Here's a questions we recently received:
I was visiting my friend in Cherry Hill, NJ when I tripped on the sidewalk leading up to her apartment building. I fractured my ankle as a result of my fall. What are my legal rights? What kind of damages can I recover?
Answer: In New Jersey, commercial property owners may be responsible for a pedestrian’s fall or trip accident and injuries on public sidewalks that abut the property. Therefore, you may sue the property owners responsible for the maintenance of the sidewalk so long as they are commercial property owners. See New Jersey Sidewalk Fall Accident – Residential versus Commercial Owners.
In general, NJ sidewalk fall down accident law provides that residential property owners are not liable for sidewalk trip and fall accidents unless the owners engaged in active misconduct.
Even though the apartment building may be residential in the sense that it is a place where people live, it is commercial in the sense that it is operated by its owners as a business. Therefore, an apartment building is within the definition of a commercial property, and you may sue the owners of the apartment building.
In terms of damages, there are different types of damage claims. First, you may be able to financially recover medical costs, including past and future costs. These are medical expenses you incurred as a result of your fall.
Second, you may be able to recover for your past and future lost wages. For instance, if you couldn’t work for a couple of months because of your injuries, you may recover for your lost wages.
Another type of damage claim you may recover is pain and suffering, which is dependent on various factors. Pain and suffering is different for everyone. For instance, a construction worker who fractures his ankle as a result of the fall may suffer more pain and suffering than an office administrative assistant. The ankle fracture prevents the construction worker from working for several months while the ankle fracture may not prevent the office assistant from working because she can be seated while performing her job. Because the construction worker cannot work for several months, he may become depressed, withdrawn and suffer more emotional distress than the office assistant.
There are other factors we must consider, such as the condition that caused you to fall on the sidewalk, i.e., was the sidewalk in disrepair or was the sidewalk covered in debris. Therefore, it is important that you seek advice from a sidewalk fall accident lawyer in order to have your case properly evaluated.
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