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Proving a property owner's liability for your fall injuries

Whether you went to the mall, the grocery store or some other establishment to run your errands, you expected that the property owner made sure that you would be reasonably safe. That is, until you slipped and fell.

The injuries you suffered required you to go to the hospital, and you may face a significant recovery period. During this time, you will more than likely incur medical expenses, lose income and incur other damages because of your fall. You believe that the property owner is somehow responsible for your predicament, but now you need to prove it.

Was the area reasonably safe and was the accident preventable?

Property owners have an obligation to keep the premises reasonably safe. This means taking reasonable steps to make sure that no hazards or dangerous conditions exist. If the owner, a manager or employee could have done something to remove a danger or hazard, but failed to do so, your accident and subsequent injuries may have been prevented.

The primary question a New Jersey civil court may ask is whether a reasonable person would or should have known about the danger or hazard. If you can present evidence to the court that proves the answer to that question is "yes," then you may receive compensation for your injuries.

Something else to keep in mind is the fact that the court will also expect your actions to be reasonable as well. For example, if you saw a puddle of water on the floor, could have avoided it, but walked into it anyway, you may be found partly responsible for your injuries if you fell because of your actions. If you ignored a warning sign or failed to pay attention to it, the court may say that you contributed to your accident.

Factors affecting the property owner's liability

When assessing whether the property owner bears liability for your injuries, the court will want to know the following regarding the property owner, a manager or an employee:

  • Whether one of them was aware of the hazard, but failed to make repairs or take some other action to reduce or remove it
  • Whether one of them should have known of the hazard since a reasonable person would have
  • Whether one of them caused the hazard in the first place

If any of these conditions occurred, it could mean the property owner bears liability for your injuries. Other factors may also play a role in whether your pursuit of compensation will be successful. In order to gather the appropriate evidence and present it to the court properly, you may need to make use of legal resources in your area.

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