A new round of personal injury litigation will commence resulting from a slip-and-fall accident that occurred at a KFC restaurant in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. The plaintiff was injured after sliding on a slick floor near the restaurant bathroom. The plaintiff experienced loss of feeling in her arms, legs and back, as well as a tingling sensation and pain, which required intermittent visits to the emergency room over a two-month period. The plaintiff’s attorney held that the KFC employees were accountable for creating the hazardous conditions that precipitated the accident because they had spread cooking grease from the kitchen to the bathroom.

To successfully file a personal injury claim resulting from a slip-and-fall accident, plaintiffs need to demonstrate that the defendant was aware of the hazardous conditions and did not implement safety measures to correct the situation and prevent the possibility of falling and incurring injuries. However, plaintiffs are exempt from this “burden of proof” if the accident happens at a self-service business where injuries are more likely to occur due to lack of supervision by employees.

The New Jersey Supreme Court overturned the initial ruling and requested a new trial after deciding that the trial court erroneously applied a burden of proof exemption in the KFC slip-and-fall case. According to the New Jersey Supreme Court, the “mode of operation” rule or burden of proof exemption had no bearing on the jury’s decision because it is exclusively applicable to businesses regulated by “self-serve” policies where customers act independently and are in direct contact with store products or equipment without being monitored or assisted by employees. An example of a case where a burden of proof exemption might apply is if a customer slips in a self-service section of a grocery store because someone might have spilled some string beans on the floor.

The law firm of O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble has significant experience successfully handling slip-and-fall accident cases. Victims often sustain injuries from sliding over wet, slippery surfaces or stumbling on rough, jagged terrain. Premises liability law dictates that landlords, business owners and operators are responsible for the safety of those present at their facilities, including residents, employees, customers, clients and the general public. If people are exposed to hazardous conditions, signs should be conspicuously displayed on the premises to warn about the possibility of impending danger. Failure to sufficiently upkeep property and failure to warn of hazardous conditions are grounds for personal injury lawsuits.

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