Notwithstanding the responsibility of an owner or occupier of property, a patron also has responsibility for exercising reasonable care under the particular circumstances he or she is faced with. For example, if the patron is aware of a dangerous condition, such as a broken stair or a deep hole in a parking lot, he or she cannot simply ignore it and then blame the property owner or occupier for a condition that was obvious.
Whether a store owner should have known about a dangerous condition depends on what would be considered reasonable under the particular circumstances of the incident. A proprietor must make reasonable inspections of the premises. If a patron slips on a grape in the produce section of a supermarket and surveillance video shows that the proprietor inspected the area every thirty minutes and that the grape was dropped by another patron approximately five minutes before the accident and fifteen minutes after the last inspection, one could not expect the proprietor to be aware that the grape was on the floor because it wouldn’t be reasonable to expect the proprietor to post an employee in every aisle to watch for grapes that might be dropped. On the other hand, if the grape fell at 9:00 am, the patron fell on the grape at 4:00 pm and there were no inspections performed at any time between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm, it would be much more reasonable to hold the store accountable for failing to discover the grape on the floor.
A patron of a business has a right to assume that the area in which he or she is expected to be is free from obstruction or other hazards. The patron is not required to maintain a continued surveillance of the floor to discover hazards but would be considered negligent if he or she was not exercising due care for his or her own protection immediately before the accident. On the other hand, if the patron was exercising due care, then he or she would not be negligent.
In New Jersey, the doctrine of comparative negligence precludes recovery for anyone who is determined to be greater than fifty percent responsible for an accident. In cases in which the injured person is fifty percent responsible for the accident or less, their monetary recovery is reduced by their percentage of negligence.
Probably the most common cause of people contributing to their own slip and fall and trip and fall injuries is failing to properly watch where they are walking, perhaps because they are looking at their phone, looking at something else nearby, carrying large or bulky items or simply not paying attention.
The majority of claims and lawsuits for personal injuries are settled out of court. While a large percentage of slip and fall and trip and fall cases are also settled, these cases do involve some difficult issues and perhaps a greater number of cases may go to trial compared to cases involving automobile accidents.
For more information on Avoiding Liability In A Slip & Fall Case, a free case evaluation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (908) 923-0020 today.
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