Premises liability law requires landlords to make their grounds reasonably safe for visitors by taking steps to discover unsafe conditions and either remove them or provide adequate warning about them. But what happens when a landlord knows a hazard exists, but does little or nothing to remediate the situation because the hazard is readily apparent? Is a landlord blameless when he relies on a visitor’s good sense to avoid a danger that is “open and obvious”? In many cases, the answer is yes, which means an injured plaintiff cannot recover damages.
Take, for example, the case of the sizzling skillet. When a customer bowed his head over the hot plate to pray before eating, grease from his steak fajita popped up and burned his face. A New Jersey appellate judge ruled the hot skillet was an “open and obvious” danger, so Applebee’s had no duty to warn the customer against lowering his face over it.
In premises liability cases where the landlord offers an “open and obvious” defense, the court must examine the facts to answer the following questions:
Premises liability cases often involve competing interpretations of numerous facts and circumstances. It is an attorney’s job to make his client’s behavior seem reasonable under the totality of the circumstances and to show how the opposing party was unreasonable. Injured plaintiffs only have to prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence, but convincing a judge or jury can still be a formidable task.
If you are injured by the unsafe condition of someone’s property in Bergen County or anywhere in New Jersey, consult an experienced attorney at Seigel Law as soon as possible. Contact us online or call 201-444-4000 today for a free case evaluation.