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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70200
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I was in an outside (not multi-storey or underground) car park

Resolved Question:

I was in an outside (not multi-storey or underground) car park earlier on today, driving a high-roofed Ford Transit. I sought out the car park as being the most suitable, as it did not have a height restriction barrier in place at the entrance, and therefore assumed that there was no problem with parking a tall vehicle there.
Upon departing from the car park, I noticed bright-yellow height restriction barrier in place at the exit (yet none at the entrance). There was no signage on the barrier to indicate the maximum vehicle height that could pass underneath. In addition, the barrier was far taller than the "standard" height of 2.0m in place at most car parks in the area (the barrier came far above the height of my windscreen, and I estimated [due to lack of signage] my vehicle would pass through without problem).
I considered turning the vehicle around, and driving out the entrance, however, realised that this would potentially cause danger to others in the vicinity, due to the one-way system in place.
Therefore, I proceeded to drive forwards to find that, not only did my vehicle not fit, but in attempting to exit the car park, I had substantially damaged my vehicle as a result.
The only way I was able to eventually leave the car park was to drive the van out of the car park entrance.
I would like to know, based on these circumstances:
Is the car park owner/operator liable for the damages to my vehicle?
By failing to provide adequate signage, is there a breach of any laws or legislation?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Hi.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
What danger would it cause to others in the vicinity if you had turned around?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The car park was quite small, and the vehicle I was driving was a Long Wheelbase Ford Transit. There is limited visibility behind the vehicle and it is not fitted with parking sensors. So, at the very least, there is an increased risk of hitting a pedestrian or another vehicle queuing behind me.

Aside from this, there was also the obvious risk associated with driving the wrong way around a car park one-way system, as the width of the road inside the car park is only large enough for one vehicle to pass.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Is there any sign at the entrance do indicate that there is a height restriction?
Is the physical height restriction only at the exit?
Is your vehicle unusually high?
Was there anything at the entrance to the car park to indicate the commercial vehicles were not allowed?
Are you saying that you passed under the height restriction barrier at the exit but still damage the vehicle roof as the car park roof was actually lower than height restriction barrier?
I need to establish the mechanics of exactly what happened
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Is there any sign at the entrance do indicate that there is a height restriction?

No, there were no signs at the entrance to indicate a maximum height restriction in the car park (hence choosing it).

Is the physical height restriction only at the exit?

Yes. They physical height restriction was only in place at the exit.

Is your vehicle unusually high?

The vehicle is a High Roof Long Wheelbase Ford Transit. So, it is no higher than a minibus or vehicle of a similar height.

You can see an example here.

Was there anything at the entrance to the car park to indicate the commercial vehicles were not allowed?

No. There were also other commercial vehicles parked in the car park, near the entrance.

Are you saying that you passed under the height restriction barrier at the exit but still damage the vehicle roof as the car park roof was actually lower than height restriction barrier

No. There was no roof to the car park. It was an open topped ground level car park. (Not multi-storey and not underground)

I damaged the top part of the front slope of the van- so there was no way to physically fit through the barrier (I found this out after colliding with it). I had to turn the van around and drive out through the entrance after finding the van wouldn't fit.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Thanks.
I will look at this now.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
The chances are the chances are that even if you are successful in suing the car park company in negligence for not having a height restriction sign at the entrance, your claim would be substantially reduced possibly by 50% or even more firstly because there doesn't necessarily have to be a height restriction sign and secondly because it is not the car park company fault that you tried to go under the 2nd sign. I understand that at that stage you were committed but it was your decision.
If you had been driving a double-decker bus that doesn't necessarily have to be a height restriction sign and as you are driving a hightop transit van and not just an ordinary transit van, they are extraordinarily high, and hire the most other vehicles apart from large goods vehicles.
You can of course write to the car parking company and ask them to pay for the damage but I think they are unlikely to pay up.
There is another issue which unfortunately doesn't help you and that is that whilst it may have been dangerous to turn round and go the wrong way out of the car park, you did that in the end and got out so whilst it may have been inconvenient or even dangerous, it was not impossible.
It would certainly be worthwhile seeing what the car park company have to say but if you do take them to court, I think it could be 50-50 as to whether you win or not.
I'm sorry if this is answer is unfavourable for you.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Jo
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Jo,

Thanks for helping point me in the right direction.

Can it not be argued that the car park company has a duty of care, in so far that if a one-way system and height restriction is in place, then a height barrier or sign at the entrance should be installed and clearly visible?

The exit was not visible from the entrance. So there was no way to determine whether one could leave the car park in the appropriate manor upon entering.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
They do owe a duty of care but that doesn't have to involve a sign.
Ultimately, sadly, you were the driver of a hightop transit and the obligation is yours to assess whether or not your vehicle can negotiate any particular route.
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