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FAQ: I fell down a flight of stairs at a hotel we stayed at in Ocean City, NJ while on vacation and broke my wrist. I may have to get surgery. Can I sue the hotel? I live in Philadelphia, PA. If I can sue, where would the lawsuit be filed?

Answer: Yes, you may sue the hotel if the hotel was negligent and caused your fall down accident in NJ. Hotels have a duty to keep their premises reasonably safe from dangerous conditions so their patrons do not get hurt. Dangerous conditions may be inadequate lighting in dark stairwells, wet walkways, etc. If a hotel customer is injured due to an unreasonably dangerous condition on the premises, the hotel would be liable for the customer’s injuries and damages.

In your situation, if the stairs were dangerous, then the hotel may be liable for your injuries. For instance, if a step on the stairs was broken and caused you to fall, then the hotel may be negligent.

In addition, the hotel also needs to have known about the broken steps in order to be liable for your injuries. If 2 weeks prior to your fall, another patron notified the hotel about the broken step on the same stairway, then the hotel had notice of the broken step and had a duty to fix the broken step. Because the hotel did not fix the step, it is negligent for failing to fix the dangerous condition. If the hotel could not have fixed the broken step prior to your accident, it had a duty to warn customers of the broken step. It could have put barriers or cones to block the staircase so other customers, including you, would not use the stairway.

In terms of where the lawsuit would be filed, it would be filed in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey (federal court) due to diversity of citizenship, i.e., all parties are from different states. However, in order to file a personal injury fall down accident lawsuit in a federal court, your injuries have to exceed $75,000. The case may also be filed in the county where the accident occurred or where the defendant does business, i.e., Cape May County.

Related: Philadelphia Residents Injured in New Jersey Slip, Trip and Fall Accidents – What You Need to Know

In this scenario, if your injuries exceed $75,000 and you reside in Philadelphia, your fall down accident lawsuit would likely be filed in the local federal district court. However, if your injuries do not exceed $75,000, your lawsuit would be filed in a NJ state court even though the parties are from different states.

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