Written by: Luis R. Gracia, Esq.
Stories of individuals crashing their vehicles into stores are neither new nor novel. In fact, it seems that incidents involving these types of crashes are becoming commonplace around the country and, specially, around Florida. Why do these incidents occur? Some would point to the age of the drivers. Others would blame driver fatigue or medical episodes. Mechanical defects in the vehicles involved could also account for these events. Regardless of the cause, the results are usually the same: Significant damages to the stores’ property and more importantly, to the customers that are on the receiving end of the vehicles crashing into the stores.
It is natural to point out that these types of accidents cannot be predicted. But no accident can truly be predicted. That does not mean that business and individuals have no duty to take measures to protect themselves or others from them and, in that way, minimize their resulting damages. Stores cannot predict when someone driving a vehicle will lose control and crash into their premises anymore than they can predict when a customer will drop water or other liquid substances on the floor, thus creating a dangerous condition for other unsuspecting shoppers. Yet, virtually all businesses that invite (and hope for) a large amount of consumer traffic to come into their stores not only plan but have procedures in place to minimize and hopefully, prevent slip and fall accidents. From training and instructing their employees to look for and clean potential dangerous conditions on their floors to placing mats in places that are prone for spills, store owners constantly take measures to keep their customers reasonably safe while in their premises. It is important to remember business owners have a duty to keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition. Shouldn’t store owners, in carrying out their duty of care towards their customers, take steps to either eliminate or reduce the damages that may result from vehicles crashing into their property? So, the questions is, why not place barriers or pillars between the parking area and the entrance or exit doors of the premises?
Concrete or metal pillars and barriers are being used more and more by store owners to protect their property and customers from out of control vehicles that may crash into their stores. It makes sense. Compared to the overall costs of building or renovating a store and, further, compared to damage that these incidents can cause, erecting these barriers seems to be a nominal expense that can have not only economic but human advantages as well. Simply stated, barriers cannot only save money; they can save lives. Wouldn’t that be money well spent? Those that have been injured by vehicles crashing into stores would most likely agree.
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