NJ Sidewalk Fall Injury? Public vs. Private Property and How to Determine Who Pays Sidewalk Accident Damages

Determining Fault in NJ Sidewalk Accidents

You’re strolling along a sidewalk in New Jersey, and wham! You’ve fallen. It might have been a crack that tripped you or a piece of sidewalk lifted by tree roots. That doesn’t matter so much as the fact that you’ve sustained a major injury. Who is responsible? Who will pay your medical bills?

We answer some of these questions in this article, but it is highly advisable to consult with a seasoned slip-and-fall lawyer in New Jersey to ensure that your case is thoroughly investigated and properly filed against those responsible.

What Makes People Trip and Fall on Sidewalks?

Sidewalk accidents happen because of a number of hazards:

  • Cracked Pavement: If the sidewalk has cracks or bumps, people might trip.
  • Things in the Way: Trash, branches, or objects left on the sidewalk can cause people to trip or fall.
  • Not Taken Care of: If sidewalks aren’t fixed regularly, they can become dangerous.
  • Bad Weather: Snow, ice, or rain can make sidewalks slippery and cause people to slip.
  • Dim Light: If there aren’t enough lights at night, it’s hard to see obstacles on the sidewalk.
  • Construction Areas: Sidewalks being built or repaired might have holes or obstacles.
  • Too Many People: Crowded sidewalks can lead to collisions or trips.
  • Not Paying Attention: Using phones while walking can make people unaware of their surroundings.
  • Wrong Shoes: Wearing shoes that aren’t good for walking can cause slipping or tripping.
  • Health Issues: Some people with medical problems might be more likely to have accidents on sidewalks.

Being mindful of these factors may very well help you avoid getting injured in a sidewalk accident.

Avoiding NJ Sidewalk Accidents: Risks for All Ages

Older people are more likely to have sidewalk accidents. As they get older, things like balance, vision, and mobility can change, making them more prone to tripping or falling. Health issues and medications can also play a role, affecting their ability to walk safely. Environmental factors, like poor lighting or uneven paths, can make things even riskier. In addition, there are other groups who tend to experience more accidents on sidewalks:

Kids might not pay attention and could run into things. People with disabilities might find it harder to navigate sidewalks with obstacles. People in busy cities are susceptible because more people and traffic mean more chances for accidents. People who live in areas with bad sidewalks are more likely to experience an accident. Also, people in places with lots of cars are more likely to be involved in an accident because busy streets make accidents with pedestrians more common. And finally, people who do not pay attention and use phones while walking tend to have more accidents.

The Physical Toll of Sidewalk Accidents in New Jersey

The most common injuries from sidewalk accidents are twisted ankles or pulled muscles from tripping or falling on an uneven sidewalk. People often also experience broken bones: wrists, hips, or other bones, especially for older people. Tripping on debris can cause cuts, scratches, bruises, and bumps.

Falls might cause head injuries, from mild concussions to serious ones. Falling awkwardly can also hurt your back or spine. People end up with soft tissue damage when a fall hurts muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Falling on your face can cause cuts, bruises, broken bones, or broken teeth. Besides physical injuries, accidents can also cause anxiety or stress, especially if they’re serious.

How Weather Affects Sidewalk Safety

Weather and time of day change conditions on sidewalks all day long. Rain makes sidewalks slippery and hides dangers like potholes or debris. Ice and snow on sidewalks are slippery and can cause falls. Likewise, fog makes it hard to see, increasing the risk of accidents. Winds can blow debris onto sidewalks, creating hazards. And last but not least, extreme temperatures have an affect too. Hot weather can make sidewalks sticky or uneven, while cold weather can make them icy and slippery.

Nighttime is also a big factor: It’s harder to see hazards in the dark, especially in poorly lit areas. Dusk and dawn also contribute: During these times, the light is changing, which can make it tough to see obstacles.

Determining Who is at Fault for a Sidewalk Accident

If the Accident Happens On Public Land

On public land, local governments usually have a responsibility to keep public sidewalks safe. If someone gets hurt because of a dangerous sidewalk, like one with a hole or crack, the government might be responsible for the injuries. Local governments often have something called a “Notice Requirement.” They want people to let them know about the accident within a certain time. This gives them a chance to check the sidewalk and fix any problems. Bear in mind that courts consider the rule of “Comparative Negligence.” If the person who got hurt was also careless, they might not get full compensation. The amount they get might depend on how much they were at fault.

