Newark Premises Liability Attorney
If you were hurt in a store or mall, a rental property, or even in a neighbor’s house in Newark, you may pursue legal action to recover compensation. Injuries or other damage sustained on property owned by someone else falls under premises liability law.
Simply put, Newark property owners are responsible for maintaining their property in a safe condition. If they do not, and your injuries stem from their negligence, you may have a premises liability claim. Premises liability is a subcategory of personal injury law.
New Jersey premises liability law is complicated, however.
“If you think you may have a claim, contact the experienced Newark premises liability attorneys at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP. We will discuss your case at no cost to you.
Jacoby & Meyers, LLP Newark personal injury attorneys have a long and extensive record of obtaining justice in premises liability cases. Recently, for example, we obtained a $4.2 million settlement for a two-year-old who suffered burns all over her body when an improperly secured stove fell on her. She was burned by the gas flames and water boiling on the stove. The building owners bore responsibility for this terrible accident.
Who Is at Fault for Injuries Under Premises Liability Law?
In premises liability law generally, the question of who is at fault for injuries rests on the concept of negligence. Property owners owe a duty of care to the public, to keep their premises safe at all times. If the premises are not safe, the unsafe conditions must be repaired within a reasonable time period. Before the issue is repaired, the owner must post clear warnings about the unsafe condition.
If someone breaks a glass container in a store, for instance, and glass shards are lying around, the property owners must place safety cones, barriers, or other safeguards around the area, clearly designed to warn the public about a potential danger. Then, they must clean up the potentially unsafe area.
Property owners who don’t keep their premises safe, warn the public about unsafe conditions, and then correct those conditions have breached the duty of care. They are arguably negligent as a result. Their actions (or failure to take proper action), caused an injury that would otherwise not have occurred. Negligent parties are liable, or financially responsible, for injuries caused specifically by their negligence.
Does Premises Liability Law Apply to Every Property?
In general, premises liability law applies to every property open to the public. The law is more complicated when it comes to how it applies to private property owners.
In New Jersey, the guest’s status on the property determines what kind of responsibility the property owner bears in the case of an accident. There are three categories of guests under New Jersey law: invitees, licensees, and trespassers.
Invitees in New Jersey
Invitees are on a property by implied or express consent, usually for a business purpose. Shoppers in a store, for example, are invitees, because stores are understood as implicitly open to attract shoppers for a business purpose. Renters in a building are also invitees because a rental building exists for the express purpose of providing a service to renters. Hotel guests, mall shoppers, theater- and concert-goers, and users of ice rinks and gyms are all examples of invitees, because the business purpose of each establishment is to attract users of the establishment’s goods or services.
Property owners who attract invitees must take every care to maintain the safety of their premises, and to rectify any unsafe conditions. They must also periodically inspect their property to discover any potentially unsafe conditions and rectify those conditions.
Licensees in New Jersey
Licensees are parties a property owner permits to come on their property. Social guests, like visiting friends, family, or neighbors, are licensees. So are repair people who might enter the property to repair or install something.
Property owners in New Jersey owe a duty of care to licensees to keep their premises safe. If property owners know about any condition on their property that is unsafe, for example, they must warn licensees, especially if the licensees are unlikely to notice it.
Property owners do not, however, need to inspect their property for latent hazards that they might not know about and which might do harm to licensees.
Trespassers in New Jersey
As the term implies, a trespasser on a property is someone who is neither invited nor wanted on the property. A person who walks through a neighbor’s property without the neighbor’s knowledge or consent, for example, is arguably a trespasser. So is someone who breaks into a business after hours. Property owners don’t know the trespasser is coming, and may specifically not want them.
While property owners still owe trespassers a duty of care, it is not the same standard as it is for the other two categories. In general, property owners cannot knowingly do trespassers harm (threatening trespassers by throwing bricks at them, for example).
How Are People Injured in Premises Liability Cases?
