As much as we wish we’ve put them behind us, snow and ice can be a problem in New Jersey even in the spring. Though temperatures may rise during the day, melting snow and ice can freeze up again at night when temperatures drop. Under these conditions, it’s always wise to pay attention when you’re walking and beware of slippery conditions. If you are injured due to a slip and fall in or around a commercial building, you may have a right to seek compensation. An owner of a business premises is required by law to keep a parking lot and abutting sidewalk free from the natural accumulation of ice and snow. New Jersey law imposes on the commercial or business property owner a duty to use reasonable care to see that its property and the sidewalks abutting it are reasonably safe. Actions must be taken concerning potentially hazardous conditions within a reasonable period of time after the owner becomes aware of the dangerous condition or, while using reasonable care, should have become aware of it.
A commercial property owner may be held liable for injuries due to a slip and fall caused by snow or ice in these situations:
- There was a condition that was dangerous because it created an unreasonable risk of harm for pedestrians.
- The owner knew of the problem or should have known of it but didn’t take reasonable action to correct the situation within a reasonable period of time as a reasonably prudent commercial or business owner would have done under the circumstances.
- If the property owner claims ignorance of the condition, that won’t necessarily be a valid defense. The owner of commercial or business property has a duty to make reasonable observations of the property and abutting sidewalk to discover any dangerous conditions that might develop.
- The observations must be made as often as a reasonably prudent commercial property owner would make under the circumstances.
- If such a reasonable observation would have revealed the dangerous condition causing the slip, fall and injury, a court may decide the property owner is chargeable with constructive notice of the condition though in fact it had no such knowledge.
Depending on the language of the lease of the commercial building and the facts of the situation, the duty to make public areas safe may be on the party leasing the space, not the party who owns it. If the whole commercial property is leased, the landlord’s obligation is limited, except as to areas in which the landlord retains control.
As you can see, this area of negligence law relies upon whether judgments and actions were reasonable or not, and these are subject to interpretation. These would be issues decided at a trial if a case doesn’t settle; so if you’re injured in a slip and fall involving snow and ice, get the help of an attorney with experience in these cases who knows this area of law well and has a history of arguing cases before judges and juries.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to a slip and fall caused by snow or ice in New Jersey, call the Law Offices of James C. DeZao at (973) 358-6134 or fill out our contact form so we can talk about the accident, how the law may apply and how you may be able to collect compensation for your injuries.