Slip and fall accidents
Nationwide, more than 800,000 people per year are injured severely enough to be hospitalized by slip and fall accidents. Twenty percent of these are due to injuries to the head or a broken hip. Tragically, deaths from falls have increased 30% in recent years.
If you or a loved one has slipped or fallen and injured yourself on a landowner’s property in New Jersey, you may be injured. You may be wondering if you can bring a legal case against the landowner. What is the liability of a landowner in New Jersey if you slip, fall, and injure yourself on the landowner’s property? Could you bring a case?
Liability of a Landowner in New Jersey
For a landowner to be liable in New Jersey, several things must be true. First, the landowner must own the property on which you slipped and fell. If you fell on adjacent property owned by someone else, you could not sue the property owner of an adjacent property.
Second, the landowner must have a duty of care to keep the property safe, so that either invited people or people doing business on the landowner’s property do not slip due to unsafe conditions. The classic example of this is a store owner who owns the store. If a carton of milk is spilled on the floor, the landowner must clean up the spill and make the floor safe again.
The landowner must have known that there was an unsafe situation as well, or had sufficient time and opportunity to know.
Plus, the landowner with the duty of care must also have had what a reasonable person would consider a reasonable amount of time to make the area safe again. If you slip on un-shoveled snow on a homeowner’s driveway and fall, for example, during the middle of a snowstorm, a court may find that the landowner did not have a reasonable time or opportunity to make the driveway safe, as snow was still coming down.
You must have had access to the landowner’s property, either because you had business at a place of business or because you were invited in. Note that if you are trespassing on a landowner’s property, or have entered illegally, there is no duty of care under New Jersey law. In fact, you are classified as a trespasser. The only legal requirement a landowner has is to avoid explicitly harming you if you have no intent to commit a crime.
Comparative Negligence in New Jersey
You should know, too, that New Jersey slip and fall cases operate under comparative negligence. That means any financial compensation you receive in court can be reduced by the percentage that the court finds you liable for your own slip and fall. Defendants in a slip and fall therefore often argue that the injured party was responsible.
They may claim that the dangerous area was marked as such, with signs or with tape blocking the area off. They may argue that the danger should have been obvious to you, so proceeding was your responsibility. They can also argue that you were not paying attention to your surroundings or that your shoes caused you to slip – or at least did not prevent a slip.
If You Need a Slip and Fall Lawyer in New York or New Jersey
The seasoned attorneys at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman have four decades of experience in slip and fall cases in New Jersey. We will fight for fair and just compensation for our clients.
For a complimentary case review with a NJ slip and fall lawyer, call us today toll free!
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Important Facts About Fall. https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html.
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Older Adults Fall. https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/index.html.
For many people, shopping at the local mall or at a craft gathering is one of the highlights of the holiday season. Bells ring. Holiday music plays. Everything is festive. It’s a chance to think about how to delight your family and loved ones.
Slip and Fall Dangers Increase During the Holiday Season
Unfortunately, it’s also a chance to slip and fall. While people can slip and fall at any time, winter weather is particularly conducive to it. Floors become wet and slippery because people are tracking in rain, snow, and ice. Umbrellas and scarves are being shaken, which can also cause water, snow, and ice to fall on floors and other surfaces. People may drop small objects, like candy or small products, on the floor, which can be slipped on. There are many more people, which exacerbates all potential dangers.
Finally, store and mall employees, who are normally supposed to keep floors mopped, clean, and clear, may be pulled in a thousand different directions by people asking about products or waiting to be rung up for a sale. Employees may be seasonal and not fully trained.
Slipping and falling in a store during the holiday season can be very dangerous. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20% of falls cause a serious injury, such as a head trauma or a broken bone. Head injuries, of course, can also cause concussions, which can be life-threatening.
A store, of course, is not the only place you can slip and fall. Parking lots of stores and malls can be very icy, snowy, and very dangerous.
Can You Sue?
So if you do slip and fall during holiday shopping, can you sue?
