Who is liable when you slip and fall on ice in NJ?

Do I have a personal injury case after falling on ice in NJ?

Slip-and-fall cases can result in serious injuries. Broken wrists and shoulder injuries are very common. Not only can the treatment of these injuries result in costly medical bills, but the injury could also make it difficult for the injured party to return to work. In this situation, a victim may wonder if the property owner is responsible for these costs.

The answer depends on the details of the accident. Although the answer for each specific case will depend on a detailed analysis of the facts of the case, the following information on New Jersey state law can help you decide if your case could qualify for compensation.

Personal property versus commercial property, does it matter?

One of the most important factors to answer whether or not a slip on an icy sidewalk results in liability for the property owner is where the accident happened. Was the property private or commercial? The court in Stewart v. 104 Wallace Street, Inc. found that it is generally fair to hold property owners of commercial property responsible for maintaining abutting public sidewalks. A failure to do so can result in liability. The court did not extend this requirement to residential land owners.

A separate case, Luchejko v. D&D Snow Plowing Company, took this question a step further. What would happen if the sidewalk abutted a homeowners' association (HOA)? Ultimately, the court held that this HOA was not a commercial entity. As such, it was not liable.

Qian v. Toll Brothers Inc., readdresses the question of liability and HOAs. In this case, the HOA owned common areas like the sidewalks. The HOA was responsible for the maintenance of these areas. A pedestrian slipped on ice after a snowstorm and argued that the HOA should be liable for the costs connected to the accident since the HOA did not maintain the sidewalk.

Language within the HOA documents requires the HOA maintain these areas. The pedestrian provided evidence that showed the HOA hired a contractor to remove snow and salt the roadways but did not request work on the sidewalks. Due to the facts of this case, the immunity that is generally granted to property owners of residential property did not extend to provide immunity to the HOA in this situation.

Do I have a slip-and-fall case?

As noted above, the answer will depend on the details. Although residential property owners may qualify for immunity, Qian shows that there are instances when this immunity fails. As such, it is wise for anyone that suffers serious injuries when slipping on the ice to seek legal counsel. An attorney can help review your case, explore your recovery options and better ensure your legal rights and remedies are protected.