Premises liability establishes your responsibility as a property owner if anyone is injured on your land. Generally, if someone is injured on your property they must be able to show that you were negligent or that you should have known your property was not safe.
If someone is injured on your property they must prove that you knew, or should have known, about the unsafe conditions and failed to act. However, depending on the status of the visitor, you may not be responsible for their injuries.
How is visitor status determined?
Some states hold you responsible for any injuries that occurred on your property, regardless of the visitor’s relationship to you. Other states, including New Jersey, limit your responsibility based on the visitor’s status. New Jersey has three visitor status categories, including:
- Invitees: If you have permitted someone to enter your home, they will fall into this category. You have a legal duty to maintain a safe environment if you invite someone on your property
- Licensees: Licensees also have your permission to be on your property, though they are usually entering your property for a job such as a landscaper. You have less liability with a licensee on your property, but you may want to notify them of any unsafe areas to avoid a potential injury.
- Trespassers: If somebody enters your property without your knowledge or permission, you generally will not be held liable for their injuries.
The status of a visitor is crucial to determining liability. In New Jersey, if you cannot prove visitor’s status, the court will apply a balancing test to establish liability.
Defining the visitor’s status can be complicated. The laws differ from state to state and some guests may not fit in one category. You might want to speak with a New Jersey premises liability lawyer if someone was injured on your property.