Premises liability injuries can harm people in all types of ways, simply because accidents or harmful conditions vary.
Business invitees in a store, for example, can slip and fall due to spilled liquid. Improperly stacked cartons or crates can fall and strike a patron. Patrons can slip and fall on icy sidewalks (property owners are responsible for maintaining public access to their premises as well). Elevator doors can trap people due to a malfunction.
Guests in hotels can trip and fall on improperly tacked carpets. Casino guests can receive burns from exploding pyrotechnics in a floor show. Escalators can malfunction and cause injury.
Renters can suffer electrocution from faulty wiring, trip and fall on unrepaired stairs, or suffer harm from improperly installed furnishings, appliances, and fixtures.
Licensees may suffer harm by slipping and falling, as well. Children or adults who can’t swim can drown in a swimming pool with inadequate security.
Negligent installation of items can cause injury to licensees. If an owner has installed a trampoline improperly, for example, it may cause injury. Visitors may not see croquet wickets installed in a lawn, and can trip over them and break a leg as a result.
What Type Of Injuries Occur In Premises Liability Cases?
Because of the wide variety of injuries and damage possible in premises liability cases, victims may suffer injury in many different ways, including:
- Soft tissue injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Organ injuries
- Nerve injuries
What Are Some Types of Premises Liability Cases That We Handle?
Slip and Fall
Premises liability cases in which a victim slips and falls due to conditions outside their control are often known as slip and fall accidents. This is something of a colloquial term due to the frequency of these accidents. Premises liability law applies to these cases.
Slip and falls can occur as a result of improperly cleared liquid spills, ice, or snow, or water tracked in by patrons as a result of inclement conditions. Business establishment owners should keep umbrella stands or similar items near doors so that patrons do not bring dripping umbrellas into the store. Their duty of care also includes mopping up or otherwise cleaning up water or spilled liquid.
While injuries related to swimming pools fall under premises liability law, there are specific laws in New Jersey related to making swimming pool areas safe.
First, children should never have the ability to access a pool while unsupervised.
Second, the New Jersey Uniform Construction Code requires that a property owner install a fence (a minimum of four feet high) to enclose a residential swimming pool. They must also be a maximum of two inches off the ground. The gates must self-close and self-lock. The latches to the gate cannot be accessible by small children. Gates need to swing out (away from the pool area) only. Finally, if there are openings in the fence, they cannot exceed specific dimensions.
Posted signs should warn users not to dive into shallow water.
Property owners must maintain all swimming pools and related items, such as ladders, diving boards, and so forth, and repair any issues.
Public swimming pools in Newark must provide lifeguards and proper supervision as part of their duty of care.
Property owners owe a duty of care to invitees in New Jersey to provide reasonable security and safety. If they breach that duty of care, they may bear responsibility and thus liability for injuries and damages an invitee suffers as a result. If you are physically attacked in a dark parking garage, for example, the owner may bear responsibility and liability for your injuries. (The attack itself is a crime that police and prosecutors would handle, while our premises liability lawyers could represent you in the civil claim against the property owners or managers.)
Negligent security can include:
- Failure to hire security guards.
- Inadequate safeguards.
- Locks or security systems that don’t work properly.
- Compromised locks or security systems.
- Failure to maintain adequate lighting in dark areas (garages, stairwells, corridors, corners) where people can suffer harm.
If you are on a property either as a licensee or an invitee and a dog bites you, the dog’s owner is liable. In many states, the owner is liable only if the owner knew the dog had bitten or attacked someone previously. New Jersey’s dog bite law, by contrast, is a strict liability law. If a dog bites you and you are legally on the property, the owner is liable for your injuries, without regard to the dog’s previous behavior.
What Damages Can I Receive in a Newark Premises Liability Case?
People injured in a premises liability case are entitled to compensation for their injuries, based on the following categories:
- Medical expenses – This can include costs for doctor’s visits, hospitalization, surgery, X-rays and other diagnostic tests, urgent care, ambulances, prescription medication, physical therapy, and more.
