When you get injured on someone else’s property, proving liability is one of the keys to recovering just compensation. So, how do you do it?
What Does It Mean to “Prove Liability”?
We will start by explaining exactly what it means to “prove liability.” In New Jersey, slip and fall cases are governed by the law of negligence. If a property owner (or business owner that leases a commercial property) is negligent, and if this negligence causes you to slip and fall, then the property or business owner is liable for your injuries. Being liable simply means being financially responsible. So, if you slip and fall due to a property owner’s or business owner’s negligence, then the property or business owner is financially responsible for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other losses.
Negligence in Slip and Fall Cases
While the law of negligence governs all types of personal injury claims in New Jersey, there are some unique rules for slip and fall cases. Most importantly, the duty of care that property owners and business owners owe to visitors varies depending on why visitors are on their property. The basic rules are as follows:
- Invitees (i.e., business customers) – Property and business owners owe the highest duty of care to “invitees.” They must inspect their premises to ensure that the premises are safe and do not subject invitees to an unreasonable risk of injury.
- Licensees (i.e., social guests) – With regard to “licensees,” property and business owners have a duty to either repair or warn of known safety risks.
- Trespassers – With regard to “trespassers,” property and business owners only have a duty not to intentionally create dangerous conditions designed to cause injury.
As a result, individuals who are classified as “invitees” are the most likely to have premises liability claims arising out of slip and fall accidents, and “licensees” will have claims under many circumstances as well. Trespassers are unlikely to have claims except in certain specific circumstances. (That said, even if you are concerned that you may have been trespassing, you should still speak with an attorney to find out if an exception applies).
Depending on the circumstances involved, some examples of property owner and business owner negligence that may entitle slip and fall accident victims to recover just compensation in New Jersey include:
- Failing to clean up a spill
- Failing to place warning signs or cones around a spill or slippery area
- Failing to repair or replace dangerous walking surfaces or stairs
- Failing to safely remove or treat snow or ice
- Failing to maintain adequate lighting or security
- Failing to repair or prevent access to a malfunctioning elevator or escalator
- Failing to install or maintain adequate fencing around a pool, construction site, or other potentially dangerous area
Proving a Property Owner’s or Business Owner’s Negligence
So, those are some examples of the types of negligence. Now, how do you prove negligence and establish a claim for just compensation?
After a slip or fall, the key to proving liability is to collect as much evidence as you can as soon as possible. Unfortunately, due to the nature of slip and fall cases, evidence can disappear quickly and the party that is liable for your injuries has control over the location where the accident occurred. Hopefully, you took photos or video with your phone after you fell; if you didn’t, that’s okay. However, rather than you returning to the scene of the accident, you should hire a law firm to conduct an investigation. The law firm you choose will send a professional investigator to collect all of the available evidence while preserving its admissibility in court.
In addition to conducting an on-scene investigation, your law firm will likely seek to gather evidence through other sources as well. These may include trying to locate witnesses, talking to neighboring business or property owners, and subpoenaing records and testimony from the owner of the property or business where you fell. There are many potential ways to prove liability after a slip or fall accident. Ultimately, establishing your claim for compensation is about collecting as much evidence as possible from each of the various sources that are available.
Speak with an Injury Lawyer for Free
Do you have a claim for compensation as a result of injuries you sustained in a slip or fall on someone else’s property?
The personal injury attorneys at Petro Cohen Petro Matarazzo can answer your questions concerning a potential personal injury lawsuit and help you decide the best path for you. We take the time to listen to your story, review all of your options and potential case scenarios, and help you make an informed decision on how to proceed. You can rest assured that our attorneys will work hard on your behalf to obtain settlements for lost wages and medical expenses to help bring you closure.
Petro Cohen’s personal injury attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience winning personal injury cases for our clients throughout Southern New Jersey, including a wide variety of slip and fall cases. Susan Petro, who heads the Personal Injury Department and is also the Managing Partner of Petro Cohen Petro Matarazzo, along with Rich Gaeckle and Mike Veneziani, will handle your personal injury case, fighting for full and fair compensation.
Petro Cohen law firm was named to the prestigious U.S. News & World Report Best Law Firms in America® list in New Jersey for Personal Injury in 2017. PI Attorney Richard Gaeckle has been repeatedly named to the NJ Super Lawyers® list in the practice area of personal injury, has a Superb rating on AVVO, a trusted lawyer referral service, and holds an A/V rating with Martindale-Hubbell, the highest possible rating by the organization.
We offer free consultations with our attorneys at any of our four New Jersey office locations (Hamilton Township, Northfield, Cherry Hill, or Cape May Court House). To find out if you may have a potential slip and fall claim, call us today at 888-675-7607, or visit us online 24/7 at PetroCohen.com
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