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Who is Liable When a Car Crashes into a Business?

outdoor patio of a restaurant

Most of us don’t worry about being involved in car crashes when we aren’t in a vehicle. Unfortunately, pedestrians who are shopping or sitting down to eat at a restaurant are injured every day when a car crashes into a business. Injuries sustained from such an incident can be severe, and the path to compensation is often complex. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you determine liability and get justice.


The Storefront Safety Initiative estimates that 100 incidents of car crashes into commercial spaces occur in the United States every day. Those collisions injure roughly 16,000 people and kill 240 people annually. Just days ago, multiple people were injured when a woman drove her car into a Fayetteville Chipotle.

In another recent case, a man was arrested for allegedly intentionally driving into the outdoor seating area of a Fayetteville restaurant. Police determined the 22-year-old driver got into an altercation with patrons outside the restaurant before getting into his truck and crashing into the outdoor seating area. The driver, who appeared to be under the influence, reversed the car back into the seating area to hit the patrons a second time. Three people were injured, two of them requiring hospitalization.

Whether intentional or unintentional, if you are injured when a car crashes into a business, you deserve justice.                             


The most common cause of vehicles crashing into buildings is operator error. This includes driving too fast, being unable to react to road conditions or other vehicles, distracted driving, and falling asleep at the wheel. Other causes include:

  • Pedal errors – A driver mistakes the gas pedal for the brake pedal.
  • Impairment – Drivers under the influence of drugs and alcohol are far less likely to react quickly to errors.
  • Medical emergency – A driver has a serious medical condition, such as a heart attack or stroke, causing them to lose control of the vehicle.
  • Intent to Cause Harm – In rare cases, a driver intentionally tries to harm a business’s customers or employees.

Proving Liability

Establishing personal injury liability means proving an individual or company acted negligently and caused harm. You must prove that the driver’s actions were negligent and resulted in the accident and your injuries. In North Carolina, the concept of “contributory negligence” complicates personal injury recovery. This rule can bar injured parties from recovering damages if they are found to be even 1% at fault for their injuries. For this reason, it’s essential to have an attorney by your side to fight for you.

Legal professionals will investigate the crash and all parties involved for evidence of liability. In most cases, your attorney will pursue the driver who crashed into a business for damages. Other parties who may be held liable include:

  • Vehicle owner – If the at-fault driver borrowed the vehicle from someone else, the vehicle’s owner may be liable for the damages. Even if the car was taken by someone in the same household without the owner’s permission, the owner may still be considered responsible. A good example is if the car keys were left in an area accessible by someone with a suspended license or an unlicensed teenage driver. In such a case, the owner may be vicariously liable for the accident.
  • Business owner – In cases where the at-fault driver was using a vehicle provided by their employer, the employer’s insurance carrier may be held responsible.
  • Vehicle manufacturer – If a mechanical failure caused the accident, your attorney could pursue damages from the manufacturer.

An experienced car accident attorney can help you identify all liable parties in your case.


Victims may be entitled to recover various damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and property damage. In rare cases, your lawyer will pursue punitive damages- monetary punishment for the at-fault driver.

Representation After a Car Crash Into a Business

If you or a loved one have been injured by a vehicle crashing into a business, you don’t have to navigate the legal system alone. It’s essential to consult with a personal injury attorney who can evaluate your case, establish liability, and negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf. Contact Maginnis Howard for a consultation to understand your legal options and ensure that your rights are protected. Our experienced team is dedicated to helping you recover the damages you deserve. We have three conveniently located offices in Raleigh, Fayetteville, and Charlotte.