Trips, Slips, and Falls on New Jersey Sidewalks
When Can You Potentially Recover Damages for Your Injuries?
It’s officially spring, and many of us are excited to get outside and take in some fresh air. In addition, the current need to shelter at home has many of us out walking in order to minimize cabin fever. Unfortunately, you may discover that many of the sidewalks and other thoroughfares are in disrepair, and you might even suffer an injury as a result of broken or cracked sidewalk panels. When is a property owner liable for such injuries?
In New Jersey, as in other states, the owner of residential or commercial property has a duty to monitor and maintain the premises so as to minimize the risk of injury to anyone legally on the property. The obligation is not absolute—the property owner must take only “reasonable” steps to address what the law considers to be a dangerous condition. Courts in New Jersey have defined “dangerous condition” as one that creates a substantial risk of injury when the property is used with reasonable care and in a reasonably foreseeable manner. The courts also have held (Giordano v. Hillsdale Public Library, 2013) that pedestrians must expect some minor imperfections in walking surfaces.
New Jersey courts take a somewhat novel approach to trips, slips, and falls that occur on sidewalks, holding that commercial property owners are liable for maintaining public sidewalks in front of their property, but residential property owners will not. The ruling was first handed down in 1981 but was affirmed by the New Jersey Supreme Court as recently as 2011. As the law currently stands, a residential property owner is liable for injuries suffered as a result of a dangerous sidewalk condition only if the owner engaged in conduct that created or aggravated the dangerous condition.
Contact Attorney Howard N. Sobel
At the office of Howard N. Sobel, we work closely with people who suffer personal injury in New Jersey. Contact our office online or call us at 856-424-6400 to set up a free initial consultation (on selected cases). Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request. We accept all major credit cards.
Named a New Jersey Super Lawyer Every Year Since 2008