Frequently Asked Questions About Slip and Fall Cases in New Jersey
If you experienced injuries after slipping and falling on some type of premises, there are a multitude of questions you may face about who is responsible, whether you have legal justification to sue, what happens in the process of filing a lawsuit, and what you may be entitled to in the form of compensation. It would help if you had someone who could fight for your right to just compensation from a negligent party, providing the experience you need for your slip and fall case. At Cohen & Riechelson, our talented slip and fall accident lawyers can help you with the complex process of successfully handling your claim for damages. You deserve representation from a firm you can place your trust in.
What if the Accident Could have Been Prevented?
These accidents could have been frequently prevented but for a negligent property owner, manager, or municipality. New Jersey has a theory of law known as premises liability. The property owner is responsible for a reasonable level of safety and care regarding the individuals who use that property. Common causes include wet floors, poorly lit areas, snow and ice in parking lots or on sidewalks, broken or uneven stairs, malfunctioning escalators or elevators, loose cables, uneven carpeting or loose rugs, missing or broken railings, damaged sidewalks, construction site accidents, and potholes in parking garages or parking lots. In many of these cases, someone else had a duty to exercise reasonable care in preventing or alleviating the dangerous condition that led to the slip and fall incident. The key is determining whether the accident could have been prevented, who is liable, and if there is just cause to sue for compensation if you were injured.
How Bad do my Injuries Have to Be?
There is no simple one-size-fits-all answer to this question. It really depends on the specific slip and fall case and the extent of the victim’s injuries. The least severe injuries are abrasions and lacerations. Deep lacerations may require sutures, and occasionally the site can become infected, requiring further medical intervention. Frequently, slips and falls result in a joint injury or one to an extremity. Wrists, hips, ankles, elbows, and shoulders can be strained, broken, dislocated, or have severe soft tissue damage, ranging from minor strains to ruptures and tears.
Neck and back injuries can cause broken vertebrae, muscle strains, herniated discs, and even paralysis. Additionally, neck and back injuries can bring about neurologic and sensory perception difficulties causing numbness or tingling of the extremities. Traumatic Brain Injury, known as TBI, occurs when a person slips and hits their head on the ground or another surface when they fall. Minor consequences include slight concussions, bruises, and bumps, while severe injuries such as hematomas, skull fractures, and hemorrhaging can be life-threatening or cause brain damage resulting in temporary or permanent disability.
What Should I Do After The Accident?
You should always call the police first. They can send an ambulance to help you if you are injured and fill out an incident report which will be helpful for your case. If you are well enough, take pictures of where the accident occurred. Ask for the contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident, and always keep records of your medical treatment and physical therapy. Lastly, contact a slip and fall lawyer to start working on your case right away.
Should I Get Legal Help With My Slip and Fall Claim?
Absolutely. To successfully handle a slip and fall claim, conclusions must be drawn about the nature of the accident and who is at fault. Proving that the negligent person or entity is at fault is no small feat. They and their insurance company will do everything possible to reject your claim or lessen the consequences of your injuries. A lawyer can not only present your case but make sure it is presented in a particular way to allow you to receive maximum compensation.
For example, a lawyer can do several things while recovering from your injury, such as interviewing witnesses, talking to specialists, and speaking with your medical team. They can analyze your case and dangerous conditions that led to the incident. Sometimes lawyers also work with reconstructionist experts who can recreate a scene in an area where a slip and fall has occurred, or specialists in architecture and building codes, biomechanics, or snow and ice management. All of this information and evidence can be used to establish your entitled to damages.
Throughout the process, your lawyer will discuss your claim with the insurance company and opposing attorneys, attempt to negotiate the settlement you are entitled to, file your claim with the court, and represent you in all legal proceedings from negotiations to trial.
What Kind of Damages Can I Recover From a Slip and Fall Injury?
There are economic and non-economic damages for slip and fall victims. Economic damages have a precise dollar amount in costs, while non-economic damages do not. Medical bills, rehabilitation, lost wages, home modifications if you have a permanent disability, or loss of future earnings are economic damages. Non-economic damages include scarring or disfigurement, emotional distress, loss of consortium, quality of life, and physical pain and suffering.
How Long Do Slip and Fall Settlements Take?
Your case’s length depends on several factors. There are several stages to complete. First, you must file a complaint in court that names both parties, describe how the accident happened, who is responsible, and the damages being sought. The defendant has three weeks to file a response.
The next phase is called discovery, and it can take months to years depending on the complexity of the case. Parties request information, reports, photos, videos, and interrogatories which are questions with answers written while under oath.
At this point, the case can take one of three directions: mediation, trial, or settlement. Mediation is sometimes used when the dispute isn’t complicated, and the parties somewhat agree. It can be made mandatory by a judge looking to clear up a packed calendar. A trial will be held if the mediation is unsuccessful or the parties are nowhere near a resolution. Trials typically last three to five days, and your court date may be as soon as eight weeks or as long as eight months, depending on the court availability. The other party’s insurance company may offer a settlement at any point in the process. Your lawyer can negotiate with them, but insurance companies aren’t famous for their generosity when paying claims. The less they agree to pay you, the more they keep for themselves.
What Kind of Evidence Do You Need in a Slip and Fall Case?
Obviously, the first and most valuable evidence is medical evidence. Scans, test results, doctor’s reports (epicrisis), physical rehabilitation plan explaining your progress, and other pertinent medical information. The following kind of evidence must show the hazard itself: a pothole, an irregularity in the sidewalk, a broken handrail, an icy walkway. Photos, video, or CCTV can be used to show the problem and the lack of care or warning signs shown by the property owner. Witnesses can be very helpful when arguing this part of your case.
What is the Statute of Limitations for a Slip and Fall Case?
Regular slip and fall cases have a limit of two years to be filed from the date of the accident. Two years may seem like plenty of time, but starting when the evidence and witness’s memories are still fresh is essential. If you were injured on government property, you have only 90 days from the date of the accident, and if you were on property owned or operated by the New Jersey Port Authority, you have one year.
Why Do You Need a Lawyer After a Slip and Fall Accident?
One of the advantages of having immediate, sound legal advice is knowing that your attorney is doing everything possible to take care of your future. Another advantage is that you don’t pay anything until you receive your settlement. Your only requirement is to let us do the work for you. If you or someone you know was injured in a slip and fall accident and wants financial compensation, call the Law Offices of Cohen & Riechelson at (609) 528-2596 or contact us online for your free and confidential consultation.