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Can wheelchair accidents in parking structures be prevented?

Individuals rely on underground parking garages or multi-level parking structures to provide numerous comforts. From shielding users from weather challenges to an area that is easier to maintain than an open-air parking lot, many people naturally tend toward these structures when choosing a place to park. Unfortunately, those who rely on a wheelchair for mobility could potentially find these areas dangerous.

Aside from the devastating possibility that a motor vehicle can collide with an individual in a wheelchair, the parking garage structure itself presents numerous hazards. Even though parking structures must follow strict rules and regulations to ensure they are ADA-compliant, several factors can contribute to severe injuries, including:

  • Improperly graded slopes
  • Broken pavement
  • Cracked tiles
  • Improperly placed concrete parking turtles
  • Slippery surfaces
  • Puddled liquid – due to rain, leaking pipes, spilled engine fluids or a combination

These situations can lead to an overturned wheelchair spilling its occupant onto the hard concrete surface. Additionally, slippery areas can lead to a loss of traction that could send the wheelchair careening down an incline to collide with a wall, guardrail or oncoming vehicle. Any of these scenarios can mean broken bones, head trauma or crush injuries for wheelchair occupants.

Property owners have a duty to ensure the safety of anyone who uses a parking structure. Whether this is residents of a high-rise complex or shoppers in a large mall, the property owners must maintain the parking garage at all times. Often this requires the use of a construction contractor and a janitorial staff. Not only must the staff clean up spills, correct broken pavement and ensure the structure is well lit, but they must ensure wheelchair-accessible ramps are functioning, and specially-designated parking spots are painted and clean of debris.

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