When someone slips/trips and falls, the immediate response is one of embarrassment. They want to get up and quickly leave the area. However, oftentimes it becomes readily apparent, that the fall was caused as a result of the negligence or carelessness of the business or individual entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring that the place where the accident occurred is reasonably safe.
New Jersey law requires that property owners take reasonable steps to ensure that their premises are reasonably safe for those who enter upon a property especially in a commercial setting. The owner of a store, such as a grocery store, cannot simply allow a hazardous condition such as water or food on the floor to exist for any period of time so as to create a hazard for customers who are there to shop. If it can be proven that you have sustained injuries as a result of a slip and fall or other type of fall down accident due to the negligence of the owner of the property, then New Jersey law enables you to receive money for your damages.
Here are some simple steps to take if you feel that your fall was caused by the negligence of another:
- If you are injured and need immediate medical attention, call 911. This will ensure that you receive the necessary medical care and will also enable the investigating police officer to document the event in an official report.
- Always report the fall to the manager of the premises where the accident occurred immediately or as soon thereafter as possible so that there is a record of the incident. Be sure to jot down the full name of the person to whom you reported the incident for your records.
- If you are able, take a picture of the condition that caused you to fall. If you are physically unable to take a picture due to your injuries, ask someone else to take a picture. Almost everyone has a cell phone with a camera and a picture showing the condition that caused you to fall is extremely valuable in the event you wish to pursue a legal claim.
- Attempt to identify any eyewitnesses. At times, this is not practical, but nevertheless, a witness who can corroborate what you say in regard to the accident is very valuable if you intend to pursue a legal claim.
- Be sure to advise any health care providers (i.e. the ER triage nurse/doctor and any other subsequent healthcare professionals) that you sustained a fall so that the appropriate history is documented in the medical records.
- Do not give any tape recorded statements or written statements to the insurance company or investigator on behalf of the insurance company. Questioning by the highly trained and sophisticated insurance company adjuster and/or investigator can be misleading and never serves to benefit you, the victim.
- Contact my office as soon as is reasonably practical after the incident so that your legal rights are protected.
I have handled many cases of slip and fall accidents arising from unsafe parking lots, unsafe conditions in grocery stores and other retail establishments as well as other locations. Depending on where you sustained your injury dictates the time parameters in which you must file a claim. By way of example, if you sustained an injury as the result of the negligence of a governmental entity then the New Jersey Torts Claim Act requires that notice of the incident be given within 90 days of the date of the accident. Failure to provide the requisite notice pursuant to the applicable New Jersey statute can serve as a bar to your claim.
Moreover, if the incident occurred in a commercial setting or on private property, it is almost certain that an adjuster and/or an investigator on behalf of the insurance carrier insuring the responsible party will attempt to contact you to begin their investigation. It is essential that you have no communications with any of these insurance company representatives unless you are represented by competent counsel. If you try to undertake this process alone without legal representation, you will invariably end up at a significant disadvantage. In addition, there are many issues that will arise concerning reimbursement for medical bills and lost wages and the potential need for satisfaction of liens arising out of payments made by Medicare, Medicaid and some private health plans. All of these issues have to be addressed by an attorney who has the skill, experience and expertise to properly protect your interests. For over 28 years, I have handled matters on behalf of people who have sustained injuries in slip and fall accidents throughout the State of New Jersey and I am confident that I may help you navigate this highly specialized area of the law.