Sometimes, the government can’t be sued for accidents on sidewalks because of special rules like immunity. But there are exceptions, including if they were really careless. If someone else, like a construction company, caused the problem on the sidewalk, they might be responsible for the accident instead of the government. It can be tricky to figure out who’s responsible for accidents on public sidewalks, so it’s a good idea to talk to a lawyer who knows about premises liability cases.

If the Accident Happens On Private Property

Prove Your Claim for Sidewalk Injuries with Top Legal Counsel in New Jersey

When it comes to sidewalk accidents on private property, liability depends on various factors, such as the property owner’s duty of care and the circumstances of the accident.

Usually, a commercial property owner is responsible for making sure their sidewalks are safe, and they’re potentially responsible for accidents that happen on the sidewalks on their property. This is called “Premises Liability.” When it comes to business owners and commercial establishments, the owner generally has to fix any hazards or risks that could cause someone to get hurt. If they don’t take care of their sidewalks and someone gets hurt because of it, they could be considered negligent. For example, if they don’t fix a crack and someone trips and falls, they might be found at fault.

The person who fell has to prove that the property owner knew about the problem or should have known about it. This could be because someone told them about it or because they should have seen it themselves. The awareness or reasonable expectation of awareness is particularly important when a sidewalk accident happens on private property. In these cases, there are limitations on the expectations and responsibilities of private property owners. Bear in mind that if the person who got hurt also did something careless that contributed to the accident, they might not obtain full compensation. Their compensation might be reduced based on how much they were at fault.

Property owners often have insurance that covers accidents on their property, including sidewalk accidents. Injured people can sometimes claim compensation from this insurance. Also, if there are agreements about who’s responsible for sidewalk maintenance, like with tenants or other parties, those agreements might affect who’s liable if an accident happens. Knowing these things can help if someone gets hurt on your property or if you get hurt on someone else’s property. It’s a good idea to talk to a lawyer if this happens in order to fully understand your rights.

What Needs to Be Proven to Win a Sidewalk Accident Case?

To establish responsibility in a sidewalk accident, several elements typically need to be proven:

  • Duty of care: The responsible party must have had a duty to keep the sidewalk safe for people to use.
  • Breach of duty: It must be shown that they didn’t do what they were supposed to, like fixing hazards or warning about dangers.
  • Causation: The hazardous condition directly caused the accident and resulting injuries.
  • Foreseeability: The responsible party should have known about the risk posed by the condition.
  • Damages: The injured person must have suffered actual harm, like physical injuries or medical expenses, because of the accident.

By proving these things, the injured person can hold the responsible party accountable and seek compensation for their injuries. In order to successfully prove a sidewalk accident case, it is important to gather evidence, like photos and witness statements, and have skilled legal advocacy throughout the process.

Understanding Compensation After a NJ Sidewalk Accident

In New Jersey, if you’re hurt in a sidewalk accident, there are several types of compensation. You could get money to cover the cost of your medical treatment, like hospital stays, surgeries, or therapy. If you can’t work because of your injuries, you might get money to make up for the wages you’ve lost.

You could also receive compensation for the physical pain and emotional distress caused by the accident. If you’re left with permanent disabilities or scars, you might get extra compensation. If your injuries affect your relationships with family members, you might receive compensation for the loss of support or companionship.

If your belongings are damaged in the accident, you could get money to fix or replace them. In extreme cases where the responsible party was really careless or did something wrong on purpose, you might get extra money to punish them and prevent similar accidents in the future.

The amount and types of compensation you can obtain depend on how serious your injuries are and how the accident happened. Talking to the attorneys at Cohen & Riechelson, all of whom are well-versed in the nuances of premises liability cases involving sidewalk accidents in New Jersey, can help you understand what you’re entitled to.

Speak with the Sidewalk Accident Lawyers at Cohen & Riechelson if You Were Hurt in New Jersey

Cohen & Riechelson can investigate what happened to you, gathering evidence like photos and witness statements to support your case, and delving into key concerns like who owns the property and who should have fixed the sidewalk. We take the burden of assembling your sidewalk accident claim and effectively proving it off your shoulders, in order to secure complete compensation for your sidewalk injuries in Hamilton, Princeton, Trenton, Burlington, Woodbridge, Mount Holly, Lambertville, Edison, Ewing, or another community in New Jersey. Call our personal injury lawyers for a free consultation regarding your sidewalk accident injuries at (609) 528-5926. We’ll review your case, outline what your best next steps are, and explain how we can help you.