Pedestrian accidents can occur anywhere, especially in parking lots where there may be multiple hazards, including negligent drivers. In such cases, the owners and other parties responsible for maintaining the parking lot's safety may be liable for injuries to innocent pedestrians. Anongoing casein upstate New York helps illustrate when such liability may exist.
The victim in this case was walking through a parking lot adjacent to Ralph Wilson Stadium to attend a Buffalo Bills game. The victim was struck by a vehicle attempting to evade stadium security. Just before hitting the victim, the vehicle's driver swerved to avoid a “burning log” that was lying in the parking lot for some reason.
The victim sued the driver as well as the Bills, Erie County (which owns Ralph Wilson Stadium), and the company hired by the Bills to oversee parking lot security. Erie County Supreme Court granted summary judgment dismissing the Bills and Erie County as defendants, but denied the security company's motion for the same.
On appeal the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, reinstated the complaint against the Bills and the county, but like the Supreme Court refused to dismiss the security company as a defendant. Without ruling on the merits of the victim's claims, which will be tried before a jury, the Fourth Department said the allegations were sufficient to justify allowing the case to proceed. With respect to the security company, the Fourth Department said the victim presented sufficient evidence from which a jury could find the defendant “failed to furnish adequate security and crowd control in the parking lot.” Specifically, the victim provided an affidavit from an eyewitness who testified the driver “was involved in a fight, taken into custody by [security company] employees, and then released” just prior to the accident. There was also a disputed question as to whether the security company “was negligent in allowing the burning log to partially obstruct the lane in the parking lot.”
As for the Bills and Erie County, the Fourth Department said they “failed to establish as a matter of law that they satisfied their duty to maintain a safe premises.” The Bills and the county argued the security company should be solely liable for any negligence in this respect, but the appeals court noted as the owners and operators of the stadium parking lot, they are “vicariously liable” for their “nondelegable duty to keep the premises safe.” In other words, the mere fact they hired a third party to provide security does not relieve them of their potential liability to the victim. The court noted that there was substantial evidence the security company had to follow “guidelines and procedures promulgated by the Bills and that the Bills 'reserve[d] the right to utilize its own employees to provide security services.'”
Need Help With a Personal Injury Lawsuit?Establishing liability in an accident case when there are multiple potential defendants is often a complex undertaking. That is why you should always work with an experienced New York personal injury lawyer who can help ensure you get your day in court against all of the people responsible for your accident. Contact the offices of Waldhauser & Nisar, LLP, if you would like to speak with someone today.