Taking an example where our office represented a gentleman who was delivering a vehicle to a homeowner. He was going to have his vehicle serviced by a local dealership, and the dealership provided exemplary service. They sent the man out with a loaner car, picked up the car to be serviced, and would do the reverse at the end of the day.
The defendant was the land owner of a private house, who happened to be in the security business. One of the things that he did in his business was to do surveillance cameras. He had surveillance all around his private residence.
It was an extremely icy morning and the attorneys had a video of the client merely walking up his driveway and going down on the ice, and he suffered a horrible ankle fracture merely trying to bring the property owner keys to his loaner vehicle, and exchange them for the keys to his own vehicle which was to be serviced.
That property owner was responsible to the client for failing to basically throw down salt in order to melt ice away and make his driveway safe. It was remarkable that they had the video, but in today’s modern age of surveillance it’s happening more and more as there’s a camera everywhere.
Public sidewalk is the best example. It’s pretty rare that a residential homeowner is responsible for that public sidewalk. They’re not even responsible, for example, when a tree that’s planted along the roadway raises the sidewalk and causes you to trip and fall. They’re not responsible for that either.
Our office has been successful in some cases where the land owner tried to make repairs and did so in a negligent fashion. However, in general, the property owner is not responsible for that sidewalk.
Again, it’s fact-based and it’s always worthwhile calling a personal injury lawyer. Someone who’s done exclusively, and if not exclusively, then a lot of personal injury cases over the years.
Once again they are always fact sensitive, whether it’s a fall within the store or a fall going in or going out of the store.
One of the worst cases our office had was a woman walking out of the store who was required to go down a short ramp to get down to the parking lot. The ramp had too much of an incline and caused her to fall. But inside the store it’s most commonly a spill. However, you see virtually all kinds of falls.
In another case, a young woman was in an art supply store with her children and a whole stack of photo and artwork frames fell over her. In another case, a man had ceiling fans fall from the ceiling in a Sears store. Every imaginable circumstance that can happen within a store does happen, but more often than not, it’s a slip in a supermarket. It’s a slip and fall. In other stores it’s a trip and fall.
We also had cases involving many smaller stores; mostly converted homes and things in cute little towns where there was a step up that the patron was supposed to observe and they didn’t and they went down.
There’s a tremendous variety of how the accidents occur, and if you’re in a commercial setting you owe the highest duty to make it safe. But at the same time you’re responsible for yourself and if you were distracted or something else that you’re responsible for caused your fall, you will be reminded of that by the insurance company or their attorney.
Yet there’s a whole variety of injuries that occur in commercial settings.
They put them there for a purpose. If it’s plainly visible and you trip and fall as you’re walking into the store and never see it, you’d probably be a little too responsible for your own injury.
On the other hand, if there’s insufficient lighting in the parking lot and it’s dark and especially if the parking divider has moved when it should have been fixed in place and you didn’t see it, you went down, then of course they’d be responsible.
Again, it largely depends on how did the accident occur, what circumstances partially caused the accident? Are they responsible for it every time? No. Because they have a purpose of being there, and if there was no reason for you not to see them and you still tripped over them, you’d be more responsible than they are.
Talking about the magic ones that appear out of nowhere right in front of you, that weren’t there two seconds ago, if it’s daylight and you had no reason to not see them and they magically appeared, the owner of that parking lot is not responsible to you, at least not in New Jersey.
In other states comparative negligence rules aren’t defined as they are in New Jersey.
In New York, for example, you could be 90% responsible for your own accident and still get 10% of your damages. They’re 10% responsible. You’ve got to understand, if you were hurt badly, that 10% might still be worth a lot of money. New York is quite different. That’s one of the reasons why the values in New York are greater, because the risk of loss is much lower.
If you need information on How To Deal With Slip & Fall Accidents In Different Scenarios, read on or call the law office of David Maran for a free initial consultation at (973) 622-5303 and get the information and legal answers you’re seeking.