In a groundbreaking decision, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a bright-line rule that all commercial property owners, including those with vacant lots, are responsible for maintaining sidewalks adjacent to their properties.

The case originated when a woman slipped and fell on a poorly maintained sidewalk in Camden, New Jersey. The sidewalk was adjacent to a vacant lot owned by two property owners. Her fall resulted in severe injuries, leading to permanent disability and affecting her ability to work. She filed a lawsuit against the property owners, claiming their negligence in maintaining the sidewalk caused her injuries.

Associate Justice Fabiana Pierre-Louis, writing for the majority, emphasized that the duty to maintain safe sidewalks should extend to all commercial property owners, regardless of whether the lot generates income. She stated, "When someone purchases a vacant commercial lot, that is a business decision that embraces all the attendant costs and burdens of conducting business. One of those costs necessarily includes maintaining the abutting sidewalks so that they are in a reasonably safe condition for innocent passersby."

The majority opinion, supported by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner and other justices, underscores the Court's commitment to ensuring public safety and fairness in commercial property ownership.

What This Means for You

This ruling has significant implications for commercial property owners in New Jersey. All commercial landowners, including those with vacant lots, must now ensure that the sidewalks adjacent to their properties are well-maintained and safe for public use. Failure to do so could result in liability for injuries sustained due to negligent sidewalk maintenance.

Contact Us Today

If you have been injured in a slip-and-fall accident due to a poorly maintained sidewalk, don’t wait. Contact us today for a free consultation. Let us help you navigate this new legal landscape and secure the compensation you deserve.

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