For a defendant to be liable for an injury someone sustains during a slip and fall injury, three things must be true. First, the person or entity sued must be responsible for the space in which you slip and fall. It’s called having a duty of care. A store and mall owner and manager do have a duty of care to keep their premises safe and cleared of anything which could cause someone to slip and fall.
Second, they also need to have known that an area was unsafe and needed to be cleaned, mopped, or fixed. Three, they need to have had a reasonable time to do so, but failed to do so. Sometimes, for example, store owners whose customers have slipped on a recent spill of liquid can argue that they did not have sufficient time to mop the area before someone slipped. A mall owner may claim that they shoveled and sanded the parking lot the first instant it became possible, but someone slipped before they could reasonable clear the entire area
But if all three conditions are met, it means the responsible party is liable. They can be sued for damages as a result.
If You Need a Slip and Fall Attorney in New York or New Jersey
If you or a loved one has slipped and fallen due to the negligence of another party, while holiday shopping or at any other time, please contact our law firm to discuss your case.
The NY & NJ slip and fall lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman have years of experience successfully representing clients who fell and were injured at a store or shopping mall. Call us at (800) 711-5258 or fill out the form on our website. We will be happy to meet you at our Rockland County, NY or Bergen County, NJ offices. The consultation is complimentary, and there is never any obligation.
- Bush, Joe. “Safety in store: From the back room to the parking lot, retail workers face many hazards on the job.” Safety + Health. February 28, 2018. https://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/16667-safety-hazards-retail-workers.
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Important Facts About Falls. https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html.
Winter is coming! In fact, in many places in New York and New Jersey, temperatures have already dropped into the low 30s or even colder. Ice and snow are sure to follow.
The risk of slipping and falling in an accident rises exponentially in colder weather. Ice, snow, and sleet can create treacherous — even potentially deadly — conditions for pedestrians, as sidewalks and steps become difficult if not impossible to walk on.
What if you rent? The sidewalks and parking lots outside your house or apartment building should be kept free of ice and snow, and so should the steps. It’s part of the duty of whomever is responsible for maintaining the building.
But what if you slip and fall due to ice or snow on the sidewalks, walkways, or steps? Who is responsible?
Responsibility for Maintaining Building Safely
There are some general principles in liability and responsibility in buildings. Ultimately, owners of buildings have what courts term “a duty of care” to keep their buildings well maintained and safe for tenants. In the case of snow, ice, and sleet, that means making sure all the areas tenants would reasonably walk on are kept clear of snow, ice, and sleet. It also means sanding properly if conditions could change.
There are two other elements in assessing responsibility and liability. Owners not only have a duty of care, they have to know that the area is unsafe (or the conditions need to be deemed such that a reasonable person would have known), and have had sufficient time to shovel, de-ice, and sand.
Now, if you slip and fall due to the fact that ice and snow wasn’t removed from walkways and steps around your building, several parties might be at fault. It depends on the system for snow and ice removal.
When Is the Property Owner at Fault for a Slip and Fall on an Icy Walkway?
The owner might be at fault if he failed to remove the snow or ice if he was personally responsible. If the owner hired a property manager to oversee maintenance of the building(s), the property management company could be at fault if they failed to either remove it or hire someone to do it. If either the property manager or owner engaged a super or a grounds crew to perform the shoveling, de-icing, and sanding, and they failed to do so, they could be at fault. If the owner failed to engage either a property manager or super/grounds person, or failed to train them, the owner might be at fault.
But slip and fall cases can, of course, be complex. Supers and grounds crew can argue that they were not given the instruction, or not properly trained. All parties could potentially argue that the snow or ice had only recently occurred, and that didn’t have sufficient time to clear it.
All these parties could also argue, unfortunately, that the person who slipped and fell was at fault. If they didn’t know that the temperature was low enough to cause ice, for example, or hadn’t had time to clear it, they may argue that you knew the area was unsafe but walked on it anyway, or didn’t wait for it to be cleared. They may even argue that you wore improper footwear for cold and icy conditions, or were walking too fast.
