New Jersey Slip and Fall Lawyer

Falls are one of the most common causes of injury in New Jersey and across the country. It is not only older adults who are at risk for suffering fall injuries. While one in three older New Jersey residents suffer falls each year, younger people are also at risk of falling based on dangerous conditions anywhere that they go. For example, anyone can be injured in a slip and fall when the following happens:

  • Someone spills something in a store aisle, and the property owner delays in cleaning it up.
  • The property owner does not take steps to promptly clear snow and ice within a reasonable amount of time or does not keep the floors dry when people track in rain and water.
  • Someone leaves equipment or debris in a walking path.
  • The local government does not maintain the sidewalk in reasonable condition, and something trips over cracked pavement.

Insurance companies like to portray any slip and fall claim as minor and the accident victim as clumsy. Their interest is in ensuring that they pay as little as possible, if they even pay you at all. However, no amount of insurance company posturing can hide the truth – you have legal rights to financial compensation when you have been injured in a slip and fall that was the result of someone else’s negligence.

Never hesitate to contact a New Jersey slip and fall lawyer from Varcadipane & Pinnisi, PC, right away after an injury. Our attorneys will fight for your legal rights and get the most compensation possible under the law. 

How Slip and Fall Accidents Happen

There are several ways that a slip-and-fall accident could happen:

  • The property owner (or person in control of the property) could create the dangerous condition themselves that caused your fall.
  • Someone else may have created the dangerous condition, and the property owner may not have taken action to fix it or clean it up in a reasonable amount of time.
  • A worker may have created dangerous conditions on a construction site because of a lack of expertise.

Under both of these circumstances, the property owner would be considered negligent. If they made the danger themselves, it does not matter how long the condition existed – they would be legally responsible. If someone else made the problem, the property owner can not either delay dealing with it or pretend that it does not exist. Negligence law would assume that they knew about it after a certain period of time passes.

Where Do Slips and Falls Happen?

Slip and fall accident scenes happen indoors or outdoors in some areas more prone to these accidents than others. Foot traffic, the weather, and exposure can all contribute to certain locations being more dangerous than others. Slip and falls happen in areas like:

  • Sidewalks
  • Inside supermarkets and retail stores
  • Restaurants and fast food places
  • Parking lots and walkways 
  • Sidewalks
  • Apartment complexes 
  • Cruise ships
  • Hotels and motels
  • City Properties 
  • At the individual’s workplace. 

While the insurance company tries to say you are liable for your injuries, the circumstances surrounding the falls are hazardous that the victim could not have seen and are not responsible for. When you visit a property, you are not responsible for keeping the floor free of danger, as the property owner is, and they will need to pay for your losses. 

What To Do After A Slip and Fall Accident

After you slip and fall, you may just get up and go about your business. However, even if the fall seems minor, you should take the following steps. Every day you delay treatment makes it less likely you can get compensation in a lawsuit. 

Get Prompt Medical Attention 

If you are hurt, it’s vital to get medical care as soon as possible. First, it’s your health on the line, and fast treatment can prevent complications. Second, proving the fall injuries came from the fall is vital. The longer you wait for care, the easier it is for the insurance company to deny the claim. The insurance company will check when the accident happened and when you first went for treatment. 

Remember that some fall injuries may not appear for at least a few hours or days. Having a doctor check you over gets the accident on the record in case you have complications later. Keep a folder of all doctor visits, medical tests, and medications related to the accident. If symptoms worsen later, you have everything documented for the insurance company. 

Talk to the Owner of the Property 

If you can, report the accident to the property owner and get their contact information. Even if you think it’s a minor injury, you could have worse injuries than you think. Reporting the accident at least gives the owner the chance to correct the issue. Remember you should not admit fault for the accident to the owner; it could be used against you. 

If your fall happened on business property, get an incident report completed. Your case should have the report done immediately after the accident. The incident report will be useful for your slip-and-fall attorney when it’s time to negotiate with the insurance company. 

Write Down What Happened

Our memories fade after a few days. So, write down what happened. Think about what caused the accident, what you heard and saw, the weather, etc. A detailed account could help your slip-and-fall attorney build the case. 

Take Pictures and Video 

If you are ok enough to take photos and video, get as much of the accident scene as possible. Take shots of the entire area and close-up shots of what caused your injuries. For instance, take long-distance and close-up shots of the icy sidewalk if you slipped on ice on the sidewalk. 

If a dangerous condition caused the accident, the property owner would probably fix it soon after the incident. So, it’s critical to get photos and videos of the condition quickly. 

