Slip and falls happen all the time in New Jersey. Often, the accident and the resulting injuries could have been prevented if the property owner had acted responsibly to avoid dangerous conditions. If something like this has happened to you, there is some important information that you should know about your legal rights to achieve the justice you deserve.
If you or a loved one has fallen on someone else’s property in New Jersey due to a dangerous condition the owner failed to rectify, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for your injuries. Identifying who is liable and why can be complicated, so you should speak to an attorney to determine your options. You only have two years to file your slip and fall lawsuit in New Jersey, so acting quickly and decisively is critical.
To schedule a free consultation with our slip and fall lawyers of Legal Care New Jersey, call us at (732) 838-9769.
Duty of Property Owners in Slip and Fall Cases in New Jersey
Suing for injuries sustained in a slip and fall in New Jersey requires a showing that someone was responsible for preventing the slip and fall. Typically, that responsible person or entity is the property owner. Property owners in New Jersey owe a legal duty of care to anyone they allow or invite onto their property. Restaurants, retail stores, and hotels are just a few examples of businesses that own property they must keep safe for customers.
To meet their duty, the property owner must take reasonably prudent measures to prevent harm from coming to those on the property. “Reasonably prudent measures” might include conducting routine investigations to discover hazardous conditions, repairing those conditions, or otherwise clearly notifying those on the property of the existence of those conditions.
To recover in a slip and fall lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove that the property owner owed them a duty of care and that the property owner breached that duty. In other words, the property owner must have failed to live up to their standard of care. The standard in a particular situation will be determined by comparing the defendant’s actions or inactions to what a reasonably prudent person in a similar situation would have done.
Third-Party Liability in Slip and Fall Cases in New Jersey
The property owner is not always liable for a slip and fall in New Jersey. Property owners may outsource some of their maintenance responsibilities to other companies, such as a snow removal company or a custodial service. If the property owner contracts with another company to handle the issue that ultimately caused the slip and fall, the other company may bear the liability for the accident.
For example, suppose that John slipped on a patch of ice in a parking lot on his way into a grocery store and fractured his arm. If the grocery store owned the parking lot and did not contract with a snow removal company to handle the icy conditions, the grocery store would be liable. If the grocery store hired a snow removal company to deal with the issue and the snow removal company failed to clear the ice or notify customers of the ice, the snow removal company would inherit the liability. If a property management company owns the parking lot instead of the grocery store (a common situation in shared retail parking lots), the property management company would be liable.
These situations can become complicated when several liable parties are involved. It is always helpful to consult with a slip and fall attorney to determine which parties the liability may reach for your slip and fall injuries.
Damages for Slip and Fall Cases in New Jersey
To recover after a slip and fall in New Jersey, you must be able to prove that you suffered injuries as a result of your accident. Proving injuries is best accomplished by way of medical records that document the harms that you sustained. For this reason, you should always seek medical care immediately after a slip and fall.
If you wait too long to evaluate and treat your injuries, you open yourself up to several potential consequences. A slip and fall defendant could argue that you incurred the injuries after the slip and fall. An extended period of time between the accident and receiving medical care might suggest to a jury that the plaintiff did not feel that their injuries were serious.
Slip and fall plaintiffs in New Jersey may recover damages (or monetary compensation for their injuries) for several reasons. Firstly, damages may include any medical costs associated with the injuries. Compensable medical expenses include emergency procedures, ambulance rides, physical therapy, specialist appointments, and prescriptions, to name a few. Plaintiffs can also recover lost wages if they were forced to miss work due to the recovery from their injuries. If the injuries cause long-term consequences, such as chronic pain or damage to personal relationships, a court may compensate the plaintiff proportionally for their pain and suffering.
The value of damages varies dramatically between cases. Therefore, it is difficult to predict what a court might award without an assessment of the facts of your case, which you can get from a consultation with one of the slip and fall attorneys from Legal Care New Jersey.
Potential Settlements for Common Slip and Fall Injuries in New Jersey
A settlement is a private agreement between the plaintiff and the defendant (and often the defendant’s insurance company). The nature of your injuries may determine what kind of settlement our slip and fall lawyers can help you negotiate.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Injuries to ligaments, muscles, tendons, and nerves are common examples of soft tissue injuries. The severity and extent of soft tissue injuries in your case depend on how you fell. In some cases, these injuries can be severe and painful.
Proving these damages can be challenging. Soft tissue injuries sometimes heal more quickly than other injuries, and many plaintiffs have recovered by the time they are in front of a jury. As such, it is imperative to get immediate medical attention so a doctor can treat and document any soft tissue injuries. Your medical records are of paramount importance to your potential settlement.
What kind of settlement you can get depends on various factors, including the severity of the soft tissue injuries, the cost of treatment, and how these injuries impacted your life. While the severity and cost of your injuries may be demonstrated by presenting medical records, proving how they impacted your life is trickier.
