The Duties of Property Owners to Minimize the Risk of Premises Liability Injuries
It’s winter in New Jersey and that means snow and often ice, as well. It’s not uncommon for some parts of the state to get almost 10 inches in a single snowfall, and as much as four feet of snow over the winter. Fluctuating temperatures can cause melting and a hard freeze, making conditions particularly dangerous. Property owners should reasonably expect snow and ice, and should take reasonable measures to minimize the risk of injury.
The Duties of Property Owners in New Jersey Winters
The state of New Jersey still follows the traditional common law with respect to a property owner’s duty to persons visiting the premises. The degree of care owed varies, based on the “status” of the visitor. A visitor may generally be considered:
- An invitee—Also commonly referred to as a “business invitee,” this person is legally on the premises for the benefit of the property owner. A customer seeking to purchase goods or services from the owner would be considered a business invitee. The property owner must take “reasonable” steps to monitor and inspect the premises for unsafe conditions, and must either repair any hazards or provide reasonable notice/warning of dangers.
- A licensee—A licensee is a person who is on property either legally or with permission, but is there for his or her own benefit, rather than the benefit of the property owner. A property owner has no duty to inspect the premises to discover potential hazards, but must either remedy or warn of any dangerous conditions known to the owner.
- A trespasser—A person who is on the property without legal right or permission is considered to be a trespasser. A residential or commercial property owner owes no duty to a trespasser other than the obligation not to intentionally or reckless cause injury.
Under current New Jersey law, commercial property owners must take reasonable measures to keep their premises safe during snowy or icy weather. That may require the removal of snow, the use of salt/deicers, the application of sand or other substances to improve footing or even the acquisition of snow removal equipment or the use of a snow removal service.
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At the Lee Law Firm, we have extensive knowledge and experience successfully handling personal injury claims. We take all personal injury cases on a contingency basis—you won’t pay any attorney fees unless we recover compensation for your losses.
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