Imagine walking into the local supermarket to pick up a few items. As you head toward the dairy aisle, you suddenly find yourself on the ground. Instead of standing up, brushing yourself off, and quickly moving away in embarrassment, look around and assess the situation. Your fall may not have occurred due to clumsiness. It may have been caused by a wet floor, a loose tile or a badly placed product display.
If you have fallen on someone else’s property, you may have a claim for damages. When you step onto someone else’s property, you have a reasonable expectation of not getting hurt. The owner or resident has a duty to maintain a reasonably safe environment. This is known as premises liability.
Contact a local New Jersey attorney if you think you may have claim against a property owner. Read further to understand more about who is liable in a premises liability case.
Your legal status
Sometimes the outcome of a premises liability case hinges on the legal status of the visitor. For example, were you an invitee, a social guest, a licensee or a trespasser?
An invitee is a person that the owner has invited onto the property. In the above example, the store has invited you (the customer) onto the property to shop. A licensee enters a property for a personal purpose with the consent of the owner. A social guest is a person that is a welcome visitor. A trespasser enters property without any right to do so. In the case of licensees and trespassers, there is no implied promise that the owner has taken steps to secure the safety of the property.
A common defense used by property owners in premises liability cases is that the injury was partly your fault. In general, you have a duty to show reasonable care for your own safety. For example, if you chose to try to climb to the top of a store display, which resulted in your injury, the court will most likely take the position that you played a large role in your own accident.
If the court decides that you contributed to your accident, the court may reduce your award by the percentage assigned to your culpability. If the court decides to award $10,000 in damages, but assigns you 25 percent of the blame, then you will only receive $7,500.
If a property owner’s negligence contributed to your injury, you may be entitled to receive damages. As a victim of a slip-and-fall accident, it is important to understand your rights. Contact a local New Jersey personal injury attorney for advice on how to handle your claim.