Are Outdoor Diners Trading One Risk for Another?

Posted on behalf of RizkLaw on Aug 13, 2020 in Auto Accident

outdoor dining on the streetAround the country, restaurants have been permitted to set up more outdoor dining opportunities to protect would-be customers and help keep these businesses running. However, could al fresco customers be trading one risk for another?

Below, Rizk Law discusses recent reports involving vehicles crashing into buildings and sidewalk crowds. If you have been injured by a negligent driver while walking, dining, or driving, we welcome the opportunity to help. Learn more in a free consultation with one of our Portland car accident lawyers.

Outdoor Dining Amid COVID-19

The increased outdoor restaurant space is providing customers a much-needed opportunity to enjoy a night out of dining amid ongoing pandemic concerns about eating indoors. In general, this is also giving restaurants a boost that may help many to survive the economic disaster created by the COVID-19 virus.

Many cities around the country are allowing restaurants to set up tables in the open air where there is a reduced risk of transmitting the virus. Restaurant owners have even obtained special permission to put tables in unusual locations, such as parking lots, sidewalks, and designated, fenced-in areas on the streets. This alternative is helping to keep some restaurants from having to close their doors.

Upward Spike of Car into Crowd Accidents

According to a USA today report, there have been more incidents of vehicles crashing into crowds or buildings across the U.S since the post-pandemic reopening of restaurants. The group providing these informally tracked numbers, Storefront Safety Council, gathers its data from police reports and other media.

To date, the Storefront Safety Council has reported approximately 20 cases, across the country, of a car or truck plowing into an outdoor dining area. Over the last eight years, the average number has been just four per year.

Rob Reiter, co-founder of the Storefront Safety Council, said, “Clearly we are already seeing a big spike in an eight-week span.”

Recent Car-into-Crowd Accidents

On August 7, 2020, a police chase in Cincinnati, Ohio, crossed the Roebling Suspension Bridge, and crashed into diners at a restaurant in Newport, Kentucky. A couple, dining at the café, were killed when the suspect’s car jumped the curb. Two others were injured. 

Statistics show that tables placed near or in streets are clearly the most vulnerable to these types of incidents. On July 5 in New York City, a driver crashed into customers dining outdoors at 12 Corazones restaurant in Queens, New York, injuring five people. In Brooklyn, a truck plowed into outdoor seating at the L’Wren restaurant.

Reiter commented, “The closer the proximity to traffic, the greater the risk will be.”

Can Safety Be Increased for Outdoor Dining?

Many cities and restaurant owners have taken steps to make outdoor dining in these areas as safe as possible.

Here are some of the measures being taken around the country:

  • Placing concrete sections, metal railings, water-filled dividers, or other types of barricades around outdoor seating areas
  • Improving visibility by using umbrellas, reflectors or other means
  • Limiting traffic in certain areas and reducing speed limits

Victor Manalo, formerly the mayor of Artesia, California, has concerns about any type of outdoor seating that is near streets or parking areas with moving vehicles. He has personal experience with the potential for sudden tragedy. His own mother-in-law was struck and killed in a parking lot in 2014 by an SUV that suddenly drove out of a parking space.

We Provide Legal Help After a Car Crash

No matter how many safety precautions restaurants take, it seems clear that some accidents will still happen.

At Rizk Law, we support the community, including these restaurants that are working to find ways to survive while providing a service to their customers. However, if a negligent driver injures you while you are driving, walking or dining, we are prepared to help you recover compensation for your injuries and other losses.

Our trusted attorneys have been helping Oregon’s injured victims for nearly twenty years. We are dedicated to helping our clients obtain maximum compensation. Learn more about the quality of our services by reading our client testimonies. If we represent you, we do not get paid unless, or until, you do. Call our firm at 503.245.5677 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation today.