Slipping, or tripping over something, is something most of us have probably done at one point or another. These types of incidents are extremely common. If you are lucky, all that you will injure as a result is your pride. Unfortunately, many people are not so lucky. Injuries resulting from slip and fall incidents can range from the relatively minor to severe and can come with life-changing consequences.
If you or someone you love was injured as the result of a fall sustained after slipping or tripping in Essex County, New Jersey, you may be entitled to compensation. However, you will need to be able to show that another person or company was responsible for your injuries.
Legal Grounds for Slip and Fall Lawsuits
Proving liability to recover in an Essex County personal injury matter, including slip and fall cases, is not always easy.
If your injury occurred on someone else’s property (including at a business), your claim will hinge on what is known as “premises liability” law. Essentially, premises liability means that business owners, landlords and individual property owners have a duty to keep their property safe and secure. If someone who is lawfully on the premises becomes injured after slipping (or tripping) and falling, the property owner may be responsible.
The elements you will need to prove in order to recover damages include the following:
1. Duty of care. First, you need to establish that the property owner owed you a duty of care. If you were legally on someone else’s property when you slipped and fell, this prong is generally easy to prove.
2. Breach of duty. When the duty of care has been established, you need to show that the property owner breached that duty. This step may be harder to establish. If you were injured because the property owner knew of dangerous conditions but didn’t take action to mitigate the risk or to warn you of the danger, then you may be able to show that the property owner breached their duty of care. Similarly, if the property owner wasn’t adequately maintaining their property which led to the dangerous situation, a breach of duty may be established.
3. Proximate cause. The breach of duty needs to have been a proximate cause of your injuries. Even if the property owner had a duty and breached that duty, you will not be able to recover if their breach was not the proximate cause of your resulting injuries. For example, if you assumed a known risk and were subsequently injured, the property owner may not be liable.
4. Damages. Finally, you have to have sustained damages as the result of your injuries. Proving this element of your case is usually done by obtaining and reviewing medical records, including X-rays, tests, treatment reports, expert witness testimony and other records that demonstrate that you suffered a loss as a result of slipping and falling.
In New Jersey courts, you may be found to be partially negligent for your own injuries. In such cases, a jury may reduce the total amount awarded to you by the percentage attributed to your own fault. In the event a court finds that you are more than 50 percent responsible for your injuries, you will not be entitled to compensation.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
Becoming injured after a slip and fall accident can be a stressful and traumatic time in your life. In addition to handling medical appointments and expenses, you may also find yourself unable to work.
You may know that you have rights to recover compensation under New Jersey law; however, the thought of trying to negotiate a settlement with the other party (or their insurance company) is the last thing on your mind.
An Essex County personal injury lawyer can help by handling all of the communications and negotiations for you. Initial offers are often insufficient to cover your expenses. Your attorney knows this and shouldn’t be afraid to go head-to-head with the responsible party to advocate for what is reasonable and fair. Your attorney will also be invaluable in helping you obtain the necessary medical records and other documentation to substantiate your claim for compensation.
Before you sign any paperwork to accept a settlement offer, talk to a personal injury attorney who has experience handling cases for Essex County residents who were injured as the result of a fall.
Choosing an Essex County Personal Injury Attorney
Don’t get overwhelmed trying to find a personal injury attorney to help you with your slip and fall case in Essex County.
First, look for an attorney or firm that has experience handling cases similar to yours. When you interview attorneys, ask them about how they would approach representing you and what types of outcomes they have gotten for other clients in similar circumstances.
You should also choose an attorney who is familiar with the Essex County court system, as this can help ensure you get the level of representation you need to protect your rights and interests.
Finally, be sure to choose an attorney you are comfortable with. Your personal injury lawyer should be knowledgeable and experienced, but he or she should also be personable, answer questions to your satisfaction and let you know what you can expect from each step in your legal case.