Here’s a summary of a recent Bergen County slip and fall lawyer case.
Victoria hurt herself when she slipped and fell in an icy parking lot. The Mahwah Board of Education owned and maintained the lot. The Board contracted with Dutra Excavating and Sewer to assist with snow removal.
Several days after a snowstorm, Victoria parked her car in a parking lot owned by the Board. She walked through the lot to the adjacent school. She came to pick up her daughter. Victoria claimed that, as she returned through the lot back to the car, she slipped and fell on black ice.
The Board manages five public schools in Mahwah. It used its own employees for snow removal. It also employed Dutra as an outside contractor. Dutra only provided services if contacted by the Board. The board would instruct the contractor on what work to do and when to do it. Dutra did not perform any de-icing services. The Board’s own personnel provided and spread salt on the parking lots and sidewalks.
Victoria fell in a parking lot referred to as the “Center for Food Action. ” The lot is on property leased to a private organization of the same name. The lot, however, is owned and maintained by the Board and is used as a parking lot by school employees and high school students.
Victoria hired a slip and fall lawyer to sue the Board and Dutra. The slip and fall lawyer filed suit in Bergen County Superior Court.
CITIES USUALLY NOT LIABLE FOR CARELESS SNOW REMOVAL
Both parties being sued moved to have the case dismissed. The Board argued it was entitled, as a government entity, to legal immunity for snow removal activities. Dutra contended it had no liability either, as it had simply performed the snow removal duties directed by the Board.
The Bergen County trial judge granted the defendants’ motions. Victoria’s slip and fall lawyer appealed.
Sadly for Victoria, the appeals judges upheld the trial judge’s ruling. Under New Jersey law, while you and I may be responsible for negligent snow removal on property which we own, municipalities generally are not.
As for Dutra, the judges noted that “Dutra had no duty to … de-ice the parking lot, nor did Dutra ever undertake to do the same.”
IF YOU EVER SLIP ON BLACK ICE, DON’T ASSUME YOU HAVE NO CASE
However, if you ever slip and fall on ice, and suffer injury, don’t assume that you don’t have a case. Private landowners ARE generally responsible for careless snow removal. Even if the accident occurs on public property, an experienced slip and fall attorney may be able to gain compensation for you. There are exceptions to the general immunity that cities are granted for their snow removal activities. Accordingly, a sharp slip and fall lawyer may be able to take advantage of such an exception and win your case.