Get Contact Information From Witnesses

Did anyone see your slip-and-fall accident? You should get their contact information and statement immediately. Objective eyewitness testimony can be invaluable for a slip-and-fall claim. Also, try to record a statement on camera from witnesses if they allow it. Witnesses’ memories may fade after a few days or weeks, so getting their statements recorded is critical for your case. 

Talk to a Slip and Fall Attorney 

Many people think they can’t afford to hire an NYC attorney, but slip-and-fall attorneys work on a contingency basis. This means you don’t pay anything unless you get a settlement or favorable verdict. Having a skilled attorney negotiating with the insurance company makes it more likely you will have the best outcome. 

Some of the things your attorney will do for you include: 

  • Help you understand your legal rights
  • Investigate the accident and find every party that could be held liable
  • Determine the rough value of your claim
  • Communicate and negotiate with third parties so you can focus on recovery 
  • Collect accident evidence and talk to witnesses
  • Hire experts to support your claim
  • Cover legal expenses until after the claim is resolved 

You may consider delaying the hiring of an attorney. But if you wait for weeks or months, you will less likely to have a favorable outcome. Accident evidence is best collected in the first few days after the incident. There also is a statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit, and your case could take much longer than you believe. 

Types of Slip and Fall Accidents

There are many situations where slip and fall accidents happen. Two of the most common are: 

Falls on Government Property and Public Transportation 

Slip and fall accidents happen daily on public property and transportation, including train and bus stations, government buildings, and public parks. However, these cases have special requirements, so it’s critical to partner with a New Jersey slip and fall attorney as soon as possible. 

For example, if you want to file a personal injury claim against a government entity, you usually must file it within 90 days of the accident. If you were hurt on property that the state of New Jersey and the Port Authority of New York own, you must file the claim within a year of the accident. You must also file the claim within 60 days before filing a personal injury lawsuit. 

Workplace Slip and Fall Accidents

Workers’ compensation usually covers the injuries if you’re hurt in a slip and fall accident on the job. So instead of filing a lawsuit, you would file for benefits under your employer’s insurance plan. However, you may file a lawsuit if the company engages in purposeful misconduct. 

Even if you intend to file for workers’ comp, talking to a slip and fall lawyer still is wise. The insurance provider may fight paying your benefits if the injuries are severe and you’re out of work for months. An attorney can ensure that you get every dime of benefits to which you’re entitled. 

Also, remember that workers’ comp only covers you if you’re an employee of the firm; it doesn’t cover independent contractors. If your employer gave you a W-2, you’re an employee. If you get a 1099, you’re a contractor. But some employers may misclassify you as a contractor to avoid paying benefits. If you’re unsure how you’re classified, talk to your HR department or your attorney. 

How to Prove Your Slip and Fall Case

In any slip and fall case, you have the burden of proof to show that the defendant was negligent. Here is where your claim for compensation could get challenging. Your best hope is that someone saw your fall who could testify. Direct testimony from an objective third party is always the most effective way to prove liability. Even if you do not have witness testimony, you can still prove that someone was responsible for your fall. 

You can also use the following evidence to prove your claim:

  • Surveillance camera footage
  • Pictures of the scene where your fall happened
  • Maintenance logs that could show when the property was inspected and what the owner did to remedy dangerous conditions
  • Testimony from an expert who could recreate the scene and the fall
  • An accident report (in court, someone would need to testify as opposed to just submitting the report)

You will have a challenge getting the insurance company to believe your claim. They can hide behind a “prove it” attitude, knowing that slip-and-fall claims are not always the easiest to prove. The longer you wait to hire an attorney, the more challenging your claim can get. You can lose valuable evidence that can be used to prove your claim. 

Duty of care and negligence 

Property owners have a duty of care to everyone who enters the premises. That duty will vary slightly depending on your purpose for being on the property. New Jersey recognizes three types of visitors on a property: 

  • Invitees: these groups have the highest duty and are visitors that are on the property for a business purpose. Property owners are responsible for warning and protecting visitors from any property hazards. 
  • Licensees are parties who enter a property for something other than a business purpose. These are party guests and contractors who are performing maintenance. Property owners must warn them of hazards, but the duty is smaller than for invitees. 
  • Trespassers: people who do not have permission to be on a property have no duty from the property owner. Since they do not have the invitation to be there, the property owner does not need to warn them of hazards. 

There is one caveat to trespassers being able to recover compensation for injuries. Suppose a property owner intentionally creates a hazardous condition that will harm a trespasser; they are negligent and responsible for paying for any injuries. 