Do You Need a Slip and Fall Attorney in New York or New Jersey?
Slip and fall cases can be complex in terms of determining who is at fault. You need an experienced attorney on your side to make sure you receive fair treatment and just compensation for your injuries.
NY & NJ slip and fall lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman have been investigating and litigating cases involving negligence on the part of landlords and property managers in New York and New Jersey for more than four decades.
We will fight to see that you receive just compensation. For a complimentary case review, call us today toll free at our Bergen County or Rockland County offices.
- National Safety Council. Fall-prevention Measures Can Keep Older Adults Independent. https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/safety-topics/older-adult-falls.
- U.S. Centers for Disease and Prevention. Be Prepared to Stay Safe and Healthy in Winter. https://www.cdc.gov/features/winterweather/index.html.
For generations, schools were looked upon as safe spaces. In fact, schools operate under the aegis of in loco parentis, which means that schools are as responsible for the safety of children as parents are.
Sadly, we all know that schools are less safe than they once seemed to be. Shootings, bullying, and more make headlines around the country and the world.
Slip and Falls In and Around Schools Can Be Dangerous
Slipping and falling accidents can make students unsafe as well. In fact, of the roughly 14 million children injured in accidents each year, approximately 25% happen in or around schools. About 20,000 children 14 years old or younger are taken to emergency rooms each year for traumatic brain injury (TBI) sustained on a playground, for example. Eighty percent of playground injuries are caused by falls, according to the National Safety Council.
Children can slip and fall for a number of reasons in and around schools. Perhaps tree roots or a stump remain on the playground. Perhaps a spilled lunch remained on the cafeteria floor. Stairwells and banisters may have been improperly maintained.
Who is responsible if your child slips and falls while at school or on school grounds? Ascertaining responsibility can be complex.
First, in any accident, a party who was responsible for causing the accident can be liable if the court finds them to be negligent. A finding of negligence has several different constituent elements. First, the party has to be responsible for making an area safe. They should have a duty of care to the people who will use the space.
Second, they need to have known, or a reasonable person should have known, that an area was not safe. Third, they need to have had a reasonable time to remedy the unsafe condition. This means, for example, that if a lunch is spilled in a cafeteria, the school’s maintenance staff needs to know about it or should have reasonably known about it, and needs to have had sufficient time to clean it up.
Fourth, responsible parties can be found negligent if the first, second, and third conditions were met, but they did not make the area safe.
That said, responsible parties in school slip and fall accidents can be multiple, and ascertaining the degree of responsibility can be complex here as well. It could be improper performance by the school staff. It could be school administrators, who failed to properly train or supervise the staff. It could be lack of proper maintenance or installation by contractors who the school hired. All these parties and more can bear some degree of responsibility for a slip and fall accident.
If You Need a Slip and Fall Lawyer in New York or New Jersey
The NY & NJ slip and fall attorneys at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman are experienced in premises liability cases in New York and New Jersey. We have been handling slip and fall cases since 1975, and are committed to obtaining fair and just compensation for our clients.
For a complimentary case review, call us today toll free.
- National Safety Council. Landing Lightly: Playgrounds Don’t Have to Hurt. https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/safety-topics/child-safety/playgrounds.
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Safe Youth, Safe Schools. https://www.cdc.gov/features/safeschools/index.html.
Among the elderly, falls can be a major factor that determines quality of life. Federal statistics show that among those over age 65, about one in every four experiences a fall each year – and those who experience a fall are more likely to fall again in the future. These falls led to more than 30,000 deaths in 2016, and reports recently released by the Centers for Disease Control indicate that this may be a drastic rise over the past few years.
Age groups at greatest risk of falls
According to the CDC, unintentional injuries are the seventh leading cause of death among the elderly and falls make up the largest category of unintentional injuries. What may be most shocking in the CDC’s recently-released May report is that the number of elderly fall-related deaths appears to have increased by a little over 30% from 2007 to 2016.
