Slip and Fall on Unsafe Property: Who’s Liable?
Visiting a neighbor’s house or making a trip to the store should never have to end in a trip to the hospital. Sadly, this mishap happens all too often for many people across New Jersey. Why? Because they suffer an injury in a slip-and-fall accident. If you or a loved one is involved in such an accident, who is liable for the damages caused? This post from Rossetti & DeVoto, PC will cover this situation and any liabilities associated with it so that you can be informed about your rights relating to slip-and-fall accidents.
The Property Owner
First and foremost, the property owner’s conduct will come into question in a slip-and-fall case involving unsafe property. An experienced attorney will investigate your fall to see if there is a connection between your injuries and the property. Owners of property are generally held responsible for maintaining their property in a safe condition, but it’s not automatic. These cases are often hard-fought battles.
For most homeowners, they are responsible for maintaining their property in a reasonably safe condition and/or for warning of conditions that are not obvious. The extent of the duty often coincides with whether the person injured was a social guest or an invitee onto the property. For social guests, oftentimes an owner is only responsible to warn of unknown or hidden dangers that an unsuspecting guest might encounter. For business invitees, it requires the property to be reasonably safe. For condominium owners, you may be prohibited from suing your own condominium association depending on the condominium by-laws.
When it comes to store owners, the law is much more strict and requires owners to make their property reasonably safe for all persons invited onto the property, including all customers. A store owner is not automatically responsible for injuries occurring on their premises but must act reasonably. The following are some of the most pertinent considerations in determining whether the store owner acted reasonably in keeping their property safe:
- Was a dangerous condition present?
- If so, how long was the dangerous condition present?
- Who created the danger?
- Did the owner have enough time to fix the condition before the injury occurred?
- Did the owner have inspection procedures in place to discover and correct hazards?
- If the owner tried to fix the condition, were his or her actions appropriate?
- Did the victim act carelessly in any way?
The Property Management Company
If a property management company oversees a building or parcel of land, such as a commercial complex, they can also be held liable for any injuries in a slip-and-fall accident. Property management companies usually have contractual maintenance obligations and responsibilities, especially when it comes to the removal of snow and ice. Falls on snow and ice are common in New Jersey due to the climate, and they can lead to severe injuries. If a property management company fails to remove snow or ice from the property and an injury results, then this company could be responsible for slip-and-fall accidents resulting from their negligence. If they contract with an outside vendor, then both can be held accountable.
Contractors and Builders?
Who is liable if you suffer injuries from something on the premises that is defectively built or repaired? In addition to the property owner, the contractor or builder can also be held liable for causing a fall when the defect in property came about from their negligent construction or repair. Often times, this results from poorly constructed stairs, flooring, stairs, ramps, railings, hanging fixtures, doors and the like. A builder or contractor is generally only responsible for injuries that occur within 10 years after the construction or repair. Once ten years pass after the work was done, they generally cannot be sued. This highlights the importance of contacting an attorney soon after being injured.
Who Can Be Held Responsible for My Slip-and-Fall Accident?
Were you injured in a slip-and-fall accident in New Jersey? If so, you need to speak with an experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney immediately. You deserve compensation for your financial losses, including medical expenses and lost wages. Determining slip-and-fall liability is not always an open-and-shut case, especially in situations involving multiple property owners or a government entity. Call the office of Rossetti & DeVoto, PC at (844) 263-6260 to schedule a free consultation today. We will fight to help you acquire the compensation you deserve.