- Wages lost from work – If the injuries cause you to lose time at work, the wages you could otherwise have earned are compensable.
- Pain and suffering – This can include compensation for the pain and other intangible losses you suffered as a result of your injuries, including mental anguish.
If doctors expect you to need medical treatment for your injuries in the future and to lose additional time from work, you may recover compensation for these future expenses, as well.
Can the Property Owners Try to Get out of Compensating Me for Damages?
In any premises liability legal case, there are two sides, the plaintiff (the injured party) and the defendant (the person accused of negligence). Whether you bring a case to the plaintiff’s insurance company or to court, they can try to defend themselves and not compensate you justly.
First, they can claim that they did not know the condition on the property could cause injury or harm. Negligence law holds, however, that premises need preventive maintenance and repair. It also holds that the standard is not what the individual defendant actually did or knew, but rather what the average reasonable person would do or know.
In other words, a landlord may try to say that they didn’t know about a dangerous staircase in a rental building, even if every renter in the building knew about it. If the average reasonable person knew it or should have known it, however, the law holds that the individual landlord should have known it. Public property owners that welcome invitees onto their property are expected to inspect their property regularly, to ensure that they discover potentially dangerous conditions.
Second, they can claim they didn’t have time to fix or rectify the dangerous condition. Here, too, the law uses a reasonable person standard. If a reasonable person would have had time to discover or repair it, the law states that the property owner is held to that standard.
Time, though, is sometimes a complicating factor. What if store patrons bring in wet umbrellas after a thunderstorm, and store employees genuinely don’t have time to put up safety barriers and mop up the water before a patron slips and falls? Any dangerous condition requires swift action, but property owners can try to argue that they were in the midst of fixing it or didn’t have time to fix it between whatever caused the dangerous condition and your injury.
Employees in business establishments should receive training that alerts them to the necessity of rectifying any dangerous conditions as rapidly as possible, and to the necessity of performing inspections and maintenance. A business owner cannot claim untrained or improperly trained employees as a defense.
Third, they can claim you are at fault for your injuries. Business owners can say that dangerous condition was clearly marked. They can say you jostled cases or displays and caused them to fall on you. A homeowner can claim that they warned you about potentially dangerous areas.
You need to provide evidence to counter these arguments. When you are harmed on someone else’s premises, take pictures of the area if you have a smartphone with you. A picture is worth 1,000 words if it clearly shows a dangerous condition. Talk to eyewitnesses if any are there. Take pictures of your injuries, as well. See a doctor as soon as possible. Keep all medical records related to the accident and your injuries.
If you are injured in a business establishment, always report it to the manager. Why? Because a failure to report may seem to a jury, or opposing counsel may argue, that it’s evidence you weren’t injured seriously.
Finally, call our Newark premises liability attorneys for help with all of the above. We can present your case in a way that ensures the defendants take your claim seriously.
How Much Does a Premises Liability Lawyer Cost?
If you’re injured in a premises liability case in New Jersey, contact Jacoby & Meyers, LLP as soon as possible. Your initial consultation to discuss the case, the circumstances in which it occurred, and your injuries, is always free. We will advise you about your case at that point.
We work on a contingency basis. This means our fees are taken out of any settlement you receive. If we cannot bring your case to a successful resolution, you will owe us nothing.
Call Our Newark Premises Liability Lawyers Now
If you suffered an injury on someone else’s property in Newark and are struggling to pay the medical bills that resulted, we can help. The Newark premises liability lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, are standing by to listen to your story and see what we can do to help you recover the compensation you need to move on with your life.
Please call us now at our Neward office at (973) 643-2707, write to us using our online contact page, or feel free to start a live chat with one of our representatives. We look forward to hearing from you.
50 Park Place, Suite 1101
Newark, NJ 07102
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