The Duties of Owners and Managers of Property
Under the rules of premises liability, as set forth in New Jersey law, the owner of, or person with control over, real property must maintain the premises in a way that minimizes the likelihood of injury to visitors. That duty extends to sidewalks, steps, driveways, parking lots, and other thoroughfares. With winter just around the corner, it’s important to understand the responsibilities of property owners regarding the presence of snowy or icy conditions. What must be done to reduce the risk of injury due to accumulations of ice or snow?
Recovering Damages for a Slip, Trip or Fall Due to Winter Weather Conditions
To successfully pursue compensation after a fall on ice or snow in New Jersey, an injured person must prove that the property owner:
- Was legally required under New Jersey law either to clear away the snow or ice or provide reasonable warning to visitors;
- Had actual knowledge of the risk of injury posed by the accumulation of snow or ice, and failed to take any action; or
- Reasonably should have known of the existence of the dangerous condition due to the accumulation of snow and ice but did not act.
The Duties of Commercial Property Owners
The owner or manager of commercial premises has an affirmative duty to remove ice and snow, provided there is either actual or “constructive” knowledge of the danger posed by the conditions. Constructive knowledge simply means that a reasonable person would have concluded that such a risk existed. In New Jersey, if the court determines that a reasonable person would have foreseen the danger, then actual or constructive knowledge is no longer required. For example, if a specific section of a sidewalk had previously been susceptible to accumulation of snow or ice, a business owner or property manager should reasonably expect (foresee) that it will happen again.
The Duties of Residential Property Owners
As a general rule, a residential property owner has no affirmative duty to remove snow or ice from sidewalks or other structures or warn visitors of potential dangers. In fact, a residential property owner can be liable for injuries only if he or she takes action to make the conditions worse.
Contact Attorney Gregg A. Wisotsky—Partner at Javerbaum Wurgaft Hicks Kahn Wikstrom & Sinins, P.C.
I offer a free phone consultation to every prospective client. For a complimentary evaluation of your case, contact my office online, or call me at 973-241-7468. I will come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary. All major credit cards are accepted.