus, medical records serve as essential evidence for any legal claims.
- Document the Incident: Write down everything you remember about the attack, the assailant, and any potential witnesses as soon as possible. Do this while the details are still fresh in your memory.
- Take Photos: Photograph your injuries, including bruises, cuts, and scrapes. Also, if it’s safe to do so, take pictures of the location where the incident occurred, especially if there are visible signs of negligent security.
- Notify Parking Garage Management: Inform them of the incident and request a copy of their incident report for your records.
- Collect Witness Information: If anyone witnessed the attack, collect their statements and contact information. Their accounts could support essential details for your claim.
- Preserve Evidence: Keep any clothing you wore or items that sustained damage during the attack as possible evidence.
- Consult with an Attorney: Contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your rights. They can guide you on the best course forward.
What Evidence Can You Use to Prove an Assault Case?
Establishing liability in a case involving a parking garage assault requires a clear demonstration that the property owner or manager failed to ensure reasonable safety. Compelling evidence can mean the difference between a successful claim and costly frustration.
A knowledgeable lawyer can gather and present evidence to support your case:
- Security Footage: Videos from surveillance cameras (or a lack of them) can demonstrate the absence of adequate security measures, the occurrence of the assault, or any malfunctions or blind spots in the surveillance system.
- Witness Testimonies: Statements from individuals who witnessed the incident can provide firsthand accounts of the circumstances of the assault.
- Previous Incident Reports: Reports of prior crimes or complaints from the same parking garage could establish a pattern of negligence.
- Maintenance and Inspection Logs: A lack of regular inspections or unresolved maintenance issues could indicate the owner’s negligence in ensuring the safety of their premises.
- Photographic Evidence: Photographs of poor lighting, broken access points, or other hazards can visually demonstrate the unsafe conditions.
- Medical Records: Documents from medical professionals can verify the nature and extent of your injuries and link them to the incident in question.
- Communication Records: Any written communication with the property owner or manager, especially if it highlights concerns or reports known security issues, can demonstrate their awareness of potential risks.
- Security Contracts: If the garage owner contracted a third-party security company, the terms of this contract or any breaches could establish liability.
- Police Reports: Official police records of the incident can establish the severity of the crime and provide objective accounts of what happened.
- Expert Testimonies: Security experts can testify about the adequacy of the security measures in place by comparing them to standard practices.
What Happens if the Parking Garage Owner Blames Me?
In cases involving assaults resulting from inadequate security, some parking garage owners might deflect blame onto victims. For instance, they could argue that victims contributed to their own injuries because they were in a restricted area, ignored safety signage, or engaged in risky behavior.
This is why you need to hire an experienced attorney in a premises liability case. A lawyer can gather and present evidence to prove the property owner is liable for your injuries and that you are not at fault.
The best way to protect your legal rights and shield yourself from undue liability in an assault injury case is to work with a knowledgeable lawyer. An attorney can uncover valuable evidence of the other party’s liability, downplay the effects of any evidence against you, and maximize your financial recovery. This could include compensation for any medical expenses, income losses, and physical suffering you incur due to the parking garage assault incident.
Can I Sue for Emotional Trauma After a Parking Garage Attack?
Emotional trauma is often just as debilitating as physical harm. Victims of violent assaults like parking garage attacks often suffer from post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, and other emotional distress long after their physical wounds heal.
However, the ability to sue for emotional distress varies from state to state. In California, for instance, the law stipulates that you can sue for emotional distress, but only if your emotional distress results from accompanying physical injuries.
If you suffer both physical harm and emotional trauma due to a parking garage attack, you can seek compensation for both. But if you experience emotional trauma without physical injuries, you usually cannot claim compensation for your emotional trauma.
Consult a legal professional to understand your rights and potential avenues for compensation after any parking garage assault incident. Your personal injury lawyer can assess the specifics of your situation and the laws of your state to identify all possible sources of compensation for your injuries.
How a Parking Garage Assault Lawyer Can Help
If you experienced a violent assault in a parking garage, having a lawyer by your side can make a significant difference in pursuing justice and fair compensation.
A parking garage assault lawyer can protect your rights and strengthen your legal claim by:
- Investigating the parking garage’s security system
- Gathering and preserving critical evidence
- Interviewing potential witnesses
- Coordinating with law enforcement and other agencies
- Reviewing the parking garage’s past incident records
- Analyzing surveillance footage for inconsistencies or evidence
- Dissecting any security contracts or agreements for the parking garage
- Collaborating with security experts for professional testimonies
- Calculating your claim’s full value, including lost income and medical costs
- Negotiating aggressively with insurers to maximize your settlement
- Protecting your rights against aggressive defense tactics
- Challenging any evidence the property owner presents against you
- Taking your case to court if the other side won’t agree to a fair settlement