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Determining liability in a premises liability action

| May 5, 2021 | Personal Injury

It happens far more often that one realizes. Nearly every day, individuals in New Jersey and elsewhere will enter the property of others. Maybe it is a neighbor’s house, a grocery store, the bank, and office building or even the apartment building he or she resides in. No matter the type of property it is, the property owner owes a duty of care to a certain degree to ensure that anyone entering the property is safe from harms. Thus, if an incident or injury occurs, it is possible that liability will be placed on a property owner for failing to fulfill this duty.

Establishing responsibility

When a person is injured on the property of another’s, it is important to determine cause and liability. There are five factors that help determine liability when a premises liability action is sought. This includes the legal status of the visitor that was injured, the conditions of the property and the actions taken by both the property owner and the visitor, whether the injured party was a trespasser or a child, whether both the property owner and visitor were at fault and whether any special rules for landlords apply.

Evaluating the five factors for liability

With regards to the legal status of the visitor, this means whether or not a person was lawfully on the property at the time of the incident. This means that they were an invitee, a licensee or a social guest. When assessing the conditions of the property and actions taken, this applies that standard that the property owner exercised reasonable care for the safety of any visitor with the exception of trespassers. There are exceptions, such as the circumstances the visitor entered the property, how the property is being used, the foreseeability of the accident or injury occurring and the reasonableness of the owner to repair a dangerous condition or warn visitors of it.

While trespassers are not owed the same duty as visitors, property owners to have a duty to give reasonable warning to prevent injury when such conditions are known. With regards to children, a warning is needed in matters of attractive nuisances. If both the visitor and property owner are considered at fault, then comparative fault would likely apply. Finally, there are special rules for landlords; however, they likely only apply in situations where the landlord lacks control. If it is an area of the property they assume responsibility over, such as the outside of the property, then these rules would not apply.

What you need to do after the injury

A personal injury caused by a dangerous condition on public or private property can be a difficult event for the injured victim. Not only is one focused on getting necessary medical care, but they are also likely trying to understand what happened. A premises liability action could help better paint that picture. It not only helps a victim determine cause and liability but also assists with the recovery of compensation for losses suffered.