In most cases, falls occur in places familiar to the individual. The CDC does not track where people fall but the National Health Interview Survey has attempted to track this in 1998. At the time, it found that more than half (55%) occur inside while 23% occurred outside but near the home and 22% occurred away from the home.
So how did the rate of death rise so far? The study shows a gradual but steady increase of 3% each year. Falls increased among every age sub-section among those 65 and older but the increase was greatest among those aged 85 and older, which is also the largest-growing demographic.
Preventing falls in older adults
Falls are preventable. Conventional wisdom says that the way to avoid falls is to install handrails and supports. While these are important to have, there are much more effective ways to help older individuals stay say.
According to the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, regular exercise, including strength and resistance training, is the best way to prevent falls. Physical therapy and group sessions like tai chi can also be beneficial. This conclusion was based on a review of about 20 studies showing that participants who exercised three times a week for about a year showed a 10 to 20 percent reduction in the likelihood of a fall.
The New Jersey Falls Prevention Workshop also recommends regular exercise to increase strength and flexibility. It also recommends:
- Checking eyesight at least once a year
- Wearing safe, well-fitting footwear
- Removing trip hazards
- Asking a doctor or pharmacist to review medications for medicines or combinations of medicines that can cause dizziness or weakness
Proceeding after a fall in New Jersey
If you or an elderly loved one has suffered a fall, you may have questions about your right to recover medical expenses and other compensation. Put your mind at ease by speaking with a Bergen County, NJ slip and fall lawyer from Kantrowitz, Goldhamer, & Graifman P.C. We understand the toll it takes and are prepared to help you recover maximum compensation. We also have a convenient location in Rockland County, NY.
Additional elderly slip and fall resources:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Deaths from Falls Among Persons Aged ≥65 Years – United States, 2007-2016, https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6718a1.htm?s_cid=mm6718a1
- State of New Jersey Department of Human Services Division of Aging Services, Falls Prevention Awareness Week, September 11-23, 2017, http://www.nj.gov/humanservices/doas/services/fallprev/
- NPR, To Prevent Falls In Older Age, Try Regular Exercise, https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/04/17/603186213/to-prevent-falls-in-older-age-try-regular-exercise
A slip and fall usually happens in an instant, taking its victim completely by surprise. If someone is at fault for the accident, it pays to take a few moments to gather evidence that documents the scene. Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman’s slip and fall lawyers in Rockland County and Bergen County see this situation play out again and again; those who gather some information at the time of the incident have a much smoother road to proving their slip and fall case
What is needed to prove slip and fall liability?
An injury victim may be entitled to recover if they can establish that the property’s owner or occupier was careless regarding a dangerous or potentially dangerous condition of the property. An example might be that a grocery store’s employees knew about a spill but did not clean it up immediately or warn customers to be careful.
Documenting the scene will help you show the extent of the hazard, how informed the property owner or manager was or should have been, and whether a reasonable person would have discovered the hazard without getting hurt first.
Ways to document a slip and fall
The first thing to do in the case of a slip and fall is to notify the property owner. Next, take steps to document the situation.
- Take photos or videos. A visual representation is often much more effective evidence than a verbal description. Photograph the site of the fall itself – including the cause of the fall such as a spill or uneven flooring – as well as the surrounding area, lighting conditions, and path of foot traffic.
- Meet the witnesses. If there are others who saw the fall, try to obtain their names and phone numbers. If necessary, you can call on them to corroborate your account of the event.
- Obtain a copy of any official report. If the property owner requests you to fill out a written incident report, ask for a copy for your records. If the police or other first responders arrive at the scene, obtain a copy of their reports as well.
- Seek medical attention. Many injuries are not apparent immediately but defense counsel or insurance adjusters often try to discredit victims who do not seek medical help immediately. It is better to be safe and have your injuries checked out right away.
Keep in mind that your time to file a lawsuit or insurance claim in New York or New Jersey is limited by the statutes of limitations. Speaking with a lawyer early is advisable in order to protect your rights.
