Falls and other injuries on commercial properties are not only embarrassing, but can be painful and financially devastating. If your fall, accident, or other injury was caused by poor maintenance or dangerous conditions on the premises of a New Jersey shopping mall or supermarket, our law firm can help.
The Reinartz Law firm has been representing New Jersey injury victims for many years. We know how dangerous local shopping malls and supermarkets can be, especially during crowded shopping seasons. Parking lots are often poorly maintained.
Shopping carts can cause injury from runaway wheels or poor maintenance. Sales and retail promotions can result in overcrowding. Spills, wet floors, unstable shelves or toppling merchandise can cause injury, resulting in serious medical bills and other damages.
If you are injured at a shopping mall, supermarket, bodega or other retail establishment, there are premises liability laws that exist to protect customers.
Both Property Owners and Maintainers Are Responsible
In the state of New Jersey, both owners of the property and the maintainer of the property can be held liable for injuries that occur on the property. This means that if you can prove your case, they may be required to pay compensation for your damages, including medical bills and non-economic damages that result from your unfortunate accident.
You may thus have multiple claims for your injury. First, you may make a claim against the property owner, whether an indoor shopping mall or an open-air strip mall. These owners are responsible for protecting visitors from dangerous conditions and other recognizable hazards. Second, if you were injured inside one of the stores in the mall, you may make an additional claim against that particular retailer, and any other company responsible for maintaining the premises. Your attorney can help you determine all appropriate parties in your case.
Injuries that were sustained in a parking lot may also result in multiple claims against the shopping mall owner and a separate maintainer of the parking lot, such as a snow removal contractor. New Jersey laws require commercial premises owners and shopping center owners to take reasonable steps to make sure their properties are safe for customers. Cases like slips and falls from icy conditions or uneven paved parking lots are common claims. Even if you were just browsing or passing through a store, you are still owed protection against dangerous conditions on the property.
Duty of Care
The first requirement in making a claim against a shopping mall or supermarket is to prove that they owed you a duty of care. This means that the property owner and/or maintainer must have a duty, or responsibility to make the premises safe for you. The very nature of a retail business is to invite the public onto the property to transact business. Therefore, New Jersey law confers on owners of commercial and retail properties a duty of care to properly maintain the properties for customers on the premises.
Some steps that property owners and retailers should take to ensure a premises is safe include, but are not limited to:
- Keeping floors clean and clear from debris and slippery substances.
- Promptly cleaning up spills that could cause injury.
- Posting signage to mark recent spills or recent clean-ups, which could leave floors wet or slippery.
- Maintaining public spaces by fixing broken floor tiles, cracked sidewalks, crumbling walls or doorframes, or broken escalators and elevators.
- Clearing snow and using de-icing products to prevent black ice and frozen pathways in winter.
- Offering cart corals or hiring personnel to move and properly store shopping carts.
- Keeping retail items carefully shelved to prevent falling items or unstable displays.
- Ensuring that all automatic doors are properly functioning.
When these basic steps have been overlooked and a property is not well maintained, accidents can occur, causing serious injury to customers. To prove causation, you simply need to establish that the property owner's breach of the duty of care was a substantial factor in causing the injuries. Often, you must show that, if they had properly maintained their property, your injury would not have occurred.
In some cases, it is clear that the property owner or manager is 100% at fault and should be found entirely responsible for all damages. However, there are some cases when both a victim and a property owner may have shared responsibility for an accident. Perhaps a driver was not paying attention in a parking lot and didn’t see the pile of snow in a parking spot. Or a customer was talking on a cell phone and didn’t realize they were about to walk into a stacked display of merchandise.
In cases like these, a jury will determine the percentage of responsibility that lies with the business and the percentage that falls on the customer. If the injured person is determined to be partially responsible for the accident, then their recovery may be reduced in proportion to their percentage responsibility.
What is Covered in a Shopping Injury Claim?
When you file a claim against a shopping mall, retailer or grocery store, you are basically asking for compensation for your damages. This typically includes compensation for medical bills caused by the accident, lost income if you couldn’t work due to your injuries, pain and suffering, and sometimes even wrongful death.
The amount of compensation received and how it is paid out varies greatly between different cases, depending on the severity of the physical injuries, comparative negligence considerations and the amount of economic damages. All compensation claims must be clearly documented, so be sure to keep copies of all bills, pharmaceutical receipts, and other related costs to ensure that you get reimbursed for the maximum amount you are owed.
Contact the Reinartz Law Firm Today
Since slip and fall injury claims are multi-faceted, you are best-served by having an experienced, skilled attorney on your side. Property owners have legal teams and insurance companies trying to reduce the amount they must pay out. You deserve the same kind of skill and attention to detail in your corner. Contact our law offices today for a free initial consultation of your case and we will help you determine how to move forward.