Can I File a Claim if I Slip and Fall on an Icy Sidewalk?
New Jersey winters bring freezing temperatures that cause ice to form on sidewalks or walkways where someone can easily slip and fall. If you get injured on an icy sidewalk, you may be wondering whether you can file a claim for compensation.
Our New Jersey slip and fall accident lawyers are prepared to help. We can discuss your legal options during a free consultation.
Below, we discuss who may be liable if you slip and fall on ice on a private or public sidewalk.
Who May Be Liable for My Damages?
Property owners are legally responsible for keeping their premises safe and free of obstructions that may result in injuries to others. This is also known as the duty of care.
If a property owner fails to take reasonable precautions to prevent someone from getting injured on their premises or breaches that duty of care, then he or she may be held liable for any damages a person suffers if an accident occurs.
Property owners can be any one of the following:
- Business owners
- Government municipalities
These entities are legally obligated to remove hazards from sidewalks on their property or ensure the public is warned about potential hazards. This includes snow and ice on a sidewalk when the temperature drops.
A homeowner is responsible for the upkeep of the sidewalk in front of his or her home. The same goes for any sidewalks that are on a business’ property. Even though the public may have access to these sidewalks, their maintenance is the responsibility of the property owner.
Any sidewalks not on private property are the responsibility of a government entity.
What if the Sidewalk is on Public Property?
If the duty of care falls onto a government entity, the process for filing a claim for a slip and fall on an icy sidewalk may look a little different than a claim for a privately-owned sidewalk.
New Jersey is protected from most tort actions, or civil lawsuits, under State Statute Title 59. This means that if you are injured due to the negligence of a government entity in New Jersey, your options for pursuing compensation may be limited. You can still recover compensation though.
The state allows only 90 days to file a claim for damages, whereas most accident victims have up to two years to file a lawsuit against a private entity if they suffer an injury.
You must ensure you file the claim through the appropriate government body, too, because your claim may be denied if you make an error when filing.
With the limited time to file and the strict rules surrounding claims against the government, it is important that you work with an attorney who knows the law and your rights.
How Can I Prove I Slipped on an Icy Sidewalk Due to Negligence?
To recover compensation for your damages, you must prove your injuries were the result of the negligent actions of another party. In cases of slip and fall accidents on an icy sidewalk, you must prove the liable party failed to remove ice and snow from the walkway or failed to provide adequate warning of the slippery surface.
To prove the property owner was negligent, you may be able to use any photos you took at the scene of your fall. Testimony from eyewitnesses may also help strengthen your claim about ice on the sidewalk.
Since the ice is likely to melt from the time you fall to the time someone investigates your claim, preserving evidence from the scene, such as by taking pictures, is important.
If the fall occurred at a business, you may be able to get copies of surveillance video showing what happened. However, since the business is likely the liable party in your case, your attorney may have to subpoena the footage if it is not voluntarily handed over.
What Questions Will I Get Asked After Filing a Claim?
When you file a claim for compensation after a slip and fall accident, the insurance company will most likely ask you several questions about your claim.
In cases of an icy sidewalk, they may ask if you were aware that the sidewalk was slippery or if you were distracted by something, like your phone, while you were walking. The insurance company asks these questions to try and shift the blame for your injuries onto you.
You may also get asked whether you were injured. That is why it is important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible after an accident. The insurance company may also ask if you reported the incident to anyone. This is another important step if you slip and fall on an icy sidewalk. If it is on a business owner’s property, you should report it to the property manager.
Another question the insurance company may ask is if you were intoxicated at the time of the accident. While honesty is important in every case, it is also important to understand that the things you say to the insurance company could be used against you. If you were intoxicated at the time of the accident, it does not automatically make you ineligible to recover compensation. However, it does make it more difficult. That is why you should seek help from a licensed attorney before speaking to the insurance company.
Did You Slip on an Icy Sidewalk? Call Us Today
If you were injured in a slip and fall accident on an icy sidewalk, you may be eligible for compensation.
Call our experienced attorneys today to learn more about your legal options. We offer a free consultation, and there are no upfront fees for our services. We only get paid if you do.
Call (800) 518-0508 today.