Slip & Fall Injuries: Sidewalks
By: Attorney, Martin S. Pappaterra
Many slip and fall accidents in New Jersey are caused by cracks or upheavals of a sidewalk. New Jersey is largely made up of communities that have sidewalks, including locations in Mercer County and Burlington County.
A number of things cause sidewalks to crack: the age of the sidewalk, it’s exposure to weather conditions, tree roots or truck traffic all lead to cracks which create dangerous conditions to a sidewalk. Any person using a public sidewalk that is in a dangerous condition can potentially be harmed. Personal injuries, often serious personal injuries, can be caused by these defects in sidewalks.
In most cases, sidewalks are public easements that are essentially owned by the Town or City in which they exist. However, it is difficult to sue the governmental entity responsible for the sidewalk. Even if a sidewalk causes serious personal injuries, the New Jersey Tort’s Claim Act places restrictions on the ability to sue a government entity for an accident caused as a result of a condition of their sidewalk.
Fortunately, the New Jersey Supreme Court has imposed a responsibility on the owners of commercial properties to maintain the adjacent sidewalk. Stewart vs. 104 Wallace Street, Inc. 97 NJ 146 (1991). Therefore, if you fall on a sidewalk next to a commercial property, that landlord or owner would be responsible. The issue becomes more difficult when a person falls in front of a residential property. New Jersey’s Courts have not extended legal responsibility for slip & fall injuries caused by defects in a sidewalk adjacent to a residential property. Even though most municipalities require by ordinance that the property owner maintain their sidewalk, the Court’s in New Jersey have refused to hold property owners liable for slip and falls as a result of a defective sidewalk in front of a residential home.
However, this Rule like every other Rule has exceptions. If you can demonstrate that the property owner had some responsibility for creating the dangerous condition of the sidewalk or that the owner had made repairs and done so in a negligent manner liability can attach. Many cases were people suffered serious personal injuries do occur in front of residential property owner’s premises and unless you have an injury lawyer who is willing to dig for the facts and to determine the reason the sidewalk is in a dangerous condition, your case may be rejected. Pellettieri, Rabstein and Altman specialize in slip and fall cases including those accidents that occur on sidewalks. Our attorneys will make every effort to obtain information that would be helpful in proving a legitimate case for you in a slip and fall on a sidewalk. This also includes slip and fall that occur as a result of icy conditions to the sidewalk where the law is similar for that where the sidewalk is upheaved or have dangerous cracks in it.
About the Author:
Our firm will provide a free consultation involving slip and fall accidents where personal injuries are suffered. The writer of this article is from the Burlington County office of Pellettieri, Rabstein and Altman located in Westampton, New Jersey in Burlington County. Martin Pappaterra is available for consultation free of charge to discuss your slip and fall case. He is certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Civil Trial Attorney and has practiced law since 1983.
Return to Our Articles