Proving Negligence in a Slip and Fall Lawsuit

cleaning progress caution sign in officeNegligence in a slip and fall lawsuit means that another party is responsible for either creating or failing to fix situations that caused someone to slip and fall. In both New York and New Jersey, for another party to be responsible, several conditions must be met. The other party must:

  • Have a duty of care over the place, so they are responsible for maintaining it safely (eg, a store owner over the store’s premises or a landlord over his buildings)
  • Have known that the conditions that caused the slip and fall were unsafe, or could be reasonably be expected to have known
  • Had sufficient time to rectify the unsafe conditions
  • Failed to rectify them

In addition, the unsafe conditions need to have been a proximate cause (ie, directly responsible) for the slip and fall accident.

If all slip and fall and negligence elements are met, slip and fall claims can provide compensation for injuries sustained in the slip and fall and related financial damage, such as time off work due to the injuries. A slip and fall suit can thus be brought for medical expenses and lost wages.

Potential Defenses in Slip and Fall Accidents

Proving fault in slip and fall cases can be complicated, because the responsible parties often mount a defense that one or all of the elements of negligence weren’t met.

Say, for example, that you slipped on spilled liquid in a grocery store. A store owner may argue that the liquid had been spilled just a few minutes before you slipped, and she thus did not have reasonable time to mop up the spill.

Or responsible parties may claim that they did not know a situation was unsafe. Landlords, for example, may argue that they did not know carpet was on a stairs was loose as a defense that a claimant tumbled down the stairs because of tripping over it.

Defendants also commonly claim that claimants in slip and fall cases are either completely or partially responsible for the accidents. They may say, for example, that you could have avoided spilled liquid in a store, or were on your cellphone and thus distracted. Both New York and New Jersey law will reduce 

Proving Fault in Slip and Fall Accidents

Given these defenses, how can negligence be proven? There are several ways.

The first is to keep good records of the conditions surrounding your accident. You need documentation that the conditions were unsafe. If you have a smartphone, take pictures of the area where you slipped and fell. Document the spilled liquid, for example, or the loose carpeting. Take pictures of the area from every angle.

You should also take notes about what happened and when. If there are witnesses, get their contact information. Ask for their statements.

The second is to check to see if the responsible party had been told a given situation was dangerous. Did a store employee tell the owner, for example, or tenants alert the landlord? If so, these warnings can be used as evidence that the responsible party knew the situation was dangerous.

A court will also look for signs that the party with the responsibility of care was taking care of the property. Was there a schedule of maintaining the property, for example? Were there regularly scheduled walk-throughs of the property to see if anything needed to be fixed? Was there a lack of preventive maintenance that could have avoided the dangerous conditions in the first place? Did any other factors, such as poor lighting or limited visibility, contribute to the conditions going undetected?

A court will likely look for any other situations that may have impeded fixing the unsafe conditions, such as weather.

If You Need a Slip and Fall Lawyer in New York or New Jersey

If you have suffered a slip and fall accident in Bergen County, Rockland County or elsewhere in New York or New Jersey as the result of another party’s negligence, it’s important to contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. The statute of limitations for bringing a case is two years in New Jersey and three years in New York. After that, you can no longer bring a suit.

Insurance company offers are often insufficient to cover true costs of your injuries. Contact the slip and fall attorneys at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman to review your case. If you are incapacitated and travel is difficult, our attorneys can come to you and provide a complimentary assessment of the facts.

We pledge to fight aggressively for a maximum settlement or verdict. You will pay nothing unless we recover damages for you. 

Additional “Slip, Trip and Fall Lawsuit” Resources:

  1. Trips, Slips, & Falls: New National Standards Certain to be Game Changer,
  2. Justia, Rowe v. Mazel Thirty, LLC,
  3. Reliable Plant, 6 guidelines to prevent workplace slips, trips and falls,

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