How Do You Prove Fault in a Slip and Fall Accident?
Slips and falls are among the most common personal injury claims filed in New Jersey. In a slip and fall claim, an injured victim alleges that he was harmed on someone else’s property because of a dangerous condition that should have been remedied (or, if the condition could not be remedied, the property owner should have had a conspicuous warning about the hazard on the premises). Slip and fall claims may be filed against individual homeowners or they may be filed against businesses.
Specifically, an injured victim must show:
- The victim was lawfully on the premises
- A dangerous condition was present on the property
- The property owner knew or should have known about the dangerous condition
- The dangerous condition was a direct cause of the victim’s injuries
Each of these elements must be proven for a slip and fall victim to prevail in a claim.
Proving that the property owner was liable for the victim’s injury largely depends on the type of dangerous condition that was present and how long that dangerous condition was present.
For example, consider a grocery store. A child runs through the store and knocks over a bottle of water, which breaks. Employees notice the broken bottle of water, but are tied up with other tasks. No wet floor sign is placed near the spill and the spill is not cleaned up for 30 minutes. An elderly lady walks down the aisle the spilled water is on and slips and falls, breaking her arm. The elderly lady would likely have a strong case against the store in this situation because the employees had notice of the dangerous condition and did not remove it or warn others about it. Even if the employees did not have notice of the spill, the presence of a dangerous condition for an extended period of time supports arguments that the property owner should be liable.
However, if the spill had only been on the floor for a couple of minutes before the elderly lady fell, and no store employees had notice of the spill, arguing that the store should be liable may be more challenging. Property owners are not expected to be responsible for a dangerous condition the instant it appears. They are allowed a reasonable amount of time to discover and repair dangerous conditions or to provide warnings about them.
In some situations, the injured victim is at least partially to blame for the slip and fall incident. For example, if the victim was trespassing on the property, the victim is likely responsible for his injuries because he did not have permission to be there. Property owners generally do not owe any duties to trespassers.
Additionally, if the victim ignored warnings about the dangerous condition, the victim likely will not recover any damages. For example, if the victim ignored “Do Not Enter” signs or walked through an area that was taped off, the property owner would be able to use these behaviors against the accident victim to shift blame.
Determining fault in a slip and fall case requires a careful examination of the evidence in the claim. Evidence may include:
- Video surveillance footage
- Repair reports
- Inspection reports
- Internal company records
- Eyewitness reports
- Medical records
- Medical bills
- Employee statements
Other types of evidence may also be considered, depending on the slip and fall claim.
If you or a loved one was injured in a slip and fall, call our skilled New Jersey slip and fall lawyers today
At Leonard Legal Group, our New Jersey injury lawyers have represent injured victims against both private and corporate property owners in slip and fall claims. To schedule your free consultation with our experienced personal injury attorneys, call 973-984-1414 or contact us online.