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When you’re injured on someone else’s property

On Behalf of | Apr 1, 2024 | (client-fulfilled) Slip-and-fall

If you are at a retail store or someone else’s business, and you are injured due to a hazardous condition, who is responsible? Can you hold the property owner liable for your damages?

These are the types of questions behind an area of personal injury law known as premises liability. In this blog post, we’ll provide an introduction to the topic, but be warned that premises liability can be complex, and the outcome of any one premises liability case can depend on its exact circumstances.

Premises liability and negligence

Premises liability stems from the principle of negligence, under which we all have a duty to others to minimize the risk of a foreseeable accident that might injure them. The extent of that duty can depend on our role in any situation, but generally we have the duty to act as a reasonable person would under similar circumstances. If we fail in these duties, and that failure causes an accident in which someone else is injured, we can be held liable for their damages.

For example, in a personal injury lawsuit based on a car accident, the court asks if the driver acted as a reasonable driver would under similar circumstances to avoid an accident. If not — if the driver was speeding, for example —  the court finds that the driver was negligent. If this negligence caused an accident that injured someone else, the injured person can hold the negligent driver liable for their medical expenses, lost wages and other damages.

Premises liability works on a similar principle. The law assumes that property owners have a duty to address safety hazards so that visitors to their property are not injured in a foreseeable accident. If they breach this duty, and someone is injured as a result, the injured party may hold the owner liable for their damages. But, as we noted above, the issues can get complicated quickly. One of the complicating factors is the status of the visitor.

Social guests and invitees

New Jersey law recognizes that a property owner’s duty of care is stronger for some visitors than it is for others.

For example, a home owner who invites a social guest to dinner on their patio may have a duty only to warn the guest of a loose step. A store owner’s duty to their customers would be somewhat stronger. If there was a loose step inside a retail store where customers might slip and fall, a reasonable store owner would take steps to repair the step as soon as possible.

Your case

In this blog post, we have touched on just some of the complications involved in premises liability cases. If you have been injured while on another person’s property, it would be wise to discuss the exact details of your accident with someone who has knowledge and experience in premises liability.


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