Accidents happen when least expected and can occur anywhere at any time. It is not uncommon these days to see more and more businesses making an effort to reduce workplace incidents for both staff and customers by implementing basic safety training and taking the correct precautions to mitigate risks. However, it is not entirely perfect, and an accident like a slip and fall is still a significant injury that occurs virtually everywhere, which often results in some kind of lawsuit. It is important to understand what constitutes a slip and fall incident and how to identify who is at fault, how long a case may take to settle, and the steps you can take getting a lawyer, depending on the state you live in, particularly if you live in New Jersey.
What Is A Slip and Fall?
A slip and fall is a term used to describe a personal injury in which a person has injured themselves on another person’s property. It might also be known as a “premises liability” case, which is the broader category these kinds of accidents fall under. There are many ways for a slip and fall to happen, the most common being somebody tripping or slipping due to what might be considered a dangerous condition, such as torn carpet, wet or icy floors, poor lighting, or even broken sidewalks. Even if an injury has occurred on another person’s property, determining who is at fault for the damage can be challenging and time-consuming.
For example, one of the many slip and fall settlements in 2020 that took place in New Jersey was finally settled for $1.9 million in favor of the plaintiff, who had sustained several critical injuries to his spine and shoulders after slipping on untreated ice in a restaurant parking lot. The accident itself actually happened in 2007 and took thirteen years to finally reach an agreement, showing just how much of a strenuous process filing a claim and getting the compensation necessary can be. But how does the legal system prove who is at fault?
Who Is the Responsible Party?
There is no definitive way to find who is at fault for a slip and fall accident. In large, it could be the negligence of either party being careless and not considering the environment or situation they might be in, in which an accident is very likely. This is especially true if the property owner had already taken the proper steps to prevent one from happening.
Proper steps might include:
- Putting up a wet floor sign
- Ensuring adequate lighting in dimly lit spaces
- Making sure to salt any icy sidewalks alongside their business property
Other precautions might also include:
- Blocking off dangerous stairwells
- Keeping pathways clear of objects people might trip over
- Steering away traffic from cracks or large potholes in the road
Another case in New Jersey was settled after a woman was walking her dog behind her apartment complex when she fell into a sinkhole and injured her knee, causing nerve damage. It was one of the top slip and fall settlements before 2020. The apartment complex did not take steps to prevent the situation, and there was no way the woman could have known the sinkhole was there. The sinkhole was covered by snow, and the property was found at fault, settling at $2.3 million.
To be held legally responsible, the property owner
- Must have caused the spill, worn or torn spot, or other slippery or dangerous surfaces
- Must have known of the dangerous surface and did nothing about it
- Should have known of the hazardous surface as a reasonable property caretaker
Other times, an accident can simply be an accident that neither party could have foreseen. The law will look into who might have been careless in the situation and the injuries sustained when determining which party is at fault.
Filing A Claim
If you have sustained even just a minor injury, filing a claim can still be an option, even if it was partially your fault. In New Jersey, the property owner is solely responsible for any kind of slip and fall incident that occurs on the premises, and by filing a claim, you can help ensure proper action will be taken to prevent any similar accidents happening to others the way it did to you in the future.
After your incident, it is best to first see a doctor and have a medical record of your injuries and any subsequent visits to receive the proper payout if you win your case. Afterward, New Jersey lawyers also suggest not making any recorded statements to insurance companies that might reach out to you without first consulting a proper slip and fall attorney. These insurers are trained to ask questions that can help them reduce your overall compensation or even deny your claim.
Your attorney will begin processing your case, and it could take anywhere from six months to two years or more, depending on the situation. For comparison, there are still cases being worked on that focus on slip and fall settlements in 2020.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a recent slip and fall incident, or have the unfortunate circumstance of becoming one in the future, take the proper action to protect yourself. It’s essential to seek medical attention for your injuries and consult an attorney to represent your case to receive the proper compensation you may be entitled to. Hurt Get Help has the network you need to find legal help…fast. Submit a claim, and we can connect you with a licensed and experienced workers comp attorney in your state.