Consult a personal injury lawyer
The Rockland and Bergen County personal injury lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman P.C. in Rockland County, New York and Bergen County, New Jersey are adept at navigating the often complicated and confusing path of proving a slip and fall claim. If you have been injured in a fall because of someone else’s carelessness, call today for a no-obligation case review.
Additional Slip and Fall Injury Resources:
- NY Courts, Statute of Limitations, https://www.nycourts.gov/courthelp/GoingToCourt/SOLchart.shtml
- Justia, 2013 New Jersey Revised Statutes Title 2A – Administration of Civil and Criminal Justice Section 2A:14-2 – Actions for injury caused by wrongful act, appointment of guardian ad litem, http://law.justia.com/codes/new-jersey/2013/title-2a/section-2a-14-2
Falls are a primary cause of serious injury and death in older Americans, cautions the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to their Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, accidental falls are the number one cause of death in elders aged 65 and older. The agency’s press release was issued late last month in conjunction with the 9th Annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day.
The report comes at a pivotal time considering that more than 10,000 Baby Boomers in the U.S. are turning 65 every day. Health officials warn that the rate of fall-related deaths in American elders is expected to escalate dramatically, resulting in major cost increases unless preventive steps are taken. Statistics illustrate the staggering cost associated with fall-related injuries in our older population. In 2014, an estimated 29 million falls among seniors cost Medicare more than $31 billion.
Falls herald end of independence for some seniors
Falls frequently result in serious injuries, and the elderly are more prone to suffering lasting complications. CDC statistics show that 20 percent of all falls result in broken bones or head injury, and more than 95 percent of hip fractures in seniors are caused by falling sideways. Falls are also the leading cause of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in people aged 65 and older.
“Older adult falls are increasing and, sadly, often herald the end of independence,” noted Dr. Tom Frieden, CDC Director. Many of these tumbles are entirely preventable, adds Frieden, who stresses that health care professionals, families and friends can be proactive in fall prevention.
Many older adults who experience fall-related injuries will never fully return to their old selves. They may be confined to a wheelchair, or resign themselves to using a walker or cane. A vast majority of seniors lose a part of the independence as they become frailer.
Fall prevention tips
Older Americans who are on various medications, have vision problems and are already having more difficulty with balance and walking are at higher risk of serious falls. CDC officials offer some simple but effective measures to prevent falls in the elderly:
- Ensure older family members have annual eye exams and current prescriptions
- Outfit stairs, bathrooms and showers with hand rails
- Declutter the house and living areas, removing throw rugs or other items that may be trip hazards
- Fix uneven flooring or loose carpeting
- Routinely review medications that may increase risk of falls
- Encourage use of sneakers and other stable foot wear
- Speak to elders about balance problems and recent falls
- Watch for sudden changes in behavior that could signify problems with medication
Committed to client success
Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman are highly credentialed personal injury attorneys serving residents throughout New York and New Jersey. Based on theories of premises liability, victims of accidental slips, trips or falls caused by unsafe conditions may be entitled to significant monetary recovery. When faced with catastrophic injuries that have the potential to undermine the quality of your life or those whom you love most, it’s imperative to ally yourself with seasoned legal advocates who can fight for fair compensation.
Call 888.608.9232 to arrange a free case evaluation with Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman today.
- CDC, Falls are leading cause of injury and death in older Americans, cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0922-older-adult-falls.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Important Facts about Falls, http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html
- CBS News, Leading cause of injury, death in older Americans is on the rise, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/falls-leading-cause-of-injury-and-death-among-older-americans/
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident due to a dangerous condition or property owner’s negligence, the property owner can be held liable. To prove liability in a slip and fall accident, you must establish the following: the party’s responsibility in causing the accident and the party’s negligence (i.e. by causing or failing to prevent the slip and fall accident).
For a property owner to be legally responsible for the injuries you suffered in a slip and fall accident, the following must apply:
- The owner of the premises (or the owner’s employee) must have caused the dangerous condition such as the slippery floor,the worn or torn carpet, etc.
