Lieberman, Ryan & Forrest, L.L.C.
Somerset County
Hunterdon County

Who is at fault if I get injured on private property?

If someone gets injured, there are a few things that need to be taken under consideration before determining who is at fault in the accident. Each situation is different - the relationship between the accident victim and the property owner, the condition that led to the accident and injury, and even the knowledge and actions or inactions of those responsible all will play a role in determining responsibility.

It is not always a black and white decision. In fact, some responsibility is also expected by the person who is on someone else's property. Just because an injury occurs does not automatically mean that the victim is entitled to money or that the property owner is necessarily at fault.

The courts will look at what circumstances led to the victim's presence on the land. For example, a shopper in a department or grocery store is different from a friend visiting someone's private home, which is in turn different from a burglar on someone's property without their permission.

It must also be determined how much the property owner knew about the hazard and whether the hazardous conditions were properly addressed or if they were known but ignored. Trespassers are interesting in that if property owners know that there is a likelihood of trespassers on the property, they must still give a reasonable warning to avoid injury.

Lastly, there are also instances of comparative fault where neither side is 100 percent to blame and fault may be split to lessen the total amount of damages owed to the victim. As you can see, premises liability is not always black and white and cut and dried. It might be wise to speak with a law professional to see what options are available to avoid disappointment or an unfavorable outcome if you try to handle a suit in the courts alone.

Source: FindLaw, "Premises Liability: Who is Responsible?" accessed March 14, 2017

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