What should I do if I was in a downtown area a few weeks ago and as I walked through a public pay to park lot, I slipped and fell?

I was quick to find that I was lying in sealcoating. The company working on the lot had their crew on the far side, so I didn’t see them and they had nothing up to warn pedestrians of the work. I ruined my clothes, totalling around $500 in loss. Is my recourse with the company that owns the lot or the company doing the work?

Asked on June 3, 2014 under Personal Injury, Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Your recourse would be most likely with the company doing the work, though if you have to take legal action, you would sue both (since the company hiring them *could* be liable under certain circumstances) and let them fight it out about liability. However, it may not be worth your while to take legal action:

1) You can only recover an amount equal to your loss, which is at most $500--it is probably less, because a) it may be difficult to prove you had $500 of clothing on (that's a high number); b) it would be difficult to prove it was all ruined and none could be cleaned; and c) even you could do both the above, the clothing, by definition, was not "new"--you were wearing it, after all--which will reduce its value from the starting value. Therefore, you are probably talking more like $250-$400 of value.

2) To win in a legal action, you'd have to prove that a) they were negligent, or unreasonably careless, such as by not setting out tape or cones, which you may be able to do, but which is not a given; and also b) that you were not also negligent (for example, you didn't fail to pay attention to where you were walking), since your own negligence would reduce what you could collect.

If the company does not voluntarily choose to offer you compensation, therefore, it is not likely that this is worth the time and cost of a lawsuit.


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