Las Vegas hotels and casinos continue to ignore safety issues presented in Self-Parking garages. Those garages are often very dark, dimly lit and have hazards concealed everywhere.
Poor lighting is probably the biggest contributor to trip and fall accidents in parking garages. Even in the daytime the concrete structures seem to prevent light from hitting the floors. Much of this is caused by the specific color of the monochromatic look of gray concrete. Add subtle lighting and not only do you have a security risk, but a nightmare of visual hazards.
The hazards presented in parking areas are numerous:
At Benson and Bingham we have handled nearly every type of garage accident. Oil from cars tends to accumulate in the parking stalls and near stop signs. These create major problems for flooring that is not textured. The lack of friction creates a slippery disaster that leads to broken bones and spinal conditions. Cat litter or other absorption materials are rarely used by the security or the engineering department.
Parking bumpers have been a big issue. The pre-cast concrete bumpers are often moved due to bad alignment with iron rebar. The bumpers which are usually concealed in a loaded garage make traversing through designed walkways hazardous. If one bumper is out of alignment, a trip and fall is inevitable. Such heavy items are many time ignored by the hotel as something that is not dangerous.
Steel signs—everything from handicapped signs to traffic signage are all potentially dangerous if a patron does not see it. The colors are often red and orange on one side but monochromatic gray on the other. Add some bad lighting and presto, someone loses an eye or gets a major headache. Casinos typically blame the customers for failing to watch where they are going—and sometimes they are right, but often wrong. Signs are also run over by other cars leaving exposed posts that can pierce skin or impale unsuspecting pedestrians.
Manholes—Loose or not fully closed manholes can pose a danger in parking garages. Often times, the liability falls upon whether a parking garage worker failed to adequately place the cover over the manhole; additionally, is there any history of the same manhole being exposed or loose? These questions can often times be answered by researching historical record at the parking garage.
Exposed rebar occurs more than we would care to know about. Some of this is caused by the initial construction when the rebar is exposed in a parking bumper and it is not cut flush with the bumper. Other times the bumpers are removed and the exposed rebar is left to jam a foot or cause a trip.
Exposed bolts and concrete Anchors. Improper removal of signs or redesign of a parking structure may leave concrete anchors exposed. These anchors cause serious hazards because the are so small and invisible to the average person. Given our extreme heat in the summer months, persons wearing flip flops or open toed sandels are at risk of major foot injuries.
Parking garage stairs are very dangerous if not properly safety proofed. Stairs need good design. Poor materials in construction lead to horrific falls—usually leading themselves to the hospital. Stainless steel lips, polished edges and other stair construction is simply hazardous even if very durable. Anti-skid tape or water channeling grooves should always be designed and implemented. Some of the best stairway construction this author has every seen is the European Subway stairs. These stairs are constructed with strong handrails, anti-slip tile and grooved concrete. Even when wet they are very abrasive and resist slippage.
Beer bottles and broken glass represent obvious debris hazards if one steps on such foreign items. The Vegas mentality of some tourists is evident by the trash left in the parking garage. Alcohol tends to cause many people do dumb things including leaving glass behind. These are the toughest cases to deal with as clients who have been injured will have a tough time showing the hotel had enough notice to rectify the hazard.
Criminal Activity One of the easiest targets for criminals are unsuspecting tourists who are loading their car in a dark and un-supervised area. Aside from car thefts, criminal assaults are common. Precautions of parking too far from the hotel elevator, parking in a dark area, or ignoring the free valet options are a mistake.
Workers going “to and from” work are not considered “on the job” for purposes of a worker’s compensation claim. This is the general rule as stated in MGM Mirage vs. Cotton, 121 Nev. 396 (2005). This rule is also known as the “going and coming” rule, which prevents such claims. There are a few exceptions however. First, is the parking lot rule.
The parking lot rule's “an injury sustained on an employer’s premises while an employee is proceeding to or from work is considered [to be] in the course of employment.” Id @ 400.
So, if a person falls or is injured at work in a parking lot normally the injury must be covered. The Supreme Court did clarify this to mean that one must satisfy a two-prong test:
It must be in the course and scope of employment and being close in time to the start or end of work is considered to meet that criterion, and
the action must have arose out of the employment. Tripping on curbs or potholes is considered a work place environment. If you have a question regarding an accident in a parking lot, whether it be an automobile issue, trip and fall, or an issue with an object, contact Benson and Bingham.
If you or someone you know may have had a parking bumper accident, exposed rebar accident, sign post accident, an exposed bolt accident, or parking garage accident in general, call the parking garage attorneys at Benson & Bingham. Ask for Joe Benson at 702-382-9797.