With the bad snow and ice storms prevalent in New Jersey, people commonly suffer severe injuries in slips, trips, falls, and other accidents. This is especially true when property owners fail to shovel snow and clear their walkways and parking lots.
When an accident victim sustains injuries on another person’s property, they might file a claim with the property owner’s insurance company or file a lawsuit directly against the property owner for various damages.
If you or someone you care about sustained injuries on another person’s property due to snow and ice on the property, you may have legal options to consider. Reach out to a New Jersey premises liability lawyer.
What Is a Premises Owner’s Legal Duty of Care to a Visitor?
The legal duty of care that a property owner owes to a property visitor depends upon that visitor’s status on the property at a given time.
Property visitors who enter someone else’s property to benefit the owner are business invitees. Examples of business invitees are diners at a restaurant or customers who enter a shopping center or store. A property owner owes a business invitee the highest available duty of care. Specifically, premises owners must correct, or at the very least warn about, dangerous hazards on their property at a given time—and about which they know.
Moreover, property owners have to routinely inspect their premises for unknown dangers and hazards that might exist. If they come across a dangerous condition during their inspection, they must promptly warn about or correct it for the benefit of property visitors.
When it comes to snow and ice, business owners may need to take measures to prevent snow and ice accumulation. They may also need to clear the danger quickly and put precautions in place ahead of the storm.
Unlike business invitees, a licensee—or social guest—is someone who enters another person’s property for their benefit. A common example of a licensee is a person who visits someone as a private guest at their residence. A property owner’s duty of care to a licensee is similar to the duty owed to a business invitee. Specifically, a premises owner must swiftly warn about or correct a known dangerous condition on their premises.
Unlike a business or commercial property owner, homeowners do not have to take such extreme measures to prevent snow and ice accumulation. However, if they failed to remove dangerous ice accumulation on their property in a timely manner, then they might face liability.
Finally, a trespasser is an individual who enters someone else’s property without the owner’s permission. Generally speaking, a property owner does not owe any duty of care to an individual who trespasses on the property. However, the property owner may owe them a legal duty if the trespasser is a “known trespasser,” such as a frequent child visitor.
It is also important to remember that a property visitor’s status may change over time. For example, they may enter the property as a business invitee when the property owner owes them the highest possible duty of care. However, if the visitor illegally remains on the premises after-hours, their status becomes that of a trespasser. In that instance, the property owner may not owe them a duty of care if they suffer an accidental injury at that time.
To recover monetary damages in a premises accident case, the property owner must have violated the legal duty of care they owed the property visitor.
If you sustained injuries because of snow and ice on another person’s property, an experienced New Jersey premises liability attorney can help you file a premises liability claim or lawsuit that seeks monetary recovery for your premises-accident injuries.
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What Are the Most Common Premises Accidents?
While outdoor slip and fall accidents are relatively common on the property, especially in cold winter, other accidents may severely injure accident victims. Slipping on ice in parking lots, falling in wet entryways, and falling down icy stairs are just some of the ways ice and snow can cause serious injury.
Some of the most common premises accidents besides slip and falls and trip-and-falls include:
- Accidents that result from defective equipment on the property, such as playground equipment at a daycare facility or nursery school
- Accidents that result from defective staircases and railings
- Assaults and other incidents that result from negligent security on the premises, including inadequate security cameras or the absence of adequate security personnel on the premises at a given time
- Accidents that result from defective flooring or loose carpeting
What Types of Injuries Do Premises Accident Victims Frequently Suffer?
Premises accident victims can suffer a whole host of injuries, depending upon the circumstances surrounding their accident and the amount of force involved. In accident scenarios where an individual falls on the ground or floor, victims are more likely to suffer serious and sometimes permanent injuries.
For example, if an accident victim strikes their head on the ground when they fall, they may suffer a concussion, migraine, or other traumatic head and brain injury. As a result, they can face numerous complications, including permanent memory loss.
Likewise, when a premises accident victim slips on ice or snow and strikes their neck or back on the ground, they may suffer a spinal cord injury, such as full or partial paralysis. As a result, they may have limited motion or feeling in their affected body parts. Spinal cord and paralysis injuries typically happen when one or more nerves become severed in a premises accident.
