How to Tell if I Have a Slip and Fall Claim in NJ

September 29, 2020 | Chris Costello, Esq.

At a first glance, slip and fall NJ cases seem fairly straightforward. If a person slips and falls on someone else’s property, then it qualifies, right? If only the law were that simple… While this can be the case, there are several other factors to consider before determining if your case has merit and can be pursued as a personal injury claim. Even when it fits, you may need to confirm that you have a valid claim with a slip and fall lawyer prior to moving forward.

If your claim qualifies, you may be eligible for compensation. To receive this money, you will need to file an insurance claim. When insurance companies refuse to cooperate, injured persons may need to bring the case into a court of law by filing a personal injury claim. Regardless of the route you take, New Jersey laws can affect your slip and fall case for better or worse.

What is the statute of limitations for a slip and fall claim in NJ?

Statutes of limitations are time constraints New Jersey, and all other states, impose on claims and legal matters. Every state puts time constraints on how long a person can wait before filing a suit or pressing charges for legal matters whether criminal or civil. If you file your case after the statute of limitations has expired, the employer or its insurance company may bring this up in court as grounds for dismissal of your claim. After the statute of limitations has expired, you are forever barred from pursuing the claim and are no longer entitled to receive compensation. 

In New Jersey, the statute of limitations on personal injury cases is two years from the date of the fall. There are some situations where the court may consider a period of pause to extend the statute of limitations, but these cases are rare. Only an experienced civil attorney can confirm whether your case may qualify for this.

What Are the Facts Plaintiffs Must Prove To Ensure a Valid Case?

Unfortunately, New Jersey courts regularly dismiss cases because they do not meet all the necessary requirements. In most of these cases, issues stemmed from difficulties proving the property owner was negligent. Cornell Law School identifies the following as four important factors to prove negligence for a personal injury case:

  1. The defendant had a legal duty to the injured party, such as providing a safe space to do business.
  2. The defendant breached this duty, such as failing to warn visitors of previous pressure washing on the roof.
  3. The person suffered an injury, such as slipping and falling in the mud created on the ground floor after the pressure washing.
  4. The injured party can prove that the injuries resulted from the defendant’s breach of duty, such as its failure to put up a warning sign.

 If these four facts can be proven you are more likely to succeed with a civil slip and fall lawsuit.

A bonus important fact to consider with a slip and fall lawsuit is, “would a reasonable person have been able to see the hazard and avoid it?” For example, if a clear liquid was on the floor and could not be seen by a reasonable person then the store would likely be more liable if they had not placed hazard signs.  

What Is Comparative Negligence and How Does It Affect Slip and Fall Cases?

New Jersey is one of several states that include a clause for comparative negligence in personal injury laws. This means that courts may assign some responsibility for the incident to the injured parties. The courts usually calculate this as a percentage and tend to assign portions of the full 100% to the defendant and plaintiff.

Being assigned a portion of the blame does not necessarily challenge the legitimacy of your case. However, the court may choose to dismiss your claim if it believes you are more 50% responsible for the slip and fall accident. Even if the court determines you are less than 50% responsible, you may end up losing a portion of your compensation in direct correlation with the percentage of responsibility assigned to you.

Say, for instance, that you appeared at the business at the time contractors were power washing the roof. The business owner had forgotten about the appointment and sent a worker to put up the sign, but the worker had not yet done so. When you enter the premises, you notice the power washing took place and see the mud, but proceed to cross the muddy walkway anyway.

The business owner and his or her insurance company may make the following arguments in his or her defense:

  • It was obvious that there was mud on the walkway, so you should not have attempted to walk across it.
  • You were on your phone at the time and did not pay sufficient attention to your surroundings before crossing the space.
  • Even though the business owner had not yet put up signs, the power washing company had put up caution cones.
  • You were wearing footwear without adequate traction, which may have caused you to slip and fall, even without the water and mud from power washing.

After reviewing both sides of the story, the court determines that you are 40% responsible for your injuries. It then awards you $10,000 for your injuries. You would receive $6,000 of that money. The business owner or insurance company would have no obligation to pay the remaining $4,000 “discounted” by the 40% of negligence assigned to you.

How do I find a slip and fall injury lawyer to take my case?

There are many experienced slip and fall lawyers NJ. The sheer number of options can overwhelm people looking for help. Our attorneys at Costello Law Firm have years with the civil litigation process and personal injury experience. 

If you want to make sure your claim is properly pursued you should at the very least consult an experienced slip and fall lawyer before the statute of limitation expires on your claim. It is also important an attorney will need time to review your claim so you should contact one as far in advance of the 2 year anniversary of the incident as possible. 

You need a law firm where the assigned attorney takes your case seriously and is willing to go the distance. We are committed to providing exactly this legal experience to our clients. Contact us to schedule an appointment to review your potential slip and fall claim today.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice.

Chris Costello, ESQ.

Chris Costello, ESQ.

Chris handles matters in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania and is an active member of the New Jersey Association for Justice as well as the Burlington County Bar Association. As a Burlington County personal injury lawyer, Mr. Costello has served as chairman of the Burlington County Bar Association Personal Injury Committee and lectured on topics related to auto accidents and insurance law.
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