In New Jersey, as in other states, owners of commercial property have a duty to reasonably monitor and maintain commercial premises in ways that minimize the risk of injury to anyone legally on the property. That duty also extends to entities that maintain control over the premises, such as commercial tenants in malls and supermarkets.
Under the law, any party that exercises control over real property must reasonably monitor the premises—the duty is not absolute. In addition, the action required need only be reasonable. There’s no requirement that the safety of legal visitors be guaranteed. However, if an owner, landlord or tenant knows (or reasonably should know) of a dangerous condition, there are three permissible responses:
- Remedy the situation so that it no longer poses a risk of injury
- Provide reasonable warning of the risk of injury associated with the dangerous or defective property condition
- Close off access to the part of the property with the dangerous or defective condition
A New Jersey Supreme Court ruling has extended potential liability beyond the borders of a defendant’s property. In a case involving Wal-Mart, the retail giant was sued by an independent contractor who fell on loose gravel on the property next to Wal-Mart, but who was under contract with Wal-Mart at the time of the accident. The worker suffered the injury on adjacent property, but was only on the adjacent property because he had to leave Wal-Mart property to do his job.
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