Business owners in New Jersey and around the country usually purchase general liability insurance coverage to reduce their exposure to premises liability lawsuits, but they should also put procedures and policies place to reduce their chances of being sued and protect vendors, customers and others who visit their establishments. This type of legal action is generally filed against the tenants rather than the owners of commercial properties as most factory, warehouse, office or retail store leases include provisions stating that maintenance and safety are the occupier’s responsibility.
To be successful in a premises liability lawsuit, plaintiffs must establish that the defendant knew or should have known about an unsafe or potentially unsafe situation and failed to take adequate step to protect visitors. Business owners owe a duty of care to all visitors to their establishments, including, in some cases, even trespassers.
Premises liability lawsuits are often filed after visitors have suffered injuries in slip-and-fall accidents, and business owners can reduce the likelihood of this kind of litigation by regularly inspecting their facilities and having policies in place that call for spills to be cleaned up quickly. Those who run businesses in northern states like New Jersey should also have procedures in place to remove snow and ice promptly during the winter months.
Those injured in slip and fall accidents sometimes suffer serious injuries, and personal injury attorneys pursuing civil remedies on their behalf may gather evidence to counter arguments that the plaintiff was not being careful. Business owners may find it difficult to point the finger of blame at accident victims when they have a track record of safety violations or photographs of their facilities reveal lax maintenance and little or no oversight. Attorneys may also canvass the area for individuals who may have witnessed the accident or been injured themselves.