Next, if an accident victim slips on ice and lands on their hand, arm, elbow, knee, leg, or ankle, they may suffer a bone fracture. Depending upon the fracture’s physical location, an accident victim may need to undergo one or more surgeries and prolonged physical therapy to obtain relief.
Other injuries that premises accident victims may suffer include internal organ damage, open lacerations requiring stitches, and bruises.
If you suffered any of these injuries in a recent premises accident, you should immediately follow up with your primary care doctor—or at an emergency medical facility—for assistance. Symptoms are not always readily apparent with many injuries, including traumatic head injuries. Therefore, if the injury goes untreated, it may worsen significantly over time.
While you focus all your attention on getting better, a knowledgeable New Jersey premises liability lawyer can start advocating for you. They will negotiate with insurance company settlement adjusters and negotiate fair monetary damages that truly compensate you for your premises-accident injuries.
How Do You File a Premises Liability Claim or Lawsuit in New Jersey?
In most instances, premises accident victims in New Jersey and their lawyers will file a personal injury claim with the insurance company for the at-fault property owner. If the premises accident occurred on residential property, most homeowner insurance policies make provision for accidents on private property.
When submitting claim documents, your lawyer will typically include copies of incident reports, police reports, medical treatment records, medical bills, lost wage documents from your employer, and eyewitness statements, if any. Upon receipt, the insurance company adjuster handling your claim will review these documents. They will then decide whether to accept or deny fault for the accident.
If the insurance company denies fault for the accident, your lawyer may need to file a lawsuit in court. Otherwise, they might make an initial settlement offer to resolve your premises accident claim.
A knowledgeable New Jersey premises liability attorney can assist you during settlement negotiations by highlighting the strengths of your premises accident claim. During settlement negotiations, your lawyer will point to your claimed injuries, medical treatment records and bills, and other pertinent evidence which supports your claim.
If the insurance company refuses to offer you high enough monetary compensation to settle your claim, your legal team can threaten them with litigation and, if necessary, file a lawsuit in court seeking the damages you deserve.
When filing a lawsuit, your legal team will help you comply with the New Jersey personal injury statute of limitations. In New Jersey, premises accident victims only have two years from their accident date to file a lawsuit seeking damages. This is an extremely short timeframe, and if you are not careful, the statute of limitations time clock can run out quickly. An NJ premises liability lawyer will file your lawsuit promptly, safeguarding your right to recover monetary damages in your case.
Filing a Claim for Damages Following a Slip and Fall on Ice
You can claim various monetary damages if you suffered injuries after a slip and fall on ice or snow, but only if the property owner is to blame. Different premises accident victims sustain different injuries, and not all accidents happen similarly. Therefore, the monetary damages that accident victims will obtain typically vary from case to case.
With a knowledgeable New Jersey premises liability attorney on your side, you significantly increase your chances of obtaining a favorable monetary recovery for your injuries through the settlement or litigation process.
Common categories of monetary damages that premises accident victims recover include compensation for:
- Related medical and physical therapy expenses
- Lost wages
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Permanent disfigurement and impairment
- Loss of the ability to use a body part, such as with a paralysis injury
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Loss of spousal companionship and consortium
- Past pain and suffering
- Future pain and suffering
- Wrongful death, if the accident victim suffered fatal injuries in their premises accident
You can bet that property or business insurance companies will undervalue your damages. While you can provide medical bills, pay statements, and other receipts to prove your economic damages, your non-economic damages are subjective.
Insurance companies might use a multiplier method or per diem method to calculate your intangible losses, like pain and suffering. However, these methods routinely provide a figure that is less than you deserve.
You want a premises liability lawyer to calculate your damages for you. They can provide evidence to back up your demands to the insurance company. The right attorney will never advise you to accept an insufficient offer that does not cover your past, future, and intangible losses.
Speak With a Knowledgeable New Jersey Premises Liability Attorney Today
Time is of the essence if you or a person you care about suffered recent injuries in a premises accident. The longer you wait to retain qualified legal counsel, the lower your chances of recovering the favorable monetary compensation you deserve. Also, if you wait too long to seek legal help in your case, the statute of limitations may run, preventing you from recovering any monetary damages for your injuries.
A skilled legal team can help you during the various stages of your case, including investigation, claims filing, litigation, trial, mediation, or binding arbitration.
For a free case evaluation and legal consultation, call an experienced personal injury lawyer, today.