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General LiabilityWhen you rent a store in a shopping plaza, the rules on who is responsible for the parking lot will vary. It's important to understand your obligations at that location so that you can have the general liability insurance that you need.

Check Your Lease

Your lease should spell out how much control you have over the parking lot and who is responsible for maintenance. For example, some leases might say that each store has exclusive rights to the spots in front of their storefront, and that each store is responsible for routine maintenance. Other leases will treat the parking lot as a common area that the landlord's staff has sole responsibility for.

The reason this is important is that it establishes your duties to prevent injuries. If you're responsible for snow shoveling and someone slips on slush after you don't shovel, you will probably be liable for their injuries. If your landlord is responsible for snow shoveling, they would be responsible for that slip-and-fall risk instead.

Control Your Shopping Carts And Other Equipment

Even if you have no responsibility for the state of the parking lot, you may still be responsible for your equipment in it. If a runaway shopping cart barrels over an old lady, a lawyer might argue that you should have been collecting carts sooner. The reason that you're not off the hook — even if the parking lot isn't your responsibility — is that you've allowed your physical property into the parking lot. That means you need to take reasonable steps to make sure it doesn't cause injuries.

Customers Can Still Sue You

Landlord's parking lot or not, if someone gets hurt coming to your store, they're probably going to sue you. In many cases, they can win and then leave you to recover from your landlord under your lease agreements. In other cases, you might win — but you would still have to pay your lawyers to defend you. Having your own general liability insurance can protect you against either scenario.
Posted 11:17 AM

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