Breach of duty 

Establishing a duty of care is the first step; you will also need to prove there was a breach of that duty. You will need to show the property owner was negligent when inspecting the property and did not warn or section off dangerous areas. You will need to show the following through your insurance claim or lawsuit:

  • The property owner did not maintain the property in a safe condition 
  • The property owner did not warn visitors of hazards
  • The property owner did not correct any known danger on the premises 

A common defense from property owners is they did not know the hazards were present, but there are many ways to prove they did. We can investigate and find they did not inspect the property sufficiently during the intervals they needed to. Your New Jersey slip and fall lawyer can prove that the property owner should have known of the hazardous condition. 

Causation 

One final element in proving a slip-and-fall accident is causation. This element means the property owner’s negligence was the direct cause of your injuries and damages. When a property owner admits a hazard is present and does nothing about it, their next defense is to say your injuries resulted from something else. A New Jersey slip and fall lawyer must prove the hazardous condition was the cause of your injuries and nothing else.

How Insurance Companies Try to Keep You from Getting Compensation

There are other defenses that you may face that are designed to keep you from getting a settlement check. The insurance company or defendant may claim that:

  • The danger should have been open and obvious, and you should have seen it before you fell.
  • Your injury resulted from something other than your fall
  • You were careless and were to blame for your own injury instead of the property owner
  • You knowingly put yourself in a dangerous position

As you can see, slip and fall cases may be as much about defending you as they are about proving that the defendant did something wrong. If you do not have an attorney, the insurance company may find you to be an easy target in trying to escape liability. 

Damages in a Slip and Fall Case

When you are able to prove liability for the accident, you have the legal right to full payment for your injuries. Slip and fall compensation should include:

  • The full cost of your medical treatment
  • Lost wages for the time that you missed from work
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Slip and Fall Accident Injuries

Damages are another area where the insurance company tries to take advantage of perceptions attached to slip and falls. They would try to minimize your injuries, arguing that you could not have been injured that badly in a fall. They consciously overlook the fact that you could suffer some of the following serious injuries:

  • Brain injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Neck and back injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Lacerations

Any of these injuries could have significant costs attached. If someone else was responsible for your fall, they must pay for all of the damages. An attorney could pursue compensation on your behalf, negotiating to obtain an amount that fairly pays you back for the full extent of your injuries. 

Wrongful death slip and fall claims 

Many serious injuries result from a slip-and-fall accident; the worst outcome is losing a loved one. These accidents are not a joke and should not be taken lightly. Families who pursue an insurance claim can hold the negligent party responsible for the incident, get answers on how and why the accident happened, and offset the financial impact that losing a loved one brings. Through a wrongful death claim, you can recover monetary compensation for:

  • Medical expenses before their passing 
  • Funeral expenses 
  • Loss of guidance 
  • Loss of household contributions 

Deadly slip and falls are seen when a person falls from a higher place, like a second floor, but any fall resulting in head trauma can also lead to death. Even a mild injury can lead to catastrophic complications that result in death. If your loved one dies after being in a slip and fall, speak to a New Jersey slip and fall lawyer to discuss your options today. 

Statute of limitations

The aftermath of an accident is confusing, and it can be challenging to think about anything other than the physical pain you are in. While our New Jersey slip and fall lawyer wants you to focus on healing, we advise you to take legal action immediately. Some claims have a statute of limitations that expire in months and others in years. Generally, you have two years from the slip and fall to take legal action in New Jersey. Once this deadline passes, you lose your rights to obtain compensation. It is a strict deadline with few exceptions. If you file a claim against a government entity, you will have a couple of months, depending on the local municipality you are going against. You must speak with a New Jersey slip and fall lawyer within a week of your accident to get started.

What you need for your initial consultation 

When ready to review your options, you must compile documentation, so your New Jersey slip and fall lawyer can accurately determine the next steps. Gather these documents when preparing:

  • Medical records
  • Photos and videos from the scene 
  • Contact information for the property owner, witness, and insurance companies
  • The incident report
  • Police report 
  • Your written account of the accident

Slip and fall lawyers in New Jersey will look at all the information you provide and inform you of what you can do next and if they can handle your case. An initial consultation is also the time to decide whether a New Jersey slip-and-fall lawyer is right for you. Consider their experience, results, attentiveness, resources, and fees before moving forward. While you want to recover money fast, you do not want to leave any on the table. Work with someone you can trust.

Call a New Jersey Trip & Fall Lawyer Today

If you have been injured in a trip and fall case, you need an experienced personal injury attorney on your side to have a fighting chance to get what you deserve for your accident. It is extremely difficult to prove liability on your own, and it is every bit as hard to get enough financial compensation for your injuries. Call the attorneys at Varcadipane & Pinnisi, P.C. today at (800) 616-2916, or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation to discuss your case and learn about your legal options.  

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