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Law Offices of John Morelli
A Personal Injury Firm Serving All Of South Jersey

Slip-And-Fall Accidents That Result In Serious Injuries

Slipping or tripping and falling due to a dangerous condition can happen inside or outside a building and can be caused by such conditions as bad flooring, wet floors, poorly lit 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 cause a slip-and-fall in a parking lot, for instance.

Any time someone trips and falls, it can be dangerous. When one loses their bearings in a fall, gravity takes control. This creates significant force that will be absorbed by only two possible objects: the body that's falling and the ground they're 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 body.

Unsafe Conditions Can Lead To An Injury

When you are involved in a slip- or trip-and-fall incident, sometimes it can be difficult to figure out exactly what caused it. Any injury may not become fully apparent until sometime 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 they may have been seriously hurt.

Property Owners Have A Duty Of Care

When property owners fail to comply with their duty of care, creating unsafe conditions that could result in potential injury, it is their fault when someone trips and falls. The rules, however, are different depending upon whether the property is commercial 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. Warnings could have been 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 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 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 lawyer who has had experience handling slip-and-fall claims. Property owners may be reluctant to disclose unfortunate details that highlight their own negligence for fear of being made to pay for the injuries they have caused.

Businesses Must Be Maintained And Kept Safe

Dangerous conditions can exist in nearly any business if it is not properly maintained. Maintenance includes performing occasional structural repairs and overall upkeep of the property. If heavy foot traffic is expected through a certain area, it must be kept free and clear for movement. This is the law in 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 an item in a store breaks into countless pieces that could be easily tripped on right in the middle of the showroom floor, the business has a duty to 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 move freely.

But if someone is injured in a fall, how would they know if the establishment is taking all the necessary precautions to try and avoid these situations? An experienced personal injury attorney can look into the business's hiring practices and its maintenance policy. It could be understaffed or maybe the staff wasn't trained and given the tools and instructions needed to ensure safe pathways. We won't know until we dig deeper into the business's practices through private investigators, any available surveillance videos, deposition testimony and other sources.

How We Handle Slip-And-Fall Claims

In our experience 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 that 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 investigators, who will take numerous photographs and measurements of the scene to help support our clients' claims. They may even be able to find a witness who saw the incident or saw that the structure was wet and slippery or was crumbling and needed repairs. More often than not, when viewed 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 laws stipulate that property owners have a duty of care to see that their property is safe. This includes ensuring 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 that lead to injury include:

  • Loose floor mats, rugs or tiles
  • Water on the floor
  • Poorly lit stairs
  • Cracks or holes in sidewalks or parking lots
  • Standing water
  • Icy spots

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 refreeze, which can be dangerous to walk on. One reason black ice is extremely dangerous is because the ice itself tends to blend in with the asphalt, thus the term "black ice."

What To Do In Case Of A Slip-And-Fall

Following a slip-and-fall accident, you should:

  • Determine what made you fall and if it could have been anticipated and prevented.
  • Get the names and addresses of all witnesses.

  • Try to note conditions in the area — Was the lighting poor? Was there a 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 caused your accident.

Talk To An Attorney

If you or a loved one has been involved in a slip-and-fall accident and you are looking for quality legal representation, call 856-528-3205 to contact the Law Offices of John Morelli in Cherry Hill today.

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