Help! Know What Laws Apply When You Fall and Are Injured
- Dan T. Matrafajlo
- Fri Aug 2017
- Premises Liability,
While walking to the neighborhood pharmacy on the corner to get your medicine, you pass several private homes, one of which had a broken sidewalk. You trip and fall, injuring your shoulder. Two days later you are in so much pain that you have to go to the emergency room, where they tell you that you have a torn rotator cuff and will probably need surgery. You don’t have very good health insurance and have already incurred a lot of out of pocket medical expenses. Can you sue the property owner where you fell?
This is a common occurrence. A fall on private property in New Jersey presents an interesting set of circumstances. When considering the potential of filing a lawsuit, there are legal restrictions concerning whether or not you can bring a claim. This type of action is known as a premises liability claim.
Without question, this type of lawsuit will require an investigation. First, comes the matter of determining the identity of the property owner. Different rules apply when it comes to an owner occupied private residence. Additionally, a rental property with tenants would be considered a commercial property. The distinction is that the owner is making a profit from residents who are living at the property.
What Circumstances Constitute Your Ability To Make A Claim?
Candidly, what we’re about to tell you next may take you by surprise. You would think a private homeowner would be responsible for the maintenance of the sidewalk. Therefore, it would stand to follow that the property owner would be liable for a person’s injuries in the event that they allowed it to fall into disrepair. However, that is not the case.
In all likelihood, this scenario will come as a surprise to you if you slip and fall on private property. Of course, there are some exceptions. For instance, what if the homeowner actively did something to cause the hazard which resulted in an injury? Obviously, this is one of the many reasons you need an experienced slip and fall attorney to investigate your accident.
Keep in mind that the situation with commercial property owners is more complex. For example, if there are one or more tenants living on the premises, the owner/landlord has a duty to make sure that the property is kept in a safe condition. This obligation not only applies to both the tenant(s) and their guests, but also for the general public.
The reasoning for this is because when you visit a commercial property, it’s usually for reasons that further the profit-generating aspect of the owner’s business. Additionally, this rule also applies to a resident at a multiple-family dwelling. The law prevents you from filing suit against the resident personally, but you can sue the property owner. Even though the sidewalk is considered to be public, a commercial property owner is responsible for its maintenance and liable for any injury occurring because of a failure to maintain. Under NJ law, the owner knew or should have known there was a dangerous condition on their property, specifically a broken sidewalk, which could cause an accident.
Be aware that you have a clear cut right to sue in the event your slip and fall occurs on the property of a multiple-family dwelling such as an apartment complex. Like a commercial property, the multi-family property owner has a legal responsibility to keep all residents and their visitors safe from hazards that could result in injury. So just like the provisions governing commercial property, if your fall occurred on the premises of a multi-family dwelling, then you most likely have a case.
When you suffer injuries due to someone else’s negligence, the best thing to do is to seek out legal counsel. You should retain an attorney with the resources to investigate your claim and determine if you can make a case.
We Can Help
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Beninato & Matrafaljo have represented many clients injured in all types of premises liability claims. We believe that it is important to secure experienced legal advice to secure an award for your damages. Contact us to see how we can assist you.