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Responsibilities of property owners

Property owners in New Jersey have a legal obligation to ensure that their properties are safe for the people who use them. Some responsibilities of property owners include keeping their premises free of hazards, inspecting their premises for hazards and correcting any hazards they find on the premises. The property owner owes a certain degree of responsibility to people on their property depending on whether the people are classified as invitees, licensees or trespassers.

People who have been invited to a property for business reasons are considered invitees, and property owners owe the highest level of care to people who fall under this classification. Some examples of invitees include job applicants, customers of a retail store and guests at a dining establishment. Property owners are expected to take reasonable steps to maintain the safety of their premises for invitees.

Though the level of care is not as high, property owners are also responsible for maintaining safe premises for people who are classified as licensees. Licensees are people who are using a property for their own purpose with the permission of the property owner. Property owners do not owe any level of care to people classified as trespassers as these people have entered their property without permission. The safety of trespassing children, however, is the responsibility of a property owner if the property owner kept a dangerous property that attracted children.

A person who was an invitee or a licensee on a property when they were injured may have a case for filing a premises liability claim. An attorney might be able to help someone in this situation to gather evidence proving that the injuries they suffered could have been avoided if the property owner had have taken reasonable safety precautions.

Source: Findlaw, "Property Owners' Legal Duty to Prevent Injury", November 21, 2014

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