Often, plaintiffs with soft-tissue injuries are in a lot of pain, especially when nerve damage is involved. Alternatively, plaintiffs might experience weakness and numbness, making it harder to use certain parts of their bodies. Often, injured plaintiffs cannot return to work or complete ordinary daily tasks like cooking, using the bathroom, or bathing.
Settlement offers from insurance companies for soft tissue injuries tend to be low, and our slip and fall attorneys can help you fight for a fair settlement that covers all your damages.
Broken bones and fractures are common in slip and fall accidents and should be accounted for in a settlement agreement. Some fractures are relatively simple. For example, a clean break often heals faster and more easily. A more complicated fracture might heal slower, be more painful, and require more extensive medical care.
Broken bones and fractures can lead to significant settlements, especially when these injuries prevent you from returning to work or take a long time to heal. Proving these injuries often requires details from your medical records.
Head and Brain Injuries
Brain injuries can be devastating, and some plaintiffs are left with life-long disabilities or complications. Even arguably minor brain injuries, like concussions, can leave injured plaintiffs with long-term pain, memory issues, and other complications. As such, brain injuries tend to result in larger settlements. If the defendant or their insurance company tries to lowball you in settlement talks, our slip and fall attorneys can help you fight for the compensation you deserve.
Some common brain injuries include concussions, edema or brain swelling, hematomas, and skull fractures. Treatments often involve delicate procedures, and they can be quite expensive. Injured plaintiffs often require long-term care, and settlement agreements should cover future medical costs.
Our slip and fall lawyers can also account for how these injuries affect your life. Can you work? Are you disabled? Do you live with chronic pain or headaches? What is your quality of life? These factors might be significant in your case and can help drive up the value of a potential settlement.
Statute of Limitations for Slip and Falls in New Jersey
The statute of limitations is a law that imposes a strict deadline for plaintiffs to file lawsuits. In many personal injury cases, including slip and fall accidents, the statute of limitations is found under N.J.S.A. § 2A:14-2(a) and imposes a 2-year deadline. If you miss your deadline, you cannot proceed with your lawsuit or recover any damages, barring special circumstances. Preparing a lawsuit can be time-consuming, so it is important to act fast. Our slip and fall lawyers can assist you.
Minors and Plaintiffs with Disabilities
Many plaintiffs cannot file a lawsuit on their own, often due to circumstances they have no control over. For example, plaintiffs who were minors when they were injured or have a disability that prevents them from filing the case might have extra time to file.
Minors and people with disabilities might have extra time to file lawsuits under N.J.S.A. § 2A:14-21. According to this law, minors may have the statute of limitations tolled until they turn 18. Once the minor plaintiff is 18, the 2-year statute begins to run, giving them until their 20th birthday to file the case.
It should be noted that a disability in the legal sense – at least as far as having the statute of limitations tolled is concerned – is not necessarily the same as a disability diagnosed by a doctor. Generally, a disability for tolling purposes is a mental impairment that prevents the plaintiff from understanding their own legal rights. The plaintiff may have the statute of limitations tolled until their disability subsides or ceases. However long the statute is tolled may vary from case to case.
Defendants Cannot be Served Notice
There are multiple critical steps in a lawsuit, and one of the earliest important steps involves notifying the defendant of the lawsuit. Contrary to what some people think, the courts do not notify defendants that they are being sued. Instead, plaintiffs are tasked with locating defendants and serving them proper notice. Serving notice is more complex than merely informing the defendant of the lawsuit, and our slip and fall lawyers can help you.
The statute of limitations might run down if the defendant cannot be found, and the plaintiff could lose their right to sue. According to N.J.S.A. § 2A:14-22(a), plaintiffs can toll the statute of limitations if the defendant cannot be served notice because they are outside the jurisdiction (i.e., New Jersey). To take advantage of this law, plaintiffs should exercise due diligence, including long-arm statutes, to try and serve the defendant.
If you cannot find the defendant to serve them notice of the lawsuit, even after using long-arm statutes, our slip and fall lawyers can help you work to have the statute tolled while we work on notifying the defendant.
How Our New Jersey Slip and Fall Attorneys Can Help You
Our slip and fall lawyers can help you file your claim, take your case to court, or reach an out-of-court settlement. An attorney should have the skills and knowledge to navigate complex legal procedures and dense laws effectively.
Although settlements often take less time than a full trial, this is not always true. Settlement negotiations could be contentious and drawn out, and an attorney should be able to help you stand your ground while arguing for the most compensation possible. Similarly, the litigation process is complicated and rife with procedural rules. Our slip and fall attorneys are familiar with the ins and outs of courtroom procedure and can help you effectively argue your case.
You must also consider the issues of damages and evidence. A lawyer can help you accurately evaluate your damages so that you receive as much compensation as possible while gathering evidence to support your claims.
Get Your Slip and Fall Injuries Covered in New Jersey Today
Call Legal Care New Jersey at (732) 838-9769 for a free case review with our slip and fall attorneys.