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When is premises liability an issue in parking lots?

In New York, the owner of a public building has the obligation to keep their premises reasonably safe for members of the public. This includes having a safe means to enter and exit the building. This rule is applicable to office buildings and stores, for example.

Landowners must also act reasonably in keeping the conditions of their premises reasonably safe under all circumstances, regardless of whether or not it is a public premise. The use of the property and the frequency of its use by guests helps determine the chance of an injury occurring, the gravity of the injury and the responsibility of preventing the risk of harm. Allowing the pubic to utilize a building increases the number of prospective users, the risk of harm and, in all likelihood, the property owner’s duties.


The New York Court of Appeals, in 2003, ruled that landowners do not have a strict duty to have lights installed and turned on in parking lots, and that a parking lot without lights is not necessarily automatically considered dangerous. The court addressed whether a landowner was negligent by not installing lots on a parking lot and relying on the illumination of a neighboring structure. The court ruled that the failure to install lights did not make the property owner strictly liable. The jury, instead, should determine liability based on whether the property owner defendants knew or should have known whether the existing illumination was sufficient based on the lot’s size and design.

Legal assistance may determine landlord negligence and help victims of seek compensation for serious injuries. Prompt legal advice can help protect a plaintiff’s rights in a premises liability lawsuit.