On July 13, a woman attempting to park in a downtown Austin parking garage breached the steel retention cables at the end of the garage. She then plunged five to seven stories to the ground below, suffering serious, but not life-threatening injuries. If this sounds familiar, that’s because it has happened before. Less than a year ago, in fact.
In September of 2016, a 24-year-old man was parking on the ninth floor of a downtown parking garage. Unable to stop his car, he breached the steel retention cables and plunged into the open air. However, the steel cables caught on his tires and managed to stop the car from falling. He was able to climb out of the car and into the parking garage, escaping uninjured.
Stranger still, both incidents happened at the same parking garage.
Can the Garage Owner Be Liable?
After the second incident, city officials said that the first incident had not sparked a comprehensive city review of the parking structure and its cable safety system. Now that it has happened again, a member of the Austin City Council said that it requires a harder look from officials.
Who is at fault for these incidents? After the first one, it would be hard for the owner to argue that this was not foreseeable. Failure to address an obviously hazardous condition could mean that the garage owners may be liable for the injuries that the woman suffered in the fall, under the doctrine of premises liability.