What Is a Premises Liability Claim?
A New Jersey personal injury attorney encounters a variety of cases, and one of the most common are premises liability claims. This cause of action arises when someone is injured while on someone else’s property.
A great diversity of injuries may be encompassed by premises liability law. For instance, someone might make a claim after slipping and falling in their neighbor’s driveway. Perhaps a falling tree limb struck a passerby. Maybe a tenant fell on a poorly maintained stairwell at an apartment complex. Any of these people may be entitled to make a premises liability claim against the property owner.
Essentially, when an individual legally enters someone else’s property, they are entitled to a reasonable expectation of safety. This puts responsibility on the property owner to provide a safe environment. Thus, a customer entering a store can reasonably expect that it’s safe to do so. The store owner is required to ensure that the premises are safe by maintaining the property. When the property owner fails to take basic steps to ensure the safety of legal visitors, then they may be liable in a premises liability claim.
Most of these cases are complex, and a number of factors influence whether or not a claim may be made. For instance, if the visitor was trespassing, their options for collecting may be extremely limited or non-existent. The court may also look at the foreseeability of the accident and whether or not the steps the property owner took to address a dangerous condition were reasonable.
In many premises liability claims, the owner’s liability is limited through a comparative fault argument. Comparative fault basically means that both parties were at least partially to blame for the accident. Perhaps a warehouse owner should have acted more quickly to clean up a spill, but perhaps the accident victim is also partly to blame because he was running where it was not reasonably safe to do so. In cases where comparative fault is successfully argued, the injured party is typically found to be responsible for a certain percentage of their injuries. If an injured party is found to be 25% responsible for the accident, then any damages they might receive are reduced by 25%.
Premises liability claims may be common, but they are also highly complex. Contact an experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney to determine whether or not you may make a claim against a property owner.