I just settled a significant case at trial, and I thought that I’d share a lesson that I learned in the case. We’re enduring a difficult winter, with an unusual volume of and ice. These conditions can lead to dangerous situations. One which you might not think about involves car washes. Car washes pose several dangers, including slip and fall hazards as well as pedestrian-vehicle hazards.

The slip and fall dangers are most obvious. Car washes use a lot of water, and that water is carried out of the building to the adjacent areas. Water freezes and becomes ice, making any car wash a potentially dangerous place in cold weather. Areas that appear to be wet may actually be icy, and dark asphalt may actually be black ice. You should use extreme caution when you’re near a car wash when temperatures are in the freezing range.

The second danger is less obvious. Most car washes have an area designated for the patrons to wait while their car is going through the wash. You should always remain in this safe area, and wait until you are called to your vehicle by the drying team. You are in danger while you are negotiating the area where cars are exiting the building. Always look first, and confirm that there is not a vehicle about to exit the building. Stop, look, and proceed to your vehicle when you are sure that the path to your car is clear. My client was struck by a car, driven by a car wash employee, which exited the building and made a sharp left turn, striking him as he walked to his car, even though my client had been directed to proceed to his car by the drying employees. Never rely on the direction of others when you are able to make observations yourself, and be very careful when you are at a car wash!