What Happens if I Get Injured on Someone Else’s Property?
Premises liability is the part of personal injury law that deals with injuries which occur on other people’s properties, or premises. The most common type of premises liability claims are slip and fall accidents, which are often caused by unsafe property conditions. If somebody is seriously injured on another person’s property, be it residential or commercial, the injury victim may be able to recover compensation depending on how and why the injury occurred.
Types of Accidents in Premises Liability Claims
As noted above, many premises liability claims involve slip and falls, also known as slip, trip, and fall accidents. Accidental falls are extraordinarily common, especially:
- Among elderly people, who tend to suffer from vision loss, difficulty balancing, and loss of coordination. The CDC reports that among adults aged 65 or older, falls are the number one cause of death and injury, including traumatic brain injury (TBI).
- In the construction industry, which OSHA ranks among the most dangerous U.S. industries in terms of fall-related deaths and injuries.
- During fall and winter, when sidewalks are coated with slippery ice or damp leaves.
While somewhat less common, other types of premises liability cases might involve accidents like:
- Dog bites and other animal attacks.
- Physical or sexual assault resulting from inadequate security staffing.
- Injuries caused by falling objects.
Whatever the cause of the injury may be, the victim could potentially be able to recover compensation – provided certain factors are in place.
What is Negligence?
Being injured on another person’s property doesn’t automatically mean the injured person has grounds for a lawsuit. In order for a personal injury plaintiff to be successful in court, he or she must be able to prove that the defendant’s actions (or lack thereof) somehow caused or contributed to the plaintiff’s accident. This is where the concept of negligence, which is critical to all types of personal injury claims, enters the picture.
If a defendant was negligent, it means that he or she failed to take the normal, reasonable steps that were necessary to prevent injury or death. Let’s look at each component that goes into proving negligence, using an imaginary slip and fall example.
- First, the defendant must have had a “duty of care” toward the plaintiff.
- Business owners are responsible for keeping their customers and employees safe while they shop, dine, work etc. on the premises.
- Next, the duty of care must have been “breached,” or broken in a significant (material) way.
- The business owner knew their store had some broken floorboards, yet failed to repair the floorboards or identify the area with caution signs.
- The breach caused the victim to be injured (“causation”).
- An unknowing customer walks over the broken floorboards, which then cave in and send the customer tumbling to the ground. The customer hits their head and breaks their nose. But for the broken floorboards, the accident would not have happened.
- The victim was harmed by the breach (“damages”).
- The customer has to go to the hospital to have expensive corrective surgery to repair the broken nose.
- If the customer fell but wasn’t injured, their claim would not be successful because they were not actually harmed by the fall.
Who is Liable for My Injury?
Many slip and fall cases, like the hypothetical example described above, stem from negligent property maintenance. It is not uncommon for business owners to deliberately cut inspection and/or maintenance corners in order to keep their operating costs down.
Common property maintenance problems that cause slip and fall accidents include loose carpeting, loose wiring, leaks and wet spots, poor lighting, broken handrails, and uneven flooring. If a floor is wet or has been freshly waxed, it should be clearly marked with a caution sign so that customers, visitors, and employees know to avoid the hazard. If a property owner fails to take adequate steps to prevent harm from occurring, he or she could be held liable for any deaths or injuries which result.
If you or someone you love was injured on another person’s property in New Jersey, you should speak to an attorney right away. Don’t assume that your situation is hopeless, or that you don’t have a claim, until you consult with a personal injury lawyer. If you were hurt because somebody else was careless about safety, you deserve to have the situation looked into. The party who was at fault for your injuries should be held accountable for their actions.
Attorney Joseph Lombardo has more than 20 years of experience helping New Jersey residents recover compensation for serious injuries and the wrongful death of loved ones. Joseph will listen to your account of what happened, give you an honest assessment of the strength of your claim, and provide free legal advice about the steps you could take. To set up your free and confidential legal consultation with Joseph, call Lombardo Law at (609) 445-4300 today.