As a general rule, a slip and fall—or premises liability—claim is based on negligence. As the injured party, you must show that the owner or manager of the property breached a duty to use a reasonable amount of care to monitor the property and find/fix any dangerous conditions. There are, however, circumstances where the burden of proof shifts from the injured party to the defendant. Here’s how it works.
Under a legal principle known as the “mode of operation” doctrine, if the type of business is one that, by its nature, creates a hazardous or dangerous condition, the owner/manager of the building may be considered to expect potential safety problems. In such situations, there’s a rebuttable presumption of negligence. Essentially, that means that the defendant is presumed to have been negligent and must produce evidence to refute that presumption.
Some common examples of where the “mode of operation” doctrine applies are grocery stores and restaurants, where it’s common to have food or liquids spill on a floor.
In a ruling handed down by the New Jersey Supreme Court in 2015, the mode of operation doctrine was held to be applicable only in “limited circumstances.” That ruling found that the doctrine only applies:
- To businesses that offer self-service options
- In those areas of a business where customers have a self-service option
The court did find that the mode of operation doctrine can apply whether the negligence was associated with the plaintiff or the defendant.
Contact Our Office
For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 973-993-8787. We have office locations in Morristown and Newton, but will visit you in your home or the hospital, if necessary.
We take all personal injury claims on a contingency basis. You will not incur legal fees unless attorney Popper recovers compensation for your losses.