When a person enters a property belongs to someone else, they presume the property is safe to enter, absent warnings to the contrary. That is a valid assumption because people and businesses have an obligation to keep the property they own or occupy reasonably safe for visitors.
Unfortunately, business owners and others often fail in that duty, and visitors to their premises slip or trip on a hazard and fall, injuring themselves. In cases where a slip and fall results from someone else’s negligence, the injured person could claim damages against the business, property owner, or lessee. This area of law is called premises liability.
If you were injured on someone else’s property, it is wise to discuss your options with a personal injury attorney. The facts of the particular case make a big difference to the likely outcome, so getting a legal consultation from a New Brunswick slip/trip and fall lawyer right away is a wise choice.
There is no liability without negligence and determining negligence in premises liability cases can be complicated. Proving negligence requires the injured person to establish that the property owner or lessee breached a duty they had to the plaintiff. A legal professional might explain that the extent of a defendant’s duty varies according to the relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant.
If the plaintiff is a trespasser on the property, the defendant’s only duty is to refrain from actively creating a condition that is likely to cause death or injury to trespassers. With that narrow exception, a property owner or lessee is not responsible for a trespasser’s injuries.
If the plaintiff was a social guest or on the property for their own purposes, but with the defendant’s knowledge and permission, the plaintiff is called a licensee. Defendants must warn licensees about hazards they know about, but a licensee might not anticipate. Defendants do not need to inspect the property to find hidden risks, and they do not have a duty tto correct an obvious dangerous condition for the benefit of a licensee.
If a defendant benefits from the plaintiff’s presence on their property, the plaintiff is called an invitee. If a plaintiff falls while in a business open to the public, the plaintiff is an invitee. Defendants have the highest responsibility to keep premises safe for invitees. They must make regular inspections to uncover dangerous conditions, repair them promptly, and warn invitees of any uncorrected hazards.
State law sets forth a strict requirement to provide written notice to a government entity (state, county, or local) for an injury claim resulting from a fall on government property. There are also heightened proof requirements for both liability and damages.
Sometimes a plaintiff was negligent, and that negligence contributed to the accident that caused their injury. This could happen if a plaintiff did not act for their own safety while walking and slipped/tripped on a hazard he or she might have avoided if they had been paying more attention.
New Jersey General and Permanent Statutes §2A:15-5.1 makes the doctrine of comparative negligence the law in the state. When a plaintiff is negligent, they may collect damages from anyone whose negligence was equal to or greater than his or hers. However, the damage award they receive will be adjusted to reflect the plaintiff’s degree of responsibility.
As soon as you sustain an injury, it is essential to take steps to protect your rights. New Jersey law allows plaintiffs only two years to bring a lawsuit seeking money damages for injuries caused by someone else’s negligence. Once the time to bring a suit expires, any leverage you might have with a defendant and their insurer expires as well.
Contact a New Brunswick slip and fall lawyer for guidance about whether you could pursue a claim for damages. The sooner you reach out the sooner you can start building a strong case on your behalf. Call today to begin discussing the details of your case.