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Slip-and-Falls in New Jersey Winters

The Duties of Property Owners to Respond to Snow and Ice

Slip-and-Falls in New Jersey WintersWith record snowfalls reported in some parts of New Jersey this week, conditions have been treacherous for motorists and pedestrians. Even a small accumulation of snow, if not cleared in a timely manner, can pose a risk of injury, quickly turning to ice as temperatures rise or people pack it down.

If you’re injured in a slip-and-fall on accumulated snow or ice on someone else’s property, you may have questions about your right to recover for your losses. Let’s look at the duties of New Jersey residential and commercial property owners with respect to dangers presented by snowy and icy conditions

New Jersey Premises Liability Law

In New Jersey, as in other states, property owners have a duty to take reasonable measures to ensure the safety of anyone legally on the property; however, that duty is not absolute. A property owner need not guarantee the safety of visitors. The law requires only that an owner takes reasonable steps to protect people who come on the property. Such reasonable steps might involve removing the conditions that pose the risk of injury, or it may involve either reasonably warning visitors of potential dangers or preventing visitors from obtaining access to those areas that pose the risk of injury.

The Duties of Property Owners in New Jersey Related to Snow and Ice

The duties of a property owner differ in New Jersey based on whether the property is primarily commercial or residential. Commercial property owners have a higher duty than residential property holders. Owners of commercial property must take reasonable action to remedy the situation—either remove the snow or put down salt or sand to minimize the risk that someone will slip on icy pavement or steps.

In contrast, a residential property owner need not remove the snow and ice. If the residential property owner does attempt to clear sidewalks or other walkways, however, he must not make the condition more dangerous by doing so, or he will incur liability.

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