Sudden slips and falls are frequently cause for a little more than a moment of embarrassment and a bruise or two. But sometimes a slip or fall is serious, and can leave you with severe injuries that require major medical attention. Many people brush off the fact that no matter where they fell, be it a local restaurant, grocery store, or on the stairs of your apartment building, it’s possible that the owner of the property could be to blame. Although New Jersey property owners have an obligation to keep their premises safe for visitors, this is unfortunately not always the case and serious injuries frequently occur because a property owner has failed to keep their property free of hazards. Below I’ll tell you more about how to determine whether a property owner is responsible for your injuries and when to seek legal help from a Passaic County personal injury lawyer.
Understanding Premises Liability Law
New Jersey premises liability law covers a variety of accidents caused by dangerous conditions on a property. But just because you fell on someone’s property does not necessarily mean they will be held responsible. Before any blame can be assigned, negligence must be proven.
In order to hold a property owner responsible for the situation, a dangerous condition must have caused your injuries and the property owner must have acted negligently. In a court of law, this usually comes down to common sense. A judge will consider whether the property owner took reasonable steps to keep their property safe, such as cleaning up a wet floor or repairing a flap of loose carpet. If the judge finds that the owner didn’t take these steps, the person could be considered negligent.
For example, if a property owner was aware of a dangerous condition (such as ice on a sidewalk or a broken stair that caused a trip) but did not make an effort to correct it, they could be held responsible for your injuries. In addition, if the property owner should have known about the hazard and taken the steps to repair or correct it, but did not, they could be held liable.
Other Factors in Determining Fault
Some other questions that are often asked to determine negligence include how long the hazard existed and whether the property owner had a reasonable amount of time to fix it, if the actions they took to correct the dangerous situation were reasonable, and whether the victim in any way contributed to the accident by their own carelessness.
In the state of New Jersey, comparative negligence laws are in place so that if you were injured, but were in any way responsible for your injuries, you will be held partially responsible. For example, if you ignored or did not see a visible warning sign, were texting at the time of your slip on the stairs, were wearing inappropriate footwear for the premises, or something similar, the compensation you receive from the property owner could be reduced.
The good news, however, is that under New Jersey Statutes section 2A:15-5.1, unless the injured party’s negligence is determined to be over 50 percent, they can still recover a percentage of the compensation. For example, if a jury finds that you are 30 percent responsible for your slip or fall, the damages owed by the property owner will be reduced by 30 percent.
Working with a Lawyer
Proving that a property owner’s negligence caused your slip or fall can often be difficult, so it is typically a good idea to work with a New Jersey personal injury lawyer rather than going it alone. At Bavagnoli & Bavagnoli, our Passaic County personal injury lawyers offer free consultations and can help you understand whether or not you have a case. If you do have a strong case, we will work to get the best possible outcome for your case. We do this by using a collaborative team approach, thoroughly examining every aspect of your accident, and doing everything we can to get you the compensation you need to fully recover from your injuries.
To find out more about whether your slip or fall injuries may have been caused by property owner negligence, contact us today at 973-785-9522.