Contact Us for a Consultation 908-962-9929

Premises Liability Lawyer in New Jersey: Understanding Defective Conditions on a Property

Properties must be maintained for safety. The levels of safety vary as it depends on who the property owner or lessee is and who the injured party is. When defective conditions cause an accident and someone is injured, there's a good chance the injured party can recover compensation

What Constitutes Defective Property Conditions in New Jersey

Property owners must maintain their premises in a way that permits safe use and prevents defective or dangerous property conditions. If property owners fail to meet their duty of care to individuals on their property, they could face liability for accidents and damages from unsafe conditions.

Under the theory of premises liability, the cause of the accident and the classification of the individual on the property are typically the crucial factors. If a person is a visitor, such as a guest or customer, they are often afforded increased protections as compared to a trespasser, who is not permitted on the property.

Visitors generally enjoy the protection from defective conditions on a property that a property owner knows or should have known about. However, one potential complication in a premises liability case involves conditions that might be open and obvious to a reasonable person.

Hiring an experienced premises liability attorney from Law Office of Charles Dawkins Jr. LLC is one of the best steps you can take. Call us today at (908) 962-9929 to schedule a Consultation.

Examples of Defective New Jersey Property Conditions


When an individual visits a public or private property in New Jersey, they can reasonably expect the property to be safe for use and free from defective property conditions. If a defective property condition exists on the premises, a property owner might be subject to liability for any accidents caused by the defect.

Some of the common examples of defective property conditions that might cause injuries include:

  • Icy or slippery floors
  • Cracked or chipped flooring
  • Broken stairs
  • Loose or damaged carpet
  • Broken or missing railings
  • Uneven sidewalks
  • Poor lighting conditions
  • Defective equipment
  • rotten and soiled food in the aisle

Generally, a premises liability claim could be filed for injuries from any number of defective property conditions. However, it is important to remember that the injured party must establish that the property owner knew or should have known about a defective property condition and did nothing to correct the condition. This knowledge of the defective condition is often referred to as actual or constructive notice of the defective or dangerous condition.

Open and Obvious Defects and Comparative Negligence in New Jersey

Although a property owner owes a duty to make premises reasonably safe for use by individuals, said duty is not absolute. One of the commonly used defenses in a premises liability case is that the defective property condition that caused an injury was open and obvious.

An open and obvious defect is one that an average person would discover on the property with normal or casual inspection of the property. This generally means that the defect would have been easily discovered by a reasonable person in the same circumstances.

It is important to note that the open and obvious doctrine is not an all-or-nothing defense. This means the defense could be raised to limit an injured person's recovery in states that follow comparative negligence laws, which take into account a plaintiff's own negligence in awarding compensation.


New Jersey "Mode-of-Operation Doctrine" may apply to premise liability cases.  The mode of operation doctrine is not strict liability but a rebuttable inference of negligence.  Mode-of-Operation Doctrine applies in the "self-service" setting in which customers independently handle merchandise without the assistance of employees or may come into direct contact with product displays shelving, packaging, and other aspects of the facility that may present a risk. Prioleau v. Kentucky Fried Chicken Inc818 A.2d 314,316 (2003)

There must be a nexus between the self-service aspects of Defendant's business and the plaintiff's injury.  This is unique to the State of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the Virgin Islands do not have this doctrine at the time of writing this website.

Cases involving premises liability often require the assistance of an attorney due  to the knowledge and experience needed to present a successful claim.

For instance, a claim could first be sent to the insurance provider of the property owner to avoid going through the court process. However, this requires immediate fact-gathering and the ability to present a valid argument to the insurance company.

Additionally, there are many laws and court rules that must be followed if a case proceeds through a court and to a trial. Don't try to file a premise liability lawsuit on your own–the attorneys at Law Office of Charles Dawkins Jr. LLC are here to assist you and fight for the outcome you deserve. Fill out our online contact form or call us at (908) 962-9929 to schedule a Consultation.

Also Serving Elizabeth, Newark, Plainfield, Woodbridge & All Of New Jersey!

The Law Firm represents clients in all New Jersey Counties and municipalities including the following counties: Union County, Essex County, Middlesex County, Hudson County, Mercer County, and Camden County.

Elizabeth Office
1139 E. Jersey St., Suite 317
Elizabeth, NJ 07201