Premises liability applies if we are injured due to a property owner’s failure to take care of their property. Examples of the types of cases that fall within this area of law include slip and fall cases and dog bite cases. Premises liability is an important area of the law because it gives the victim a way to hold the property owner responsible if they did not take care of their property and this neglect led to their injury.
Although premises liability can provide a victim with the legal means to get the funds needed to cover the expenses resulting from injury in these types of cases, it is important to know that how the victim got onto the property can impact the case.
Why does how I got onto the property matter for these cases?
When it comes to application of premises liability laws the expectation for safety varies depending on how the victim entered the property. Did the victim sneak in to try out a spot that looked great for sledding and crash into a tree? Odds are high the court would consider the victim in this situation a trespasser and may not agree with their case.
This means the victim may not be able to hold the property owner accountable.
If, however, the property owner invites the victim onto the property there is a higher expectation — one the courts refer to as the duty of care. This can happen either when a social guest or a customer. In these cases, the law generally expects the property owner take more care to ensure the safety of their guests than a trespasser.
In the same scenario, there is likely an expectation the property owner provide a safe route or warn against sledding.
But, continuing with the winter theme, what if the victim slips on ice? In addition to the victim’s role as a guest or trespasser, the property owners’ role also impacts available legal remedies. In New Jersey, the state expects commercial property owners remove ice and snow. The expectations get a little more complicated when it comes to residential property owners and snow and ice removal.
The role of the victim and property owner are just two of the factors to review when building a premises liability case. An attorney who specializes in this area of law can review these and additional factors of a victim’s case and explain potential legal remedies.