Common Liabilities on Commercial and Residential Parking Areas

No one likes being sued, but unfortunately, America has become a litigious society. Whether you weren’t warned that your coffee was too hot, or you slipped and fell on your untied shoelaces, it always seems to be someone else’s fault. Reducing potential liabilities on your property is an integral part of ensuring patron safety, reducing insurance premiums, and maintaining an aesthetically pleasing curbside appearance. Here are the six most important areas of your parking lot that can degenerate over time creating hazards, and how to ensure they are properly repaired.

1) ADA Compliance – The Americans with Disabilities Act created a standard by which all properties must conform in order to provide accessibility to handicapped patrons. These accommodations include handicap parking and signs, access ramps with warning mats, and guard/handrails. All of these elements must meet very specific coded guidelines in order to ensure compliance with the law, as well as safety for disabled visitors.

2) Drainage – One of the most overlooked elements of parking lot safety has to do with drainage. Improperly designed or poorly maintained parking lots that have drainage issues can quickly become more and more dilapidated. As water sits unmoved on certain surfaces, it can stain, damage, or erode them. Making sure that your catch basins and inlet drains are at the proper height and are cleaned regularly to remove obstructions helps prevent water from building up in your parking lot. You can also deter the retention of standing water by leveling up depressions in the parking surface.

3) Asphalt – Asphalt is generally found in parking surfaces and roadways. Asphalt is laid down on top of a base layer of limerock that is graded to ensure proper slope and drainage. It is important that potholes, sinkholes, depressions, and unpaved areas are addressed as quickly as possible to avoid worsening problems. If potholes are not patched in a timely manner, for example, they can become larger and deeper, and create a perilous driving and walking surface.

4) Concrete – Concrete can be found in various locations on your property, from sidewalks to curbing, to dividers, to ramps and stairs, and in some cases, even the parking surface itself. Concrete is poured into specially designed forms depending on the shape of the concrete structure you want. Rebar or wire mesh is also inserted into the concrete before it dries to add tensile strength. Over time, sidewalks and curbs can become damaged by expanding tree roots, standing water, or vehicles. Making sure all of your concrete structures are in pristine condition will help keep your customers safe.

5) Striping/Signage – The pavement markings and roadway signs on your property are an invaluable asset that helps keep vehicular and pedestrian traffic running smoothly. Making sure entrances and exits are clearly marked, sporting properly-painted lines and arrows, and having highly-visible signage will allow your residents or customers to feel safe in your parking area.

6) Car Stops – Car stops are concrete, plastic, or metal bumpers located between 18 and 36 inches from the front of parking stalls. They are pinned in place to prevent them from moving and occasionally need to be re-pinned after a run-in with a vehicle or heavy object such as a shopping cart. If the car stops were not pinned properly, the pins may be protruding from the top of the car stop which is a trip hazard. In addition, concrete car stops contain rebar which reinforces them, and any exposed rebar is a potential problem. If your car stops are stenciled indicating guest/visitor/customer/tenant parking, or a time limit is applied to the parking spaces, it may also be time to have them pressure-washed, re-painted, and re-stenciled to ensure high visibility.

With all of these opportunities for repairs on your property, it’s important to find a parking lot and roadway solutions company you can trust to keep. And even more important, is finding a company with the technical know-how to service ALL of the potential pitfalls on your property. Finally, make sure the vendor you choose for these repairs and maintenance projects has up to date insurance themselves, with limits high enough to handle the scope of your work. Be sure to request a Certificate of Insurance to verify these amounts.

Steven Joseph is a freelance writer and accounting consultant in addition to working for a parking lot and roadway solutions company, ALL Paving in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

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