If you have been injured in a slip, trip, fall, or any other type of accident resulting from a dangerous condition on someone else’s property in New Jersey, recovering financial compensation for your injuries will likely involve filing a claim based on the law of premises liability. The basic concept of this law is simple: If you are injured due to the negligence or fault of a property owner or occupier, that property owner or occupier has a legal responsibility to compensate you for your injury-related losses.
An Overview of New Jersey’s Law of Premises Liability
Under New Jersey law, there are three scenarios in which a property owner or occupier can be held legally responsible for a dangerous property condition:
- The property owner or occupier directly caused the dangerous condition that led to your injury.
- The property owner or occupier was aware of the dangerous condition but failed to undertake reasonable efforts to fix it.
- The property owner or occupier should have been aware of the dangerous condition because a reasonable person would have discovered it and undertaken reasonable efforts to fix it.
This applies to both public and private properties. Regardless of where you were injured, under New Jersey law, the legal standards that apply are the same. However, a property owner’s or occupier’s legal responsibility will vary depending on why you were on the property at the time you were injured. Depending on the purpose of your visit, you will either be labeled as: (i) an invitee, (ii) a licensee, or (iii) a trespasser.
- Invitee (or Business Invitee) – If you were on the premises for the property owner’s or occupier’s business purposes (e.g., if you were shopping at a store or getting your driver’s license renewed at the Motor Vehicle Commission), then the owner or occupier owed a duty to inspect the property to ensure that it was safe.
- Licensee – If you were on the premises as a social guest (e.g., you were attending a party or other event that did not have a business purpose), then the owner or occupier had a duty to warn you of any dangerous conditions that it was unable to fix.
- Trespasser – If you were on the premises without the owner’s or occupier’s permission, then the owner or occupier had a duty not to create a dangerous condition intended to harm you.
In any case, the basic liability rules are the same for public and private entities, and both public and private entities can be held liable for the acts of their employees. Where premises liability claims against public and private entities differ, primarily relates to the steps involved in filing a claim.
Filing a Premises Liability Claim: Private Versus Public Property
1. Filing a Premises Liability Claim against a Private Property Owner or Occupier
Filing a premises liability claim against a private property owner or occupier (such as a business owner or the owner of a private residence) is similar to filing any other type of personal injury claim. Your attorney submits a demand, and the claim is typically handled by the owner’s or occupier’s insurance company. If the insurance company is convinced that its insured is liable and you submit adequate proof of your financial and non-financial losses, the insurance company may offer a settlement. If you accept the settlement, your case will be over. If the insurance company does not make a fair settlement offer, you will need to take your case to trial in order to recover just compensation.
2. Filing a Premises Liability Claim against a Government Entity for Injuries Sustained in Public Property
When dealing with an injury on public property, there are additional steps involved. In New Jersey, claims against government entities are subject to either the Federal Tort Claims Act or the New Jersey Tort Claims Act. Both of these laws impose procedural hurdles for filing a claim against the government, starting with a 90-day deadline to file what is called a “notice of claim.” Even though New Jersey has a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims, if you fail to file your notice of claim within 90 days, you may be barred from pursuing a case against the government for your slip, trip, or fall on public property.
Proving Your Premises Liability Case
Proving your premises liability case can be challenging. Many times, experts, such as engineers, are retained in order to establish that a dangerous condition on a property exists. The lawyers at Petro Cohen Petro Matarazzo are experienced in all types of slip and fall cases. They will take the time to listen to you and research every detail to ensure nothing is missed. Our team of personal injury lawyers will be with you every step of the way to assist you in recovering the compensation you deserve.
Speak with a New Jersey Premises Liability Attorney for Free
While premises liability incidents may not be as dramatic or as noticeable as other types of accidents, such as auto or airplane accidents, injuries sustained on another’s property can still result in life-threatening conditions that have long-term effects on both the injured party and his or her family. At Petro Cohen, we get that a serious personal injury not only affects you, but it affects everyone you love.
If you, a friend, or family member have suffered from an injury following a slip and fall accident, including broken bones, burns, electrical shocks, or head, spinal cord, neck, or other serious injuries, a premises liability attorney at Petro Cohen Petro Matarazzo can inform you of your legal rights. Our attorneys will work to hold the responsible parties accountable for your losses and help you seek the medical treatment you need and compensation you deserve.
Call us today at (888) 675-7607 or request an appointment online to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation. We work on a contingency fee basis, so you will only pay our legal expenses if we can successfully make a settlement on your behalf. The time is limited to pursue a claim in New Jersey, so it is important that you file your premise liability lawsuit within the statute of limitations