“Frozen Steps” by Andrew Watson is licensed under CC BY 2.0
If you slipped and fell on someone else’s property, do you have a right to file a slip and fall lawsuit for compensation? Does the property owner have a duty to make the property safe for you? These two questions are intimately related, because your right to file a lawsuit is limited by the property owner’s duty to make their property safe for you. In New Jersey, a landowner’s obligation to you depends on the level of permission you had to be on their property.
If you are an adult trespasser on property in New Jersey, the law says a property owner has no duty to you other than to make sure they are not deliberately setting up conditions that will lead to serious harm to you, such as by setting booby traps.
Because children have less judgment than adults, property owners must take more care to protect them from injury. For example, if you have what is termed an attractive nuisance, something that is likely to draw kids to your yard but may result in injury to them, you have to take reasonable steps to keep kids out or prevent injury. Common examples of attractive nuisances are swimming pools, derelict cars, and old refrigerators.
Licensees are people who are not explicitly invited to your property in a legal sense, but are tolerated. These include solicitors, repairmen, and mailmen. It also includes social guests. For these people, you have to take reasonable care to remove hazards or warn about hazards that may be hard to see.
Invitees in the legal sense are people who are invited to a property for the purposes of business. Property owners are expected to be in the highest state of vigilance for the safety of invitees, and if they know about a hazard or reasonably should have known about a hazard, they have a duty to remove it or warn about it.
When a Property Owner Violates Their Duty
If a property owner doesn’t live up to their duty, and, as a result, you suffer a slip and fall injury, you may be able to get compensation with a premises liability lawsuit. Your legal options depend heavily on the circumstances, and on how much evidence can be gathered from the scene and from witnesses, so it’s best not to wait in filing your lawsuit.
To learn more about your legal options in New Jersey, please contact Andres & Berger in Haddonfield today.