Slip and Fall accidents are one of the most common types of premises liability claims. Causes of these accidents can include icy sidewalks, foreign or man-made objects, potholes in parking lots, slippery floors, uneven sidewalks and other hazards.
In most slip and fall cases, the plaintiff must prove the defendant’s negligent failure to properly maintain the property. Thus, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the premises owner had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition in order to sustain the claim. In other words, the plaintiff must prove that the property owner knew or should have known about the dangerous condition upon reasonable inspection of the premises, but failed to discover and remediate the condition in due course, causing the injury.
There are some cases, however, where the plaintiff does not have the burden of proving the property owner's actual or constructive notice of a dangerous condition. In these cases, the "mode of operation" doctrine applies. The mode of operation doctrine creates a rebuttable presumption of negligence against a commercial property owner when the business conducted upon the property is dangerous by its very nature.
Examples of cases where the mode of operation doctrine may apply are those involving slip and falls in grocery stores and supermarkets (i.e. slip and fall on fallen food in the produce section of the store). Thus, the mode of operation doctrine primarily applies in cases where some form of self-service business is conducted upon the subject premises.
Whether the mode of operation applies in a given case will be a hotly contested issue. If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, you should contact an experienced NJ personal injury lawyer to learn your rights, and whether you are entitled to compensation for your damages.