Aside from motor vehicle accidents, many persons sustain injuries due to defective conditions of property. The property in question may be a private home, an apartment complex, a store, a casino, a park or amusement facility, or a place of work. In all instances, the standard applied in all situations in New Jersey is the foreseeability of harm and the duty of care in proportion to the foreseeable risk. That is, the owner, manager, landlord, or general or sub-contractor owes a legal duty to persons invited onto their property to provide a reasonably safe place to do that which is within the scope of the invitation.
Furthermore, in all instances, a person seeking to make a claim for injuries sustained due to a defective condition of the property must show that the owner or entity responsible for the care of the property had actual or constructive notice of the defect for a reasonable period of time prior to the injury sustained. Notice may also be inferred, for example, where a store has a self-service or open display of fruit or vegetables such that spillage is foreseeable.
The duty imposed upon the property owner, manager, etc. requires an analysis of the comparison between the risk of injury and the degree by which the risk could have been diminished or abated. An example would be the duty of a property owner to protect customers from criminal assault by providing adequate security and lighting. The knowledge of the property owner of criminal activity on his premises or even in the area of town surrounding the premises and the failure to take reasonable steps to protect persons invited onto the property would subject the property owner to liability for the damages caused to the invitee. Property owners can even be liable to trespassers if their presence is foreseeable and they are injured by a dangerous condition of the property.
In a claim for injuries against a landlord, Housing code violations may also be evidence of negligence. In any event, the law requires a landlord to make reasonable and periodic inspections of the premises. The landlord of a commercial property is responsible for the maintenance of the public sidewalks abutting the property. So, the commercial landlord is responsible for reasonable and prompt snow/ice removal from the abutting sidewalks and parking lot. A residential property owner is not obligated to remove snow/ice from it’s abutting sidewalks. However, if the residential property owner does attempt to remove snow/ice or hires someone to remove the snow/ice from the abutting sidewalks and does an inadequate job, negligence could be attributed to said property owner and the entity who attempted to remove the snow/ice if someone sustains injury on the sidewalk.
The aforesaid is just a brief summary of the some of the many instances where a person or entity can be held liable for the injuries sustained by persons using the property and should not be considered exhaustive on this subject. If you have been injured due to a slippery substance on the floor of a store, cracked sidewalk abutting a commercial property, loose handrail or step, falling debris from a building, assault in a casino or ceiling collapse in an apartment contact the lawyers at Keith Zaid Law for a free legal analysis of your case.