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Is Your Condo or Co-op Parking Lot a Breeding Ground for Lawsuits?

David C. Swedelson in Building Operations on June 7, 2013

New York City

Parking-Lot  Lawsuits
June 7, 2013

In the above case, the injured woman settled her claims for $500,000. While most prudent cooperatives and condo associations have at least $1 million liability insurance, imagine if the injuries were so severe that the injured homeowner or resident was claiming damages in excess of $1 million. And imagine the impact on your insurance coverage, both in the ability to get insurance and the cost of a liability policy after your carrier has paid out $500,000 in a liability settlement.

Asphalt at Fault

In the case referenced above, the injured plaintiff alleged that the parking barrier was "camouflaged" —  that the barrier and the asphalt parking-lot surface blended together and therefore the barrier was not noticeable. She also alleged that the overall condition of the barrier indicated that the hazard had existed for a substantial amount of time, causing a danger on the premises.

Paint yellow stripes on your

parking barriers or paint

the top yellow. Consider

using a reflective paint.

As I was preparing this blog post and looking for photographs of concrete parking barriers, one of the first I came upon was the one I used (see above). I'm not sure if it's the nature of the lighting, but as you can see, the concrete barriers are the same or similar color as the parking lot surface.

So how does a condo or co-op board avoid liability? The board and/or management should inspect your parking areas to determine if the parking barriers are in good condition, and determine if, as a result of age, they have gotten darker such that they blend in more with the asphalt that may have gotten lighter.

Mellow Yellow

Perhaps power-washing the parking lot and the concrete parking barriers will bring back some of the original color, so that there is a distinct differentiation between the barrier and the asphalt parking lot surface.

I have been advised by some clients that when faced with these kinds of claims, they have painted yellow stripes on their parking barriers or painted the top yellow so that it can be easily distinguished from the asphalt parking surface. Consider utilizing a reflective paint so that at night the barrier will be more noticeable.

Taking steps like these can help eliminate lawsuits, potential liability, and will help ensure that the condo and co-op boards can find insurance coverage at a reasonable cost.

 

dcs-square

Attorney David Swedelson is a senior partner at SwedelsonGottlieb, a California law firm specializing in community-association law. This article has been adapted from his article on his firm's blog.

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