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If Jack fell down and broke his crown, is the hill owner liable?

Most adults who grew up in New Jersey or other regions of the United States are familiar with the popular children's rhyme telling of a boy who tumbled down a hill and suffered a bump on his head. Although it may be a fun and entertaining way to teach children basic poetry skills, anyone who has ever slipped or fallen in a public venue or on another person's private property knows how anything but amusing it can be.


Imagine if that little childhood story ended with Jack filing a lawsuit against the property owner after determining he or she was negligent for leaving construction debris lying in the middle of the path knowing Jack would be walking there that day. Sounds silly, perhaps; yet, in real life, such situations often occur and may not only result in severe injuries but lead to financial problems and other complicated matters in the weeks and months that follow an accident.

Basic premises liability facts

Undoubtedly, the most important item of concern if you suffer bodily injury in a fall on someone's property is obtaining immediate medical care. Beyond that, you may have questions regarding negligence or premises laws. Here are some of the basics:

  • Most premises liability cases involve some sort of dangerous conditions, such as wet floors, broken railings, cracked cement, poor lighting or strewn debris.
  • Burden of proof in personal injury claims lies with the plaintiff.
  • Generally speaking, you can establish a property owner's negligence if you can show that he or she created the danger, knew of an existing dangerous condition and did nothing to amend it, and foresaw that the failure to correct or remove the danger caused the injury.
  • One or more parties may be liable in a particular situation.

Laws vary somewhat concerning commercial versus private properties. For instance, in order to obtain monetary judgment against the landlord of a private apartment, you must prove the landlord had control over the condition that caused your injury. There are also stringent regulations regarding injuries that occur on government property. It's crucial to remember there are usually limitations in place determining how much time may pass between your accident and the filing of a personal injury claim.

If you plan on filing a premises liability claim in New Jersey, you'll want to thoroughly document details of the events leading up to and following your accident to help substantiate your claim. An experienced personal injury attorney can advise you on the best means for doing so, which may include photographing the accident scene and/or obtaining statements from witnesses. In fact, an attorney can perform these actions on your behalf and offer guidance as you navigate the civil justice system.

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