Severe Injuries Caused by Lack of Bollards in Parking Lots
Busy parking lots can be danger zones, especially when they lack a critical safety device—bollards. Studies estimate that about 20% of all motor vehicle accidents take place in parking lots. More than 50,000 accidents reportedly take place in parking lots in the United States each year. These accidents have resulted in approximately 60,000 injuries and 500 deaths.
While parking lots can be dangerous to drivers and their passengers, they’re especially hazardous to pedestrians. The good news is that parking lot owners and operators have the ability to design and maintain their property in a way that maximizes pedestrian safety. For example, parking lots should be well-lit and designed so pedestrians can pass through without incident. Bollards should be used to protect pedestrians from cars and other motor vehicles.
The bad news is that when parking lots are poorly designed and lack bollards, pedestrians run the risk of being hit by cars and suffering serious, debilitating and sometimes fatal injuries. Unfortunately, most parking lots tend to be designed for drivers than for vulnerable pedestrians.
If you’ve been seriously injured in a parking lot or parking garage accident, which could have been prevented if bollards had been present, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman in Boston are ready to help.
Our caring and compassionate attorneys will perform a thorough investigation of your parking lot accident and call on engineers, accident reconstructionists and other experts if needed. We will make sure that all responsible parties pay their fair share for your injuries including obtaining compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages.
How Do Bollards Prevent Parking Lot Accidents?
Bollards are short vertical posts—usually two or three feet tall—composed of sturdy material like concrete, steel or some other metal. They usually are painted in a bright color like yellow to promote visibility. The term “bollard” comes from the nautical world. A bollard was a post on a ship or quay used to moor boats. Bollards are also known as “bollard barriers.”
You’re most likely to see bollards lined up in the space between a parking lot and storefront or bordering walkways in front of stadiums and other places where large groups of people tend to congregate.
These sturdy posts can be the difference between a pedestrian passing through a parking lot safely,without incident or sustaining a serious injury in a crash.
When installed properly, bollards ensure that motorists and pedestrians are able to safely co-exist in a small, often congested space. These metal posts create a definitive and impassable barrier for vehicles while allowing for the free flow of pedestrians. Bollards can be fixed in place, removable or automatic. Fixed bollards are the strongest and most resistant to impact.
In many situations, bollards are considered to be superior to continuous barriers such as fences because they don’t have specific entry points and allow for pedestrians to cut through without walking around. If a driver accidentally presses the gas instead of the brake, a bollard barrier is likely to protect a pedestrian from an out-of-control vehicle while a fence or other partition might not.
Outside of parking lots, bollards are used to prevent vehicle-ramming attacks and guard against “ram-raiding,” which occurs when a vehicle drives through a store’s door or window for looting purposes.
In many settings, bollards are considered the industry standard when it comes to shielding pedestrians from vehicle-related injuries. They are appropriate for any area where a vehicle has the potential to drive accidentally or intentionally into one or more pedestrians.
Who’s to Blame for a Parking Lot Accident Caused by Lack of Bollards?
If you or a family member has been injured in a parking lot or parking garage accident that could have been prevented if bollards had been installed, you might be wondering who’s responsible for your injuries.
Depending on the specific facts of your parking lot accident, a number of parties are likely to share responsibility for your accident and injuries, including:
● The at-fault motorist
● Parking lot owner
● Parking lot operator
● Parking lot engineer or architect
● Government entity (if parking lot is government-owned)
Parking lots should be designed to allow for the safe ingress and egress of motorists and pedestrians. This includes the installation of bollards as well as other safety measures such as lighting, security cameras and traffic signs.
In 2016, the estate of a Massachusetts woman who was struck and killed by an out-of-control vehicle outside of a Cumberland Farms was awarded more than $32 million against the convenience store chain. The estate argued that the store was negligent in failing to install bollards to protect customers. The jury’s verdict was later reduced to $20 million and upheld on appeal.
To prevent accidents, bollards must be properly installed and impact resistant. Bollards that aren’t properly mounted or secured might give way when a vehicle crashes into them. In addition, bollards should be properly spaced out and marked or made visible in order to deter drivers from attempting to jump curbs, access areas that are off limits, or engage in other unsafe actions.
After a parking lot or parking garage accident, security footage can be invaluable evidence used not only to identify liable parties but hold them accountable for their negligence. The parking lot accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman can help you obtain security footage as well as other evidence needed to build a case against any negligent parties.
Other helpful evidence includes photos of the accident victim’s injuries, photos of the accident scene and statements from bystanders who witnessed the accident.
Types of Injuries Caused by Lack of Bollards in Parking Lots
Bollards prevent cars, trucks and other vehicles from entering safe spaces and crashing into unsuspecting and unprotected pedestrians. When a parking lot doesn’t have bollards to protect pedestrians, the outcome can be tragic.
Pedestrians who are struck by motor vehicles may sustain serious injuries, including:
● Broken bones
● Head trauma
● Internal bleeding
● Loss of limb
● Spinal cord injury
● Nerve damage
These injuries can be devastating and require the accident victim to undergo multiple surgeries and painful rehabilitation.
Children are likely to be involved in parking lot accidents because of their small size. A driver might not see a small child while backing up, especially if the parking lot is busy and chaotic.
Oftentimes, parking lot accident cases are resolved through settlements. With a pedestrian accident attorney on your side, you’ll be protected from making the mistakes that people tend to make when settling a case. For example, it’s common for people to enter into settlements before they know the full extent of their injuries and to settle for an amount that doesn’t provide adequate compensation. Once you sign off on a settlement, you give up your right to go after that party for further money.
Why Are Parking Lots So Dangerous?
There are many reasons that explain why a large number of pedestrian accidents take place in parking lots and garages. Here are a few:
● Increased concentration of traffic
● Lack of visibility due to parked cars, pedestrians and overgrown landscaping
● Little room between vehicles for pedestrians to maneuver through
● Drivers backing up vehicles have limited visibility and must contend with blind spots
● Drivers distracted by looking for empty spots or using cellphones and other electronic devices
● Road rage associated with trying to locate an available spot in a crowded parking lot, especially during the holidays or other times when stores have big sales or events
● Pedestrians aren’t as vigilant in parking lots because vehicles tend to travel at a low rate of speed
In one survey conducted by the National Safety Council, 66% of respondents reported that they make phone calls while driving through parking lots.
In addition to installing bollards, parking lot and parking garage owners and operators can minimize pedestrian accidents by keeping lots illuminated at night, maintaining lots in good condition and posting clear signage.
How Can Pedestrians Stay Safe in Parking Lots?
Although you have no control over how a parking lot has been designed or whether it contains bollards, there are some precautions that you can take when walking through a parking lot or parking garage.
In general, pedestrians should be aware of their surroundings when traveling through parking lots or parking garages. Here are some tips:
● Be on the lookout for vehicles backing in and out of parking spaces as drivers performing backout maneuvers have limited visibility.
● Look for speeding vehicles.
● Don’t text and walk. Drivers aren’t the only ones who can become distracted by cellphones or other technology.
● Use crosswalks and sidewalks whenever possible and walk behind bollard barriers.
● Try to stay in the main aisles of the lot and avoid walking between cars or in other areas where drivers might not be able to see you.
● Walk in a group with other pedestrians if possible.
● Be especially vigilant at night and in inclement weather as drivers might have a hard time seeing you and road conditions could be slick and require more lead time for braking.
For more on how our parking lot and parking garage accident lawyers can help you with your lack of bollards case, contact The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, LLC today at (617) 367-2900 or use our online form.