As you’re going about your daily life, you don’t expect to fall down and get hurt. Unfortunately, too often, people throughout New Jersey suffer serious injuries in slip and fall accidents. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 800,000 people a year are hospitalized due to falls.
Sometimes, these falls are just an accident – like if you tripped over a loose rug in your own home. But other times, a person fell because a property owner failed to maintain their property in a safe manner. In this situation, you may be able to file a specific type of personal injury lawsuit known as a premises liability claim.
Bross & Frankel is dedicated to fighting for the rights of injury victims. Our law firm has extensive experience helping people get the compensation that they deserve for their injuries. We offer free initial consultations for all prospective clients, and never charge a fee unless we recover money for you.
How Do Slip and Falls Happen?
Slip and fall accidents can happen almost anywhere, at any time. Our law office represents clients who have gotten injured due to:
- Failure to clear snow and ice
- Wet and/or slippery floors
- Debris or clutter in walkways
- Spills in stores
- Holes in pavement or parking lots
- Uneven surfaces, including loose or damaged tiles
- Insufficient lighting
- Broken or missing handrails
These are just some examples of common hazards that may cause a slip and fall. There are a number of other ways that a person might suffer a fall injury, particularly at work.
Slip and falls can cause serious or even catastrophic injuries. A fall may cause broken bones, bruises, traumatic brain injury (TBI), neck and back injuries, spinal cord injuries, and even internal organ damage. If a person dies as a result of a fall injury, their loved ones may be able to pursue compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit.
While each case is different, a person who is hurt in a fall may be able to get financial compensation from the property owner’s insurance company, typically through a settlement or sometimes, at trial. Importantly, this money is paid by the property owner’s insurance – either a homeowner’s insurance policy or rental insurance. In other words, if you trip and fall at a friend’s house, you won’t be pursuing a claim against them – but their insurance company.
If you are hurt in a fall, you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible. This can help you get a diagnosis and the right care for your injuries. When you are able to do so, reach out to a New Jersey slip and fall lawyer to schedule a free case evaluation, where you can learn more about your options for filing a claim.
How Can You Sue for a Slip and Fall
Premises liability cases are a type of personal injury case. To win a slip and fall lawsuit, you must demonstrate four things:
- A dangerous condition existed on the property;
- The property owner or occupier knew or reasonably should have known that the hazardous condition existed;
- The owner or occupier had a reasonable time to address the dangerous condition or to warn visitors of the risk, but failed to do so; and
- As a result of this failure, you suffered injuries from a fall.
One of the most important aspects of a premises liability case is showing that the property owner knew or should have known about the dangerous condition, and then failed to fix it or warn visitors about it. Consider a case where a customer at a grocery store slipped and fell on spilled liquid. If the customer fell shortly after the spill happened, before any store employees knew about it or had a chance to clean it up, they may not have a viable injury claim. However, if the store knew about the spill and didn’t clean it up or put up a “wet floor” sign to warn customers until it could be cleaned up, they may be liable for the customer’s injuries.
New Jersey law makes a distinction between different types of visitors to a property. Specifically, property owners and occupiers owe a higher duty of care to people who were lawfully on their premises at the time of the fall.
The highest duty of care is due to invitees, who are people who come onto a property to do business. Property owners who invite the public to enter their property to do business must do more than just fix or warn of known hazards – they must be on the lookout for any issues, and then repair and warn of them.
Licensees are people who have a right to enter and remain on the property with the consent of the owner, such as social guests. Owners of private property owe licensees a standard duty of care, so they must fix or warn of known hazardous conditions.
Finally, trespassers are people who are on a property illegally. Generally, the only duty that property owners have to trespassers is to not do anything purposefully that will injure trespassers. However, if the property owner has an attractive nuisance on their land – such as a swimming pool or a trampoline – that may entice a child to enter, they have a duty to eliminate the danger or to install proper safeguards.
In some cases, the property owner may try to argue that you were somehow responsible for your fall injury. For example, if you were looking at your phone at the time that you tripped on a loose carpet, the property owner and their insurer might argue that you were partially to blame.
Even if you share some responsibility for the fall, that doesn’t mean that you cannot recover for your injuries. New Jersey follows the rule of comparative negligence. This means that as long as you were not more than 50% at fault for the accident, you can still recover for your losses.
However, your total recovery will be reduced by the percentage that you were at fault. For example, if you suffered $20,000 in injuries after falling down a set of stairs at an office building, but you were 10% at fault, your total recovery would be reduced by 10%. Instead of getting $20,000, you would be entitled to $18,000.
In a slip and fall claim, you may be able to recover money for your medical bills, lost wages, future medical care, reduced earning capacity, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and more. A skilled personal injury attorney will work to establish the property owner’s negligence for your fall, as well as demonstrate that you suffered damages as a result of the fall.
How Long Does a Slip and Fall Case Take?
Each slip and fall case is unique. While some may settle in just a few months, others are more complex or have less straightforward facts. In this situation, it could take a year or more to resolve a slip and fall claim.
At a free consultation, a New Jersey slip and fall attorney will listen to your story and then explain your legal rights and options for pursuing a claim. They may also be able to give you a ballpark estimate of how long it will take to settle your case, as well as an estimated value of your claim.
How Long Do You Have to File a Slip and Fall Lawsuit in New Jersey?
Under New Jersey law, you have up to 2 years to file a lawsuit after a fall injury. This is known as the statute of limitations. If you don’t file your claim within this period of time, then it will be barred.
Although there are exceptions to the statute of limitations, there are other good reasons to consider filing a claim immediately after a slip and fall accident. For example, evidence is usually more readily available and witness memories are typically fresher when you file a claim sooner. You can reach out to a personal injury law firm for a free case evaluation to start the process.
Should You Get a Lawyer for a Slip and Fall?
If you have been hurt in a slip and fall, you may be tempted to just pay for your expenses out of pocket, or take whatever settlement the insurance company offers you. In many cases, doing so can cost you a significant amount of money.
A lawyer can evaluate your case and determine if the property owner’s negligence caused your fall injury. If so, they will work with you to develop a strong case for compensation – and work to make sure that you get the maximum amount possible. Hiring an attorney can also help to smooth over sometimes tricky issues that may arise when you file a claim against a friend or family member’s insurance company.
How We Can Help
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, you may be reluctant to pursue a claim against the property owner or occupier. However, if you have suffered losses from your fall, then you may have a right to money to pay for those losses. A seasoned personal injury lawyer can help you with the process and get you the compensation that you deserve.
The law firm of Bross and Frankel represents accident victims throughout New Jersey who have been injured in slip and falls and other types of accidents. We handle all personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you won’t pay a fee unless we recover money for you. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation with a New Jersey personal injury lawyer, contact us today at 856-795-8880 or fill out our online contact form.