Property Owner Negligence & Liability
When someone is injured as a result of unsafe property or building conditions, they may be entitled to financial compensation from the property owner’s insurance company. Under New Jersey premises liability laws, property owners can be held legally liable for injuries and damages stemming from poor property maintenance, hazards, and unsafe conditions when certain elements can be proved.
If you were injured on someone else’s property, and you believe the property owner may be liable, reach out to The Law Offices Of James C. DeZao, P.A. right away. Our New Jersey premises liability lawyers have more than 150 years of collective experience. We have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for our clients, and we are prepared to aggressively advocate for the maximum recovery you are owed.
What Is Premises Liability?
Premises liability is an area of personal injury law in which property owners can be held liable for damages when people are injured on their properties.
Examples of common premises liability cases include claims involving:
- Improper maintenance
- Failure to warn
- Slip and falls
- Negligent security
- Dog bites and attacks
- Unsafe property conditions
- Defective property conditions
- Building/safety code violations
- Swimming pool accidents
- Elevator/escalator accidents
- Explosions and fires
- Natural gas leaks
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
Premises liability claims can be brought against all types of property owners, including homeowners, landlords, retail businesses, and even government agencies.
It is extremely important that you work with a knowledgeable premises liability attorney, like those at The Law Offices Of James C. DeZao, P.A. These are highly complex, difficult-to-prove cases, but an attorney can evaluate the evidence, investigate your claim, establish liability, and negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf. If necessary, our attorneys are even prepared to advocate for you at trial.
Proving a Property Owner’s Liability
Proving the property owner’s liability is one of the most challenging aspects of a premises liability claim. New Jersey recognizes several different types of property visitors, and property owners owe these visitors varying duties of care.
The different types of property visitors include:
- Invitees: An invitee is someone who has the property owner’s express or implied permission to be on the property. Typically, this is someone who visits a property for the mutual benefit of both parties, such as a customer in a retail store. New Jersey property owners owe invitees the highest duty of care.
- Licensees: A licensee is someone who does not necessarily have the property owner’s express or implied permission to be on the property but is, nevertheless, on the property lawfully. An example would be someone who stops at a gas station to use the restroom but does not purchase gasoline. Property owners owe licensees a limited duty of care in New Jersey.
- Trespassers: A trespasser is someone who does not have the property owner’s express or implied permission to be on the property and is there unlawfully for their own purposes. Someone who takes a “shortcut” through private property is a trespasser. In New Jersey, property owners must only refrain from causing willful injury to trespassers.
The first step in proving the property owner’s liability is establishing that they owed you a duty of care based on your status as a visitor. This means that you were injured on the property as either an invitee or a licensee, and the circumstances of your injury fall under the property owner’s responsibility based on the duty of care owed to you.
You will also need to prove that you were injured due to unsafe or defective conditions or a hazard that could cause foreseeable injury and that the property owner knew about or reasonably should have known about yet failed to effectively remove or repair. You will also need to demonstrate that, if the property owner could not reasonably remove or repair the dangerous condition or hazard, they failed to provide adequate warning. “Adequate warning” includes proper signage, such as “wet floor” signs, and other visible warnings.
Sometimes, property owners defend against premises liability claims by arguing that the dangerous condition or hazard that caused the injury was “open and obvious,” meaning the victim could have taken reasonable measures to avoid it. Therefore, proving your case may also involve proving that you could not have taken reasonable measures to avoid the dangerous condition or hazard. Under the state’s rule of comparative negligence, if you are more than 50 percent at fault for the incident that caused your injury, you may not file a claim for compensation.
How a Premises Liability Lawyer Can Help
A serious accident on someone else’s property can leave you with devastating injuries, exorbitant medical bills, and weeks or months of missed work. You shouldn’t have to simply deal with the consequences of a property owner’s negligence on your own. However, filing a premises liability claim can be extremely complex and challenging without the help of an attorney.
When you work with our New Jersey premises liability attorneys, you allow yourself the freedom to focus on your physical recovery. Our team will handle every legal detail of your case, from investigating what happened to proving the property owner’s liability to communicating with the insurance company on your behalf. We do not settle cases for less than they are worth and, if necessary, have the experience and resources to represent you in the courtroom.
You can rely on The Law Offices Of James C. DeZao, P.A. to fight tirelessly for you, your rights, and your recovery. We do not collect any legal fees unless we recover compensation on your behalf. Your time to file a premises liability lawsuit is limited, however, so do not delay. You only have two years (in most cases) to sue the liable party for damages.
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