A Landowner’s Responsibility to Provide a Safe Environment
Premises Liability Law in New Jersey
In New Jersey, as in other states, a person or entity with control over residential or commercial property owes a duty to anyone legally on the property. The duty may be owed by an owner, landlord, tenant or property manager. As a general rule, the duty requires that reasonable measures be taken to identify any potentially dangerous situations, such as broken or cracked pavement or sidewalks, defective or dangerous flooring, slippery floors or other surfaces, or any conditions with steps, stairways, ramps, decks, rails, banisters or other property fixtures that might pose a risk of injury.
Under the law as it has developed in New Jersey, the owner/manager or property must reasonably monitor the premises identify any potentially dangerous situation. If there’s such a risk that the owner knows about (or should know about through the exercise of reasonable measures), the owner must:
- fix the problem
- prevent visitors from obtaining access to the area where the problem exists, or
- provide reasonable notice of the risk of harm or injury
It’s important to understand that there is no absolute duty to ensure that visitors are not injured on your property. You must only act as a reasonable person would. The law does not define what a reasonable person is…that is ultimately up to a judge or jury.
The landowner’s duty will differ, too, based on the status of the visitor. There is no duty to a trespasser—someone on the property without legal permission or purpose. Legitimate visitors fall into two categories—invitees and licensees:
- An invitee is someone expressly or impliedly invited on the premises by the property owner. The property owner owes an invitee the highest duty—to use reasonable care to keep the premises safe.
- A licensee is someone who enters the property for his or her own purposes. The duty to a licensee is to remedy or warn of conditions that the licensee is not likely to have discovered on his or her own.
Contact The Cintron Firm
At the Cintron Firm, LLC, we offer more than 14 years of experience to people in New Jersey facing a broad array of legal challenges. Contact our office online or call us at 201-791-1333 or 917-494-5695 to set up an appointment.