We’ve all heard the saying, “You can’t fight City Hall”.  Truth be told, you can fight city hall if you have enough documentation. In New Jersey, public entities have extensive immunity from being sued for dangerous conditions to public property. Not only does the claimed injury have to meet certain criteria, but the negligence of the public entity also has to meet certain criteria.

To summarize, in order to file a claim for compensation against a public entity, it must be demonstrated that the public entity had notice of the dangerous condition, or that it created the dangerous condition, and that their actions were palpably unreasonable.  

A recent case decided in the Appellate Division demonstrates the importance of the investigative stage of these cases. In the case I am referring to, the plaintiff suffered serious injuries by falling in a crosswalk as a result of a three inch deep and 5 inch wide pothole filled with leaves. The case was pursued successfully by the injured person as a result of the thorough investigation as to the cause of the pothole and the opportunity of public employees to discover it and fix it.

Specifically, it was determined that the street was repaved over an open gas main box. Over time, the pavement collapsed, causing the hole. It was also determined that due to the busy intersection; a police officer was regularly present in the area of the pothole.  Without those facts, the injured victim of negligence would likely not be compensated.  That is why it is so very important to have a team on your side who knows these stipulations and understands the research that needs to be done in order to obtain compensation for your injuries.

Denise Mariani is a member of Stark & Stark’s Lawrenceville, New Jersey office, specializing in Accident & Personal Injury Law. For more information, please contact Ms. Mariani.