Slip And Fall Accidents
In New Jersey, when you are visiting a department store, restaurant, museum or other places open and accessible to the public, you have a right to be free from hazardous conditions or to be warned about the presence of such conditions.
Slip and fall accidents come under premises liability law and principles. The law imposes a duty on business owners to regularly inspect their property for conditions that could harm someone, and for homeowners to warn visitors and guests of dangerous conditions.
If you are on commercial property, you are considered an invitee and entitled to broad protection from hazardous conditions. You have slightly less protection if you are on private property and are a licensee, such as guests or meter readers. Even if you are a trespasser, you are still entitled to some protection.
Examples of Slip and Fall Accidents
Some common examples of slip and fall accidents include:
- Slippery surfaces
- Loose steps
- Lack of handrails or guardrails
- Faulty ladder
- Snow or icy covered parking lots and sidewalks
- Slippery surfaces
- Inadequate lighting
Responsibility for Slip and Fall Accidents
Prove Negligent Conduct
To maintain an injury claim for premises liability or a slip and fall against a property owner, you must prove negligence. If a hazard existed and it was created by the owner or employee, there may be liability. Also, if the hazard was present long enough to have given the owner or employee notice of its existence or was known to exist by the owner who failed to remedy it, then negligent conduct might also be imputed to the owner.
A common injury claim is slipping and falling on a wet surface in a grocery or department store. These businesses make periodic inspections of their premises, but are only liable if they had actual or constructive notice of the hazard. Actual notice is direct knowledge of the hazard by either observing it or having someone advise you. Constructive notice is having the hazard present for a sufficient period so that the owner should reasonably have been aware of its existence.
You can also show negligence if the hazard, such as lack of handrails, insufficient lighting or buckling of steps or stairs was in violation of the applicable building code.
New Jersey business owners are responsible if a hazardous condition caused an accident or if they or an employee created the hazard, or if they knew about the hazard and did not fix it or warn about it
Homeowners do not have a duty to regularly inspect their property, but if they are aware of a hazard that creates an unreasonable risk of harm, they do have a duty to you, as a licensee or social guest, to warn you of the danger if you could not have reasonably discovered it. This could include the lack of outside lighting on stairs or a defective step or floorboard.
Trespassers are not authorized to be on certain property, but property owners may not create a condition such as a trap that could harm anyone without knowledge of the trap. This could be considered excessive force and expose the landowner to criminal charges as well as civil damages.
Weather Related Accidents
New Jersey has long and brutal winters at times. When it snows, commercial property owners must undertake reasonable steps to plow steps, sidewalks and parking lots where their customers or patrons are known to use. They should also use salt or sand on sidewalks or entranceways and to place warning signs regarding slippery conditions.
If you slip and fall on commercial property after a snowfall or an icy evening and no effort was made to make the surface safe, you may have an injury claim.
Open and Obvious Hazards
A common defense to a slip and fall is that you should have been aware of the danger since it was open and obvious and you failed to take steps to care for your own safety. You do have a duty to use caution and not to walk around distracted such as texting while walking into a huge pothole.
If you are a property owner, be aware of the liability laws and take care to ensure your property is free of unreasonable hazards by regularly conducting inspections or warning guests or visitors of hazards. If you are guest or invitee who was injured, contact a New Jersey personal injury lawyer about your legal rights and options.