Slipping, or tripping and falling due to a dangerous condition on the premises can happen inside or outside a building, and be caused by such conditions as bad flooring, wet floors, poorly light steps, or, in the case of outdoor accidents, weather-related or hidden hazards. An icy patch outside a door or a crack or pothole can be the cause of a slip and fall in a parking lot, for instance.
Any time someone trips and falls it can be a dangerous event. When one loses their bearings for some reason in a fall, gravity takes control, sending them into free-fall towards the Earth. This creates a significant force which it will be absorbed by only two possible objects; the body that’s falling and the ground their falling on. If the ground is a surface such as concrete or asphalt, it will absorb a lot less of the impact, leaving the full brunt of the force reverberating throughout the human body.
Unsafe Conditions Can Lead to Injury
When you are involved in a slip, trip and fall incident, sometimes it can be difficult to figure out exactly what caused the incident. With a seconds change in terrain below them, anyone could be sent to the ground with little to no idea as to why they fell. And the fall, just like a car accident, an injury may not become fully apparent until some time after the fact. It’s natural for some people to attempt to ‘walk-it-off’, only to realize minutes, hours, or even days later that you may have been seriously hurt.
Property Owners have a "Duty of Care"
When property owners fail to comply with their duty of care, not maintaining safe conditions that could result in potential injury, it is their fault when someone does subsequently trip and fall. The rules however are different depending upon whether the property was commercial property or residential property. The rules are also different depending on the reason you were on the property. For example, the legal duty owed to a trespasser is much less than the legal duty owed to someone who is on the property to conduct business. There could have been warnings given, many times proprietors know full well a step may need to be repaired or a curb is crumbling, but choose not to fix it to save costs. Or, in the case of when remodeling or construction is being done, signs must be posted to alert patrons of potentially adverse conditions. These aren’t just common sense practices, but laws put into place by the state of New Jersey to protect people from injury that every single property must comply with.
When those rules are not followed and someone gets hurt, the only recourse you can take is to contact a skilled attorney who has had experience in handling slip and fall claims. Property owners may be reluctant to disclose unfortunate details which highlight their own negligence, for fear of being made responsible to pay for the injuries they have caused.
Businesses Must Be Maintained and Kept Safe
Dangerous conditions can exist in not just crumbling curbs and steps and on snowy surfaces, but in nearly any business establishment if they are not properly maintained. Maintenance does not just include performing occasional structural repairs, but to the overall upkeep of the property. If heavy foot traffic is expected through a certain premises, then the areas where people are walking must be free and clear for movement. This isn’t just my opinion, this is the law in the state of New Jersey. Should there be an obstacle in the middle of the area where people are moving through, or a drink spills leaving a large puddle and no one cleans it up, or a store’s item breaks into countless pieces which could be easily tripped on right in the middle of the showroom floor, the business has a duty to prepare for and remove these obstacles in a timely fashion. That means employing maintenance workers’ and giving them the proper tools to ensure that wherever people are expected to be, it is safe for them to traverse and move freely.
But, if one is involved in a fall and injured, how would they know if the establishment is taking all the necessary precautions so that these situations could have been avoided? With the help of an experienced attorney, we can look into the business’ hiring practices and their maintenance policy. It could be possible they were understaffed, or maybe the staff themselves weren’t trained and given the tools and instructions needed to ensure safe pathways. We won’t know until we dig deeper into the business’ practices, through private investigators, any available surveillance videos, deposition testimonies, and other techniques.
How We Handle "Slip and Fall" Claims
In our experience in dealing with slip and fall claims, we have seen every type of reaction from property owners when they discover that they are involved in a lawsuit. Sometimes they are open and willing to share details such as work-site-history and possible surveillance tapes which may show exactly how the incident happened. Other times they are not, and it takes legal efforts to get accident reports or video showing the incident That is why we aren’t afraid to bring out private investigator’s, who will take numerous photographs and measurements of the scene to help support our clients’ claim. They may even be able to find a witness who could have seen the incident, or even seen that the structure was wet & slippery or was crumbling and needed repairs. More often than not, when viewed upon with a second set of eyes, a seemingly small problem can actually be an extraordinarily dangerous set of conditions.
All slip and fall accidents are covered by negligence law and deal with the concept of premises liability.
Premises liability stipulates that property owners have a “duty of care” to see that their property is safe. This includes insuring that the building has no structural defects that could cause an accident, both inside and out. In some states the property owner may also have a duty to reduce problem areas caused by weather.
Common Structural Defects
•Loose floor mats, rugs, or tiles
•Water on the floor
•Poorly lit stairs or steps
•Cracks or holes in sidewalks or parking lots
•Weather-related hazards include
A plaintiff or claimant also has a duty to exercise reasonable care, so if any action of yours contributed to the accident, you may share in the negligence.
During Winter, a common issue is Black Ice or Re-Freeze. Re-freeze or black ice is a known phenomenon and can be very dangerous to people walking on it. One of the reasons that black ice is extremely dangerous is because the ice itself tends to blend in with the asphalt, thus the term “black ice.” For More Information on Black Ice, Click Here.
What to do in case of a "Slip and Fall" event
•Determine what made you fall and if it could have been anticipated and prevented.
•If anyone saw you fall, be sure you get the names and addresses of all witnesses.
•Try to note the conditions in the area – Was the lighting poor? Was there some substance that made you slip?
•If you did slip because of something on the floor, try to obtain a sample.
•Try to get pictures of the area.
•Report any such accident to the manager or owner and insist that they make a record of it.
•It is your responsibility to prove that a hazard existed and that it was the cause of your accident.
Talk to an Attorney
If you or a loved one have been involved in a slip and fall accident and are looking for quality legal representation, call 856-616-1300 to get in contact with an attorney today.
The Law Offices of John Morelli
203 West Somerdale Road
Voorhees, New Jersey 08043.