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Slip and Fall Liability

New Jersey Slip and Fall Lawyers | Console & Associates P.C.

After your injury, you can file a personal injury claim to recover the damages caused by your slip, trip, or fall. However, identifying who is responsible for your slip and fall isn’t always as clear as it seems.

Many retail locations rent the land they operate on. In some cases, they might also pay for another company to keep that property safe. For a slip and fall claim to be successful, your attorney will need to identify the correct responsible party.

Proving Liability

In order for someone to be liable for a slip and fall injury you’ve sustained on someone else’s property, at least one of the following factors must be true:

  • The owner or an employee of the premises must have caused the unsafe circumstance (spill, tear in a carpet, worn spot, dangerous or slippery surface)
  • The owner or an employee of the premises must have been made aware of the unsafe surface and not done anything to fix it
  • Dangerous circumstance should have been apparent to the owner or an employee of the premises because a “reasonable” property manager would have seen it and addressed it

Who Is Responsible For Ice & Snow Safety?

winter slip and fall ice snowProperty owners and businesses can’t control the weather, and the law does not expect them to. However, they do have the responsibility to keep their land and buildings reasonably safe. If they don’t, they are liable for the damages their negligence caused. How courts determine, at fault, parties changes depending on who owns the property.

 

Residential Properties
Private property owners enjoy limited protection under state and federal law. During a snow or ice storm, they’re typically not liable for any injuries if they are making a good faith effort to keep their property safe.

If the dangerous condition is visible to people passing by and cleaned in a reasonable amount of time, they may not be liable. For example, property owners aren’t expected to go out in the middle of a snowstorm to clear sidewalks or melt ice. If you’re walking during the middle of the storm, the law assumes you will take steps to stay safe.

But if the property owner is negligent in maintaining their property, they can be liable. For example, if the homeowner makes some effort to remove the hazardous condition but does not do an adequate job, they may be liable. Or if they have a leaky pipe on their property and do not completely repair the pipe and remove the ice, this could be construed as negligent. Counties and cities could have different regulations that govern what a “reasonable” amount of time is.

Property owners, liability for injuries caused by a slip and fall on snow or ice is usually based on the cause of the dangerous condition.

Commercial (Business) Properties

Unlike residential property, businesses have more responsibility to keep their locations safe. Under the law, businesses are inviting you on to their property to make a profit. As a result, they are legally kept to a higher standard of safety.

This is particularly true if they stay open during a storm. They have to make a reasonable attempt at safety, but their definition of “reasonable” is stricter than a homeowner’s. This doesn’t mean filing a claim against a business is easy, however.

Many businesses do not own the property they operate in, leasing it instead. If this is the case, it is usually the property manager, not the business who is responsible. In most cases, the party responsible for snow removal contracts the job out to a third party. Your attorney must determine who is responsible, which depends on the contractual relationship between the business, the property manager, and the 3rd party contractor.

Government Properties
When you’re injured on property belonging to the state, county, or municipality, the process is a little bit different. In both New Jersey and Pennsylvania, injured plaintiffs must file a “tort claim notice” with the entity.

This notifies the governmental entity of the claim and gives them the opportunity to do their own evaluation of the claim before too much time has passed. Depending on the entity, you may be required to file the tort claim notice within as little as 90 days of your injury.

Failure to file the tort claim notice could lead to you never being able to bring a claim.

Comparative Fault
Even when you’re hurt, it’s hard not to feel embarrassed after a slip and fall. Hindsight is 20/20, and it’s easy to try and put some of the blame on yourself. However, according to the law, even if you are partially responsible for your injury, you have the right to make a claim. This is a legal determination known as comparative fault.

How much responsibility you bear for the injury helps determine how much your claim is worth. Typically, the more the other party is at fault, the more you’re entitled to.

This is another reason it’s always a good idea to speak with a personal injury attorney. They’ll help to make sure that your claim is not reduced or denied because of some partial liability on your part.

Slip And Fall Accident Attorneys

Console and Associates Slip and Fall Attorneys

For 25 years, Console and Associates has helped our clients successfully resolve their slip and fall claims. Their winter accidents left them serious injuries, which is why we fought so hard to get them the settlement they needed. A personal injury claim is about getting your life back on track.

Determining liability is an important step to building a successful claim. If you’re in pain after slip, trip, or fall, see a doctor immediately. Left untreated, those minor injuries can quickly turn into life-altering pain. After speaking with your doctor, call us and speak with an attorney. You will get better.




Disclaimer: Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances.

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This article was professionally reviewed by Richard P Console Jr, an attorney licensed to practice in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Mr. Console has more than twenty years experience practicing personal injury law and successfully resolving vehicle accident claims on behalf of his clients.

Learn more About Richard P Console Jr.

While this information was reviewed for accuracy, it should not be considered legal advice. Every claim is different. If you are thinking of pursuing a personal injury claim and have a question contact us directly. 

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