Being in the Northeast, New Jersey and New York experiences its fair share of winter storms and freezing temperature increasing the risk of accidental injuries. However, most of these injuries are avoidable if those responsible for clearing, shoveling and salting ice and snow did their job timely and properly.
When people suffer an injury caused by a slip and fall, often they are unaware of their legal rights. But make no mistake about it, if your fall was caused by the negligence of another person or business, you have the following rights.
- You are entitled to be paid for your medical bills
- You are entitled to be paid for your past and future lost wages
- You are entitled to be paid for your pain and suffering
- You are entitled to be paid for you future impairment
But first you need to prove and win your case. How is that done?
- You should contact an experienced injury lawyer ASAP
- Preserve your evidence
- Take photographs of the scene and injury if possible
- Report your injury to the owner
- Save the footwear you wore during the fall
- Collect the names and addresses of any witnesses
- Identify any cameras in the fall zone
But what must a lawyer prove?
According to the legal dictionary, Negligence =.n. “failure to exercise the care toward others which a reasonable or prudent person would do in the circumstances, or taking action which such a reasonable person would not.”
So what, in simple English, must your lawyer prove…. four things….
#1 A duty by someone else to keep their property safe
#2 A breach of that duty (they did not do what they were supposed to do)
#3 “Proximate Causation.” the lack of care caused the fall and injuries
#4 Damages. You suffered harms and losses, including pain and suffering
What causes a person to slip and fall?
Most people think that the person who fell caused the accident. Qualified lawyers who have handled hundreds of slip and fall accidents know better. It’s usually about ten causes.
The 10 Common Causes of Slip & Fall Accidents
- Frozen water (ice or snow) is a lubricant that reduces or eliminates the normal friction of a walking surface. The lubrication causes the surface to become slippery and dangerous.
- Underlying defects concealed by snow so that cracked or elevated sidewalk slabs are not visible. Also surface depressions such as potholes become filled with water that freezes and become like an ice skating rink.
- Man-made hazards such as downspouts from roof gutters that pour onto sidewalks.
- Poor maintenance of danger zones, in other words failure to apply salt, calcium chloride, or other deicing agents.
- Inadequate lighting so that a danger is concealed.
- Inadequate warnings of water, ice or snow creating a hazard.
- Construction defects, such as stairways with steps sloping down. Water or ice lubricating a surface causes dangerous forward momentum.
- Inadequate handrails, or handrails at an improper height.
- Lack of interior maintenance protocols, such as mats or wet surface warning cones.
- Building code violations, such as excess sloping walkways, improper drainage.
How Does a Qualified Lawyer Prove a Violation of Industry Standards or Code Violations?
That is the “magic source” in winning a slip and fall case, and the proof comes for a recognized safety expert who is hired early on by the law firm to inspect the area, and to find out the exact cause, or as we lawyers put it, the negligence that caused you to suffer a fall that changed your life. If your case does not settle and is required to go to trial, rest assured that it is the qualified expert hired by your lawyer that will give expert testimony to the jury to help win your case and hold the negligent property owner responsible.
Injury lawyers that represent people injured because of snow and ice typically see the following patterns of case types.
Type of People Injured by Snow and Ice
- RENTERS: People who rent property falling because the landlord failed to clean or continue to salt the premises.
- CUSTOMERS: People who shop in malls, restaurants, businesses who fall outside or within the store or mall, or even within the adjacent parking lot.
- DRIVERS OR PEDESTRIANS: People who are injured when a driver loses control of their vehicle and injures another. PEDESTRIANS walking on untreated sidewalks.
- PEDESTRIANS ON SIDEWALKS: People injured while walking on sidewalks in front of commercial or business properties. The law is very complicated when someone is injured in front of or while in a private residence.
- CONDO or CO-OP Members: People who are injured within their own condo or co-op, as well as their visitors may have a case against the condo association or snow removal contractors.
- POLICE AND EMS WORKERS: Their on the job injuries are covered by worker’s compensation laws, however if they fall while responding they may have a valuable direct case against the negligent property owner.
- WORKERS: People who are injured on the job have the absolute right to collect money for lost wages, medical bills and permanent injuries through the workers compensation insurance provided by their employer by law.