In New Jersey, as with all other states, there are laws governing the responsibilities of residential and commercial property owners, providing protection to people who have suffered injury on real property. As a general rule, the owner (or person responsible for exercising control) of the premises has a duty to maintain them in such way as to minimize the risk of injury to anyone lawfully on the property.
The first thing to understand is that there’s no absolute duty to repair any safety risk. Though that can meet the duty to properly maintain the premises, the owner has other options, including:
- Preventing access to that part of the property where the risk of injury exists
- Providing reasonable notice to potential visitors of the known risk
It’s also important to understand that the duty imposed is one of reasonableness. A property owner won’t necessarily be liable for any hazardous condition—only those of which he/she was or should have reasonably been aware and could reasonably take measure to address. For example, a property owner may have a duty to remove snow and ice from a sidewalk, steps or other thoroughfare, but need not go to extraordinary measures to clear a snowy or icy path.
The duty is only owed to those who are legally on the property—trespassers typically don’t have a claim for a slip and fall injury. With respect to persons legally on the property, New Jersey distinguishes between “invitees” and “licensees.” An invitee is typically someone who is on the property for the benefit of the owner—the owner owes that person the highest duty of care. A licensee, on the other hand, is typically on the property for his or her primary benefit. There’s still a duty owed, but only to the extent the owner knew or should have known about the condition and would have been reasonably expected to fix it.
Contact Attorney Howard D. Popper
To learn your options when you have been injured because of someone else’s carelessness, contact our office online or call attorney Popper at 973-993-8787. We have offices in Morristown and Newton, but will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary. There is no charge for your first consultation.
We handle all personal injury claims on a contingency basis. You won’t be charged any legal fees unless attorney Popper recovers compensation for your losses.