Slip and fall accidents are one of the most common types of personal injury cases. As the name suggests, a ‘slip and fall’ occurs when an individual trips and falls down. If you’re injured in a slip and fall and it happened on someone else’s property, you may be able to file an insurance claim or a lawsuit against the property’s owner if it’s clear the accident was a result of their negligence.
Whether you decide to pursue a lawsuit or an insurance claim, there are specific laws and regulations in the state of New Jersey that can affect the outcome of your case. Educating yourself on the state rules surrounding slip and fall lawsuits will ensure you have the best shot at receiving compensation for the costs associated with your injuries. If you were injured in a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property, a knowledgeable New Jersey premises liability attorney can help you understand the particular laws relevant to your case, so you can jump through the many legal hoops with ease.
Statute of Limitations for Slip and Fall Claims
The statute of limitations is one of the most important things to keep in mind after a slip and fall accident, because it makes your ability to receive compensation time-sensitive. As in most states, New Jersey places a statute of limitations on slip and fall lawsuits, meaning there is a certain time limit placed on your right to have your case heard in court. If you wait to file a lawsuit after this deadline has passed, the property owner’s first line of defense will most likely point to the statute of limitations law and the judge will be apt to dismiss your case.
According to New Jersey Statutes section 2A:14-2, “Every action at law for an injury to the person caused by the wrongful act, neglect or default of any person within this State shall be commenced within two years next after the cause of any such action shall have accrued.” In other words, if you have suffered a slip and fall injury and wish to file a lawsuit against the property owner, you have two years after the accident occurred to do so. Any later and you will almost certainly forego your chance to take your case to court.
To clarify, the statute of limitations refers to your right to have your case heard in front of a civil court. Keep in mind that most personal injury cases, like a slip and fall, are able to be settled and never need to go to court. However, it’s in your best interest to file within the two year deadline in the event that your case does not settle easily. Plus, having the option of taking your case to court will give you an advantage in settlement negotiations.
The “Shared Fault” Rule
Comparative negligence, also known as “shared fault,” is the other big piece of the puzzle in premises liability cases such as slip and fall. You can definitely expect comparative negligence to come up in settlement talks or the courtroom, and it can have a huge impact on the results of your case. Basically, if you file a claim asserting that a property owner’s negligence was the cause of your slip and fall injury, they could possibly retaliate by arguing that you share some of the responsibility for your injuries. If the property owner presents a strong argument and is able to prove comparative negligence, any coverage you are entitled to will most likely be drastically less than what it could have been.
For this reason, securing legal representation before settlement negotiations or trial is essential. A New Jersey premises liability attorney, like those at the Law Offices of Peter N. Davis & Associates, will be familiar with this legal concept and can help you combat common arguments that the other side may try to use to establish comparative negligence. Property owners typically attempt to claim the injured party shares fault for any of the following reasons:
- The safety hazard in their building or home was reasonably clear and should have been obvious to you.
- The dangerous area was sectioned off with hazard tape or cones.
- You were texting, talking on the phone, or generally not giving enough attention to where you were walking.
- Your decisions were inappropriate giving the clear unsafe circumstances and led to your fall, such as wearing inadequate shoes.
So what happens if you do share part of the blame for the accident? Does this mean you don’t deserve any compensation? Absolutely not. In the state of New Jersey, a percentage is usually assigned to each party’s liability in civil court cases. As long as your portion of responsibility does not exceed 50 percent, you will be entitled to receive the amount equal to the other party’s percentage. For example, if you are found at fault for 15 percent of the accident, then the other party owes 85 percent of any compensation amount you may be entitled to receive.
Similar to the statute of limitations rule, comparative negligence is most relevant if your slip and fall case goes to court. However, it’s essential to understand, because your ‘percentage of fault’ will still influence settlement negotiations. The property owner’s insurance carrier will almost always consider your part in the accident and offer lower settlement amounts if they believe you share fault.
Speak with a Premises Liability Attorney to Understand The Laws That Affect Your Case
At the Law Offices of Peter N. Davis & Associates, we have years of experience in handling slip and fall cases and are extremely knowledgeable about the specific laws, such as comparative negligence and the statute of limitations, in our state of New Jersey. This high level of experience and knowledge adds up to stronger cases for our clients and more compensation to help them recover from their injuries. Don’t let a negligent property owner take advantage of you after an accident that was their fault in the first place. Call us today at 973-279-7246 so we can review your case and start building a case that will stand up in settlement negotiations or the courtroom.