Who is liable for parking garage accidents in California?

woman walking to her car in parking garage

Due to California’s lack of street parking, many drivers park in garages. While parking garages offer numerous benefits. They also pose unique risks to both drivers and pedestrians. Unfortunately, parking garage accidents are a common occurrence due to negligence. If you have been injured in a parking garage accident, contact our determined Santa Clara County Personal Injury Attorneys, who will represent your interests to hold negligent parties accountable for their actions.

What are some of California’s most common causes of parking garage accidents?

Unfortunately, drivers and pedestrians often let their guards down while navigating parking garages as there is less traffic than on the street. However, despite their convenience, these structures present unique risks of danger. Various types of accidents can arise due to negligence, including slip-and-fall accidents and collisions. The following include but are not limited to some of the most common causes of accidents in parking garages:

  • Poor lighting. Drivers and pedestrians need sufficient lighting to navigate parking garages safely. Insufficient lighting can impede drivers and pedestrians from seeing potential hazards, decreasing their reaction time and causing accidents due to a lack of awareness.
  • Distracted driving. Drivers are required to travel at slow speeds while navigating a parking garage. As such, drivers often feel as though they can safely multi-task. However, that is not the case. Distracted driving and inattention are dangerous at any location. When drivers and even pedestrians divert their attention from the task at hand, it can result in severe accidents and injuries.
  • Missing or conflicting signage. When traffic signs are missing, damaged, unclear, or conflicting, it can confuse drivers and pedestrians. When drivers and pedestrians are confused by signage in a parking garage, they can travel in the wrong direction, leading to a collision.

Can a government agency be liable for a parking garage accident?

In California, property owners are legally required to exercise reasonable care, meaning they must maintain a safe environment, fixing dangerous property conditions promptly to prevent accidents and injuries. Therefore, if a driver or pedestrian is injured in an accident due to a lack of maintenance, such as defects on ramps or cracked pavements, the parking garage owner can be held liable if it can prove that their negligence contributed to a collision.

Parking garages can be owned either by private entities or municipalities. If you have sustained injuries in a municipal parking garage, pursuing legal actions can be pretty complex as there are strict procedures you must adhere to file charges against a government agency. In California, sovereign immunity protects the state from lawsuits, meaning private citizens cannot sue the government for damages without its consent. Fortunately, there are exceptions to sovereign immunity through the California Tort Claims Act. To pursue legal action against a municipality, you must file a Notice of Claim before the commencement of your lawsuit. A Notice of Claim provides the government of your intent and gives them reasonable time to investigate the claim on its own merits. Failure to file a Notice of Claim without 90 days of the date of the incident will result in the absolute bar of recovery.

To ensure you do not accidentally relinquish your right to take legal action to seek monetary compensation for the damages you’ve endured, it is in your best interest to enlist the help of a skilled attorney from The Law Offices of Brian J. O’Grady who can help you file your claim to meet the strict deadline.