- The owner of the premises (or the owner’s employee) was aware of the dangerous condition,but didn’t do anything to fix it.
- The owner of the premises (or the owner’s employee) should have known about the dangerous condition and acted reasonably by removing or repairing it.
The following questions can determine whether the property owner is liable for the obstacle or the condition that caused the slip and fall accident:
- Had the dangerous condition been there long enough that the owner should have known about it?
- Was there a legitimate reason for the object to exist where you slipped and fell?
- If there was no legitimate reason for the object to be there,would it have been safer if the object was removed or covered?
- Was there a safer place the property owner could have placed the object without greater inconvenience or expense?
- Could a warning sign or a barrier have prevented people from slipping and falling?
- Was the accident contributed to by insufficient or broken lighting?
Proving you didn’t cause the accident
In slip and fall accident claims, most states follow the rule of comparative negligence. This means that your negligence contributed to the slip and fall accident. In that case, the award you receive for your injuries and other damages may be lessened according to the amount of comparative fault. Here are ways to determine if someone contributed to his or her own accident.
- Was there a legitimate reason for you to be on the property owner’s premises when the accident happened?
- Should the owner have anticipated you (or someone in a similar situation) to be there?
- Was there a way you would have noticed or avoided the dangerous condition, or lessened the chances of the slip and fall?
- Was there a barrier or a warning sign indicating the dangerous condition that led to your slip and fall accident?
- Did any activities you engaged in contribute to your slip and fall accident? For example talking on the phone, texting while walking, jumping or running, etc.
When proving slip and fall liability, describe what you were doing clearly so that an insurance adjuster will understand that you were not careless.
Contact slip and fall attorneys at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer&Graifman P.C.
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, contact us today. Our experienced slip and fall attorneys will protect your legal rights and help you obtain the compensation you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 201-690-7735/845-459-0001/800-711-5258 or fax at 845-356-4335. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The property owner is responsible if someone slips and falls due to improper maintenance of the premises because of “Premises liability”. The owner(s) of the property must ensure that their properties are safe and free from hazardous conditions (tripping hazardous, slippery floors, poor outdoor lighting, etc.).
The aftermath of a slip and fall accident can be very serious and it may cause permanent disability. A slip and fall accident will also leave you with other issues including, medical bills, loss of income and other related expenses.
Types of Premises Liability
There are three distinct types of Premises Liability:
- Homeowner Liability: The homeowner must ensure that their property is safe. They may be held responsible if someone slips and falls due to their negligence.
- Renter and Landlord Liability: It is a complex matter when someone is injured in a slip and fall accident in a rented property. The landlord may be held responsible because it is his/her duty to ensure that the property is safe and free from hazardous conditions.
- Business Owner Liability: A common form of premises liability is business owner liability. Business owners are responsible for keeping their premises free from the hazardous conditions (wet floor, salted sidewalks and lobby weather mats, etc.).
What is Premises Owner Responsibility?
Property owners are responsible for the safety of their guests, customers or tenants. If someone is injured as a result of a slip and fall on the premises of a negligent owner, the owner is liable for providing compensation to the injured for:
- Medical Bills
- Missed Pay Checks
- Pain and Suffering
- Disability or Disfigurement
- And more
What Must Be True?
The following must be true for a property owner to be held liable for an injury suffered through a slip and fall on their premises:
- The property owner caused the dangerous condition such as a spill or other slippery, hazardous surface.
- The property owner ignored the hazardous condition, such as a snow-covered walkway that was not cleared in a reasonable timeframe.
- The property owner did not correct the hazardous condition even after being notified (for example: notifying a landlord of a broken step but it was not fixed, and it resulted in an injury).
Have You Been Injured in a Slip and Fall Accident? Contact Us!
Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman P.C. has experience in helping victims of slip and fall accidents. If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall accident caused by the negligence of a property owner, call our slip and fall accident lawyer at (201) 690-7735/ (845) 459-0001/ (800) 711-5258.