Are you struggling to cope with the consequences of a slip-and-fall incident in your apartment building, a retail store or another public area in New Jersey? You may be happy to learn that you might have grounds to pursue financial relief to help you settle medical bills and make up for lost income. However, you will have to establish negligence on the part of the property owner — a process that might be challenging.

Negligence is the failure to protect others from harm, but only if there was a duty to provide protection. The law says that a person is negligent if he or she fails to act as reasonable people would act in similar circumstances — thereby causing harm to others.

Examples of negligence

Any area that allows access to the public must be free of hazards, including stores, parks, sidewalks, parking lots and apartment buildings. You might recognize some of the following examples of negligence by property owners that could lead to premises liability lawsuits:

  • Negligent building maintenance: If the building in which you rent an apartment has walls or ceilings that seem on the verge of collapse, or if you feel like you risk your life every time you get into the elevator, your landlord may be neglecting the building’s maintenance.
  • Negligent security: Failing to provide security guards when necessary can leave tenants vulnerable, and the same applies to insufficient lighting in parking lots or garages.
  • Negligent property maintenance: Uncleared snow and ice, wet spots due to leaks, pot holes in the parking lot and on the sidewalk — these are all hazards that could cause you severe harm.
  • Uncontrolled pets: Even though you might love pets, a neighbor’s dog might pose a serious threat. A landlord should have a strict policy to control pet ownership in the building.

Proving negligence in a civil court

This is where things become significantly more complicated. The first aspect to prove is that the defendant had a clear duty to act, and then you must show that he or she failed in that duty. A premises liability lawsuit serves to recover financial and other damages, and for that reason, the third thing to prove is that the person’s failure to act was the direct cause of the harm that brought about your losses. Lastly, you will also have to prove that he or she actually caused harm.

Only if, and when, you can prove all four of these aspects — in the correct order — will you establish negligence. If your landlord’s failure in the duty to act was not the cause of your injury, your claim will not be valid.

You are not alone

The prospect of challenging your landlord — or another business owner — in a New Jersey court might be daunting. However, you may find comfort in learning that an experienced premises liability attorney can provide support and guidance every step of the way. A lawyer can investigate the incident, help establish negligence and document your claims before advocating for you in court in pursuit of the recovery of financial and emotional damages.