Slip & Fall

Slip & Fall

Premises liability generally refers to those injuries sustained as a result of an artificial or defective condition in the premises or on the real property.

There are specific laws for sidewalk injuries. Generally, residential property owners are not responsible for accidents as a result of a defective sidewalk or ice or snow unless the residential property owner caused the condition. On the other hand, the law imposes a duty on commercial property owners to keep the property free from debris, ice, snow or other dangerous conditions and injuries sustained as a result of conditions on commercial property causing injuries can be actionable.

For other defects, the law does not make a distinction between residential and commercial property. Thus, if a defect in the residential structure such as poorly maintained steps, doorways, handrails etc. are actionable if personal injuries are sustained as a result of the negligent condition.

Supermarkets, fast food establishments and restaurants are held to a higher standard of care if the injuries are caused as a result of the mode of operation of the business. For instance water and food on the floor is inherent in the operation of the business of a supermarket, restaurant etc. and can result in liability to the owner even if the owner was unaware of the condition.


 

Municipalities

Lawsuits against public entities are subject to a specific body of law known as the Tort Claims Act. This act places limitations on personal injury lawsuits against municipalities. In order to bring a lawsuit against a municipality, the plaintiff must file a Notice of Tort Claim. This notice must be filed within 90 days of the accident and then the plaintiff must wait 6 months to file the lawsuit. With respect to infants, this notice must be filed within 90 days of the infant’s 18th birthday.

If the time period is expired, the law allows limited relief in the form of an application to file a late notice of claim. This motion must be filed within one year of the date of the accident and must set forth a description of the extraordinary circumstances for the failure to file in the 90 day period. The court has discretion as to whether to permit the late filing and will consider the prejudice that may have been caused to the municipality by the failure to file a timely notice of tort claim.

In order to pursue a claim against a municipality for a dangerous condition of public property, the plaintiff must show actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition to the municipality and that the acts of the municipality was palpably unreasonable. Further, in order to pursue a claim for personal injuries, the plaintiff must proof a permanent loss of a bodily function, permanent disfigurement or dismemberment and medical treatment expenses in excess of $3,600.