Related: Fall-Down Accidents, Personal Injury Practice, Slipping on Snow/Ice.


As New Jersey attorneys who represent those injured in fall-down accidents, we are frequently asked who is responsible for fall-down and trip-and-fall accidents outside of a store. Is the store responsible? Is the landlord who owns the shopping center responsible?

The basics are discussed in our other article: Fall-Down Accidents. In short, for someone to be responsible for an accident you need to prove that they had a duty to do something, and because they failed to do that thing they caused injury. So what happens when you have an area in a shopping center that is directly around the store and someone is hurt in that area? This is a somewhat complicated issue, and the answer depends on a lot of important facts. An interesting case was recently decided by the New Jersey Appellate Division in Nielsen v. Wal-Mart Store #2171.

In that case, Mr. Nielsen was a contractor who went to a Wal-Mart store to do pest extermination. The store employees told him not to enter the store, but instead to go around to the back to access a certain area that was away from where the customers were allowed. The store did not own the surrounding property; the landlord did. Mr. Nielsen suffered a severe knee injury when he fell on loose rocks/gravel that gave out from under him. Wal-Mart argued that they could not be held responsible since they did not own the area where the fall occurred and the landlord was contractually obligated to maintain that area. But the court disagreed, holding that there are a number of factors to consider, other than the contract with the landlord and the question about who owned the property. Wal-Mart directed Mr. Nielsen to walk in that area, the store employees should have been familiar with that area, and Mr. Nielsen would have reasonably expected that Wal-Mart would not order him to walk into an unsafe area.

Again, this is a complicated issue that an attorney needs to evaluate. If the facts of the Wal-Mart case were different, the court may have held that the store was not responsible at all. Those injured at shopping centers should contact an attorney right away so that their rights are protected and so evidence is not discarded. At Raff & Raff, we work hard to identify all potentially liable parties and protect our clients’ rights.

Remember, the insurance companies have teams of lawyers working hard to protect the rights of their insureds. They will often make a host of arguments to avoid compensating people who were injured through no fault of their own.  If you have any question or you or a loved one were injured in an accident, please do not hesitate to contact us for a 100% free consultation.

Raff & Raff, LLP
Attorneys at Law
30 Church Street
Paterson, NJ 07505

Tel: (973) 742-1917
Fax: (973) 742-2454


Based in Paterson, New Jersey, Raff & Raff, LLP services clients in the communities of Bloomingdale, Clifton, Haledon, Hawthorne, Little Falls, Passaic, Paterson, Pompton Lakes, Prospect Park, Ringwood, Totowa, Wanaque, Wayne, West Milford, Woodland Park, Allendale, Alpine, Bergenfield, Bogota, Carlstadt, Cliffside Park, Closter, Cresskill, Demarest, Dumont, East Rutherford, Edgewater, Elmwood Park, Emerson, Englewood, Fair Lawn, Fort Lee, Franklin Lakes, Garfield, Glenn Rock, Hackensack, Hasbrouck Heights, Haworth, Hillsdale, Ho-Ho-Kus, Leonia, Little Ferry, Lodi, Lyndhurst, Mahwah, Maywood, Midland Park, Montvale, Moonachie, New Milford, North Arlington, Northvale, Norwood, Oakland, Old Tappan, Oradell, Palisades Park, Paramus, Park Ridge, Ramsey, Ridgefield, Ridgewood, River Edge, River Vale, Rochelle Park, Rockleigh, Rutherford, Saddle Brook, Saddle River, Teaneck, Tenafly, Teterboro, Waldwick, Wallington, Westwood, Wood-Ridge, Woodcliff Lake, Wyckoff, Belleville, Bloomfield, Caldwell, Cedar Grove, Orange, Essex Fells, Fairfield, Glen Ridge, Irvington, Livingston, Maplewood, Millburn, Montclair, Newark, North Caldwell, Nutley, Roseland, Verona, Bayonne, Jersey City, Hoboken, Union City, West New York, Guttenberg, Secaucus, Kearney, Harrison, North Bergen, Weehawken, Elizabeth, Linden, Plainsfield, Rahway, Union, Scotch Plains, Clark, Cranford, Hillside, Westfield, Roselle, and surrounding areas.