New Jersey Premises Liability Lawyer
Premises Liability Claims
New Jersey Premises Liability Claims are complicated legal matters and success will depend on many factors individual to each case. As New Jersey Premises Liability Lawyers we can help you get compensation for your injuries. The status of the injured person on the land is the initial inquiry to determine the duty owed by the Landowner. Typically the owner of the land has a nondelegable duty to those inured on the property. The level of care the Landowner is required to undertake depends on the status of the injured person. For example if the injured person is a trespasser on the land the duty is slight and a landowner only needs to refrain from intentionally harming the trespasser. Call today to discuss your injury case with a New Jersey Premises Liability Lawyer.
Steven P. Lombardi, Esq
SLIP AND FALL PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS UNDER NEW JERSEY LAW
The common-law approach to landowner tort liability is "predicated on the status of the person on the property at the time of the injury." The duty of care owed by the landowner depends on whether the injured party is a "trespasser", "licensee" or "business invitee," The New Jersey Supreme Court has also found that instead of a landowner's duty of care turning on the common-law designation of the party injured, the determination "whether a person owes a duty of reasonable care toward another would turn on whether the imposition of such a duty satisfies an abiding sense of basic fairness under all of the circumstances in light of considerations of public policy. These factors include, "the relationship of the parties, the nature of the attendant risk, the opportunity and ability to exercise care, and the public interest in the proposed solution." Call today to discuss your injury case with a New Jersey Premises Liability Lawyer. However, the starting point in all premises liability cases in New Jersey begins with determining the "relationship between the parties."
INVITEE - HIGHEST DUTY OF CARE
The Business Invitee
The business visitor includes, for example, an entrant that is a prospective customer in a store, even if the customer does not intend to make a purchase. All that is required is some prospective advantage to the landowner. The duty a landowner owes to a business visitor is to ensure the premises is free of defects and safe for the public. The landowner also has an absolute obligation to repair any dangerous conditions on the property and to warn any business visitors of hidden defects. Call today to discuss your injury case with a New Jersey Premises Liability Lawyer.
LICENSEE - INTERMEDIATE DUTY OF CARE
A licensee is one whose presence on the land is tolerated or permitted and thus not a trespasser, but who technically does not qualify as an invitee. For example, social guests are usually considered licensees even if the landowner expressly invites the social guest onto his property. Call today to discuss your injury case with a New Jersey Premises Liability Lawyer.
Licensees are treated somewhat better than trespassers. However, the landowner owes no duty to inspect the premises or make it reasonably safe. The landowner is liable only if he knows or has reason to know of the dangerous condition on the land and should realize this condition is dangerous.
TRESPASSER - MINIMAL DUTY OF CARE
Traditionally, the landowner owed only a duty not to intentionally, wantonly, or recklessly injure the trespasser. Therefore, the landowner was not liable for ordinary negligence toward the trespasser. The landowner owes a duty not to wantonly inflict injury upon a trespasser who does not intend to commit a crime on the property.
Duties to Child Trespassers are different
In Premises liability cases involving children, landowners usually owe a higher duty of care to trespassing children under the following conditions:
1. trespass by children is reasonably foreseeable; and
2. the landowner knows or has reason to know of the danger; and
3. there is reason to think the child, by reason of his age, will not be able to protect himself from the danger.
Owners who have created an artificial or man-made condition which they have reason to believe children may trespass upon, or whose land includes something that may be expected to attract children, are under a duty to provide such care as a reasonably prudent person would take to prevent injury. Call today to discuss your injury case with a New Jersey Premises Liability Lawyer.
DANGEROUS CONDITIONS OF PUBLIC PROPERTY
LIABILITY OF PUBLIC ENTITIES
A public entity is responsible for injuries proximately caused by a dangerous condition of its property only in accordance with the terms of the Tort Claims Act. N.J.S.A. 59:1-1, et.seq.
N.J.S.A. 59:4-2 sets forth that:
A public entity is liable for injury caused by a condition of its property if the plaintiff establishes that the property was in dangerous condition at the time of the injury, that the injury was proximately caused by the dangerous condition, that the dangerous condition created a reasonably foreseeable risk of the kind of injury which was incurred, and that either:
a. A negligent or wrongful act or omission of an employee of the
public entity within the scope of his employment created the
dangerous condition; or
b. A public entity had actual or constructive notice of the
dangerous condition under section 59:4-3 a sufficient time prior
to the injury to have taken measures to protect against the
Nothing in this section shall be construed to impose liability upon
a public entity for a dangerous condition of its public property if the
action the entity took to protect against the condition or the failure
to take such action was not palpably unreasonable.
In order for a plaintiff to recover against a public entity, he or she must prove each of the following five elements:
1. That the property was in a dangerous condition at the time of injury;
2. That the injury was proximately caused by the dangerous condition;
3. That the dangerous condition created a foreseeable risk of the kind of injury which was incurred;
a. That the public entity had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition in sufficient time prior to the injury to protect against the dangerous condition; Or
b. That an employee of the public entity, acting within the scope of his/her
employment either created the dangerous condition or, by his/her
inaction, allowed the dangerous condition to be created;
5. That any measures taken by the public entity, or its failure to take any measures, were palpably unreasonable.
Failure to prove any one of these elements will defeat a plaintiff's claim.
