Venturing onto someone else's property – whether it is your neighbor's yard or the aisles of the local supermarket – is usually perfectly safe to do. However, there may be times when it is not, and you fail to notice the danger until it is too late. By then, you may already have slipped and fallen and suffered a significant injury.
Slip and fall injuries like these happen all the time, and the results can be serious. Luckily, New Jersey's personal injury law recognizes that landowners can be held accountable for the injuries that they cause through premises liability. Filing one of these lawsuits can be the best way to get you back on your feet. The personal injury attorneys at Kim & Feliz can help.
What are Slip and Fall Cases?
A “slip and fall” is a colloquial term for the kinds of cases that happen when you get hurt by a dangerous condition on someone else's property. Situations like these cover a huge variety of hazards, including:
- Broken stairs
- Uneven pavement
- Cracks in pavement
- Weak railings
- Rotten floorboards
- Sunken lawns
- Protruding corners
- Rolled-up carpets
- Slippery floors
- Icy walkways
In each one of these cases, there is a danger that you might not notice until you have, often literally, stumbled on it. Once you have lost your footing, even the most athletic among us can fall to the ground in ways that can cause serious injuries to our knees, wrists, elbows, head, or back. These injuries can be quite severe, especially for elderly victims, that require extensive and costly medical attention before a full recovery can be made.
Slip and fall cases can be very frustrating for victims because there was often very little that they could have done to avoid the situation in the first place. In many cases, the hazard was hidden or difficult to notice.
Because you were powerless to protect yourself, it would be unfair to hold you accountable for your injuries. This is where New Jersey's premises liability law can work in your favor.
Premises Liability Law in New Jersey
When you venture onto someone else's property, you have rights. The strength of those rights depends on the nature of the property and whether you are on the grounds with the permission of the owner.
In New Jersey, these factors determine whether you were a trespasser, a licensee, or an invitee.
A trespasser is someone who was on the property without the owner's permission. New Jersey law states that property owners do not have any duty of care toward trespassers except to avoid willfully injuring them. However, landowners do have to take reasonable measures to protect children from getting hurt on their property, especially when the danger is something that is likely to attract them -- for example, a swimming pool.
A licensee is someone who is on the property with the owner's permission or invitation, but who is not financially or economically benefiting the owner through his or her presence. An example of a licensee is a dinner guest.
Property owners are required under New Jersey's premises liability law to warn licensees of dangerous conditions that the owner is already aware of. If the owner fails to do this and the licensee gets hurt by a hazard on the property, the owner could be held liable for the licensee's injuries.
Finally, invitees are people who are on the property for the owner's financial benefit. For example, shoppers in a grocery store are the invitees of that store.
Invitees have the most rights of all people: Property owners have to warn invitees of any dangerous conditions that they know about or of hazardous conditions which by the exercise of reasonable care, they could have known about. This means property owners have a duty to keep the premises safe, which may include conducting regular inspections to seek out dangerous conditions on their premises.
Who Can Be Held Accountable in a Slip and Fall Case?
In premises liability cases, there are a wide variety of potentially culpable parties who could be held accountable for your injuries.
Parties responsible for a property's maintenance and upkeep can be held liable for slip and fall injuries. These can include property owners, property managers, maintenance companies, tenants, custodians, and state and/or local governments and municipalities.
Filing a Slip and Fall Lawsuit
Filing a personal injury lawsuit for a slip and fall case in New Jersey is similar to other personal injury claims in that it has to be initiated within two years of the incident, or it will be time-barred by the statute of limitations.
The initial document that has to be filed is the complaint, which is the result of an in-depth investigation into your injury and the exact circumstances in which it occurred. Once the complaint is filed and the defendant is notified, there will be a long process where each side collects evidence and settlement offers/demands may be exchanged. If no settlement is reached, the case can proceed all the way to trial, where your lawyer will present your best case and argue that you deserve to be compensated for what you have been put through by the defendant's negligence.
Slip and Fall Attorneys at Kim & Feliz
If you have slipped, fallen, and gotten hurt while on someone else's property, you deserve to be compensated for what you have gone through. The personal injury and premises liability lawyers at Kim & Feliz are more than up to the task. With our help, you can get the financial assistance you need to make a full recovery without putting your livelihood at risk. Contact our attorneys online or call our New Jersey law offices at (201) 585-2250.