In New Jersey, property owners and tenants must ensure a reasonably safe environment to prevent injuries to anyone entering their property. Premises liability cases often come from slips, trips and falls resulting from hazardous conditions due to poorly maintained properties.
These accidents occur on private property, supermarkets, shopping centers, public sidewalks, amusement parks and other locations. When negligence causes your injuries, you may have a valid reason to file a premises liability lawsuit.
Factors that determine premises liability outcomes
New Jersey courts consider several components when assessing negligence and whether an injured person deserves compensation. These include:
- Visitor status: The four categories are invitee, social guest, licensee and trespasser. When injured visitors don’t fit any of these categories, the New Jersey Supreme Court directs lower courts to use a balancing test, which considers the relationship between the parties, the hazards, the owner’s duty of care and the public interest.
- Property condition: Owners and property managers must exercise reasonable care for maintaining the property for the safety of all visitors, except trespassers. This means fixing broken sidewalks, removing ice, snow or water and fixing or adequately warning visitors of other potential hazards.
- Trespassers: Property owners and managers owe adults who trespass on someone’s property a minimal duty of care. But courts often penalize property owners who intentionally or recklessly injure a trespasser.
- Children: Minors receive a higher duty of care than adults who illegally access the property, especially if the owner was aware of the danger and it is foreseeable that trespassing was likely to happen – the so-called “attractive nuisance” principle.
- Comparative negligence: In some cases, courts hold visitors partially responsible for their injuries if they fail to exercise reasonable caution. If they win a $100,000 judgment but are deemed 25% responsible, their award is reduced by $25,000.
Victims have two years to file a lawsuit after the injury occurs in most cases.
Talk to a lawyer before accepting a settlement
If a property owner’s negligence injures you, their insurance company will likely offer you a quick, lowball offer. It is advisable not to talk to an adjuster until you have a lawyer review your case. Some injuries have long-lasting or permanent consequences and calculating damages can be extremely challenging.
The experienced premises liability lawyers at Piro Zinna Cifelli Paris & Genitempo know how to assess medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering associated with these accidents. Your attorney will deal with insurance companies and look for a reasonable settlement or fight for your best interests in court if necessary.