SIDEWALK SLIP AND FALL LIABILITY
Residential Property Owners/Occupants:
In general, the owner or occupant of a residential premises abutting a public sidewalk is not responsible for defects caused by the action of the elements or by the wear and tear incident to public use. If, however, the defective condition of the sidewalk was the result of the negligent construction thereof by the owner (occupant) or that it resulted from an activity, commercial or otherwise, which was carried on by him/her, the plaintiff may recover for the injuries proximately resulting from such defective condition. A residential property owner owes no duty to the public to repair a sidewalk which is in a state of disrepair by reason of normal wear and tear or by reason of the elements such as rain, snow, frost, and the like. Nor is mere failure fully to correct the old condition a sufficient basis for liability. Where, however, the owner attempts to make repairs to correct some defect therein for which he/she is not responsible, he/she becomes responsible if he/she makes the repairs negligently and thereby causes the sidewalk, after the repairs, to be more dangerous than before or if he/she causes a new hazard, different from the old. Where an abutting owner, although not obligated to construct a sidewalk, does so in such a manner that it is hazardous to pedestrians, it is a public nuisance and the owner is liable. An owner, attempting to repair an existing sidewalk, or to correct some defect therein, may create a nuisance and be responsible if the sidewalk, after the attempt to repair or correct is more dangerous than before, or the new hazard is different from the old. Call today to discuss your injury case with a New Jersey Slip and Fall Injury Lawyer.
Residential Owner's/Occupant's Liability regarding Snow and Ice
The owner of a residential premises abutting a public sidewalk is not required to keep the sidewalk free form the natural accumulation of ice and snow. However, he/she becomes liable if, in clearing the sidewalk of ice and snow, he/she, through his/her negligence, adds a new element of danger or hazard, other than that caused by the natural elements, to the use of the sidewalk by a pedestrian. In other words, while an abutting owner is under no duty to clear his/her sidewalk of ice and snow, he/she may become liable where he/she undertakes to clear the sidewalk and does so in a manner which creates a new element of danger which increases the natural hazard already there. Also, if a dangerous condition is created by runoff from a drainpipe or other defect, liability will follow. Call today to discuss your injury case with a New Jersey Slip and Fall Injury Lawyer.
Liability of Owner of Commercial Property
The owner of commercial property has the duty to use reasonable care to see to it that the sidewalks abutting the property are reasonably safe for members of the public who are using them. In other words, the law says that the owner of commercial property must exercise reasonable care to see to it that the condition of the abutting sidewalk is reasonably safe and does not subject pedestrians to an unreasonable risk of harm. The concept of reasonable care requires that owner of commercial property to take action with regard to conditions within a reasonable period of time after the owner becomes aware of the dangerous condition or, in the exercise of reasonable care, should have become aware of it. This duty is also extended to commercial tenants in exclusive possession of a premises abutting a sidewalk. A commercial owner (tenant) is thus liable for injuries of plaintiffs if (a) there was a condition on the sidewalk (or premises) that was dangerous in that it created an unreasonable risk of harm for pedestrians, and (b) that the owner (tenant) knew of that condition or should have known if it but failed to take such reasonable action to correct or remedy the situation within a reasonable time period thereafter as a reasonably prudent commercial or business owner would have done under the circumstances.
If a property owner contends that he/she had no notice or knowledge of an alleged dangerous condition and, therefore, cannot be held responsible for it, it is nonetheless their duty to make reasonable observations of their property, including the abutting sidewalk, in order to disclose any dangerous condition that might occur or develop. The owner must make observations of his/her property, including the sidewalk, with a frequency that a reasonably prudent commercial property owner would in the circumstances. Call today to discuss your injury case with a New Jersey Slip and Fall Injury Lawyer.
The same analysis is applied to snow and ice claims. The action required by law is action which a reasonably prudent person would take or should have taken under the circumstances to correct the defect (snow/ice accumulation), remove it, or take other actions to minimize the danger to pedestrians within a reasonable period of time after notice thereof.
PREMISES SECURITY LIABILITY
The proprietor of a business premises owes a duty to patrons to provide a reasonably safe place to do that which is within the scope of the invitation. The duty is to use due care under all the circumstances. The test of negligence is whether a reasonably prudent person at the time and place should recognize and foresee an unreasonable risk or likelihood of harm or danger to others. An important factor is whether it is foreseeable that the criminal acts of others would cause harm. Although a landowner has no legal duty to protect another from the criminal acts of a third person, a landowner's duty may arise when the criminal conduct of a third party is the foreseeable result of a landowner's negligence. When criminal conduct of a third party is foreseeable, the landowner has a duty to prevent injuries to invitees if it reasonably appears or should appear to them that other innocent persons may be injured on the property.
Author: Steven Lombardi
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Steven P. Lombardi
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