For many years, The Rotatori Law Firm has represented many personal injury clients who have fallen in retail store and/ or commercial parking lots. One of the most dangerous premises defects we have found is the parking lot wheel stop. The parking lot wheel stop is often found in parking lots at strip malls, commercial office buildings and grocery stores. You may see one at a Home Depot, Lowes or Shop Right.
The concept is simple. The wheel stop is made out of precast concrete. It is placed at the end of a parking lot stall. It is designed to keep an automobile, truck or any other motor vehicle from damaging a sidewalk or adjacent building wall. It is often designed to keep a plow away from a commercial building in the winter time.
The problem is that often, the precast concrete wheel stop serves no real useful purpose. Rather, it often obstructs what is known as the exit discharge under the building code causing a trip like hazard for parking lot users.
The typical concrete wheel stop often is often not centered within a parking lot stall, fails to give the patron access laterally to move in and out of his or her car, is often at odds with the elevation of an abutting sidewalk, is not color differentiated, exceeds the four inch height standard that is preferred by the Connecticut DOT. and may also be cracked, jagged and broken.
The sad fact about wheel stop useage is that there exists a much safer method of providing notice of an abutting sidewalk to users of a car or any other motor vehicle. The safer method is the use of either a plastic or concrete bollard. A bollard is basically a cylinder like upright stopping device. Jokingly, you could say that it looks like a torpedo. It usually is painted yellow and the more modern retail facilities have them designed in to their parking lot lay outs. The key is that it takes up very small ground space. This reduces the probability that a patron will trip, get a leg caught, a cane caught or wheel chair caught on a six foot long wheel stop that impedes the use of an exit discharge under the building code.
Many concrete wheel stops and wheel stop designs account for many falls and many personal injuries. Often, children and the elderly will fracture an arm, tear knee cartilage, break a hip or tear a rotator cuff at the shoulder joint all because of a defective parking lot wheel stop that incorporates a bad structural parking lot design. To be frank, the solution is wheel stop elimination. However, if a stopping device is absolutely required, the lay out should incorporate a yellow painted bollard. A society that disfavors the wheel stop is is the American Society for Testing and Materials. This society sets a national standard that considers the wheel stop as extremely unsafe and dangerous.
This author agrees that a concrete wheel stop serves more harm then good. Often, the wheel stop fails in its purpose to keep an automobile or other motor vehicle off of an abutting sidewalk. Usually, the front of the motor vehicle travels well over the wheel stop with the wheel stop serving no viable purpose for safety.
If you or a loved one has suffered a slip and fall in a parking lot caused by a dangerous wheel stop or a defective premises wheel stop layout, feel free to contact our office. We would be happy to talk to you to determine if a premises liability investigation is warranted and a personal injury claim is worth prosecuting.
The Rotatori Law Firm hopes that this brief discussion about the dangers of prefab concrete wheel stops is helpful in providing parking lot users with a heads up when they use a commercial parking lot. If you have suffered injuries, our Stamford injury lawyer can discuss your next steps.