Slip and Fall Accidents on Government Property

caution wet floor sign at a corridorIf you fall on someone else’s property in New York or New Jersey and the property owner or occupier was at fault, there is a good chance you have the right to pursue a personal injury claim. However, if the slip and fall takes place on government property, your right to recover may be severely limited. It is best to explore your legal rights by speaking with a slip and fall lawyer at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman as soon as possible.

Is the government liable for slip and fall?

Like other property owners or occupiers, the government can be liable for slip and fall injuries if it can be shown to be at fault – usually this means:

  • There was defect on the property;
  • The government was on notice of the defect; and
  • It either failed to repair it or to warn those who enter the property.

State laws often add additional requirements to establish liability, and local, state, and federal governments alike impose strict timelines and other procedural maneuvers that can limit one’s ability to receive compensation.

Recovering for a fall on federal property

If you experience a fall on a military base, at a post office, in a federal park, or on other federal property, you may pursue a claim if you meet the requirements of the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). This requires proving that:

  • The accident was caused by the negligence of a federal employee
  • The employee was acting in the course and scope of his or her job at the time

If these requirements are met, within two years, you must file a claim within the federal administrative agency you believe is to blame. The government will then have six months to respond. If it declines to pay your claim, you will then have six months to file a federal lawsuit. An award will be limited to compensatory damages so it cannot include punitive damages or attorney fees.

Falling on government property in New York

It is much more likely that you will fall on municipal or state property but the laws and claim procedures to obtain compensation vary depending on location.

Municipalities have laws that determine who is responsible for maintaining sidewalks and therefore who is liable for injuries that occur there. In addition, private property can appear to be public, such as when shopping centers are built on a town square design, and this can cause confusion when it comes to figuring out who is responsible.

Figuring out whether it is a government or private party at fault is often the first hurdle in these cases but there are more hurdles coming. In New York, before you ca sue the government for a personal injury caused by a defect in the property, you must first show that the government had written notice of the defect before the injury occurred. Even if that difficult requirement is met, you have a very limited window in which to file a claim so it is important to speak with a Rockland County slip and fall lawyer without delay.

Slip and fall on government property in New Jersey

New Jersey also has strict requirements for filing a claim for personal injury that occurred on its property. If you do not file your claim with the state within 90 days, you may not be eligible to recover compensation.

Like in New York, it is important to understand how state and city laws affect property rights and responsibilities. For example, while many other states hold the adjoining property owner responsible for maintaining a sidewalk, in New Jersey, all residential sidewalks with adjoining residential property are the responsibility of the municipality. However, the public sidewalks with adjoining commercial property are the responsibility of the commercial owners. In practice, this can be less clear-cut than it may seem so it is important to discuss your case with a knowledgeable Bergen County slip and fall attorney.

Protect your rights after a slip and fall on government property

It is crucial not to treat a slip and fall on government property the same as other slip and fall cases; this can lead to missed deadlines, failure to comply with reporting requirements, or other issues that will leave you to bear your own costs. Instead, speak with a NY and NJ slip and fall lawyer as soon as possible and take comfort in knowing we have expertise in this area.

At Kantrowitz, Goldhamer, & Graifman, we put decades of experience to work to obtain maximum compensation for clients in Rockland County and Bergen County. Call today to schedule a free consultation and learn how we can help you.

Additional resources and slip and fall injuries on government property:

  1. Justia, Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA),
  2. New York City, New York City Administrative Code Sidewalk Rules,
  3. Justia, 2013 New Jersey Revised Statutes Title 59 – Claims Against Public Entities,

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