When it Looks Like a Tenant is Liable for Slip and Fall on Commercial Property
More than likely, it’s one of the last things you’re thinking about it. Despite the less than ideal spring temperatures, you’re not exactly concerned about the prospect of a premises liability accident involving snow and/or ice. However, an interesting issue was just decided by the New Jersey Appellate Division. Who’s liable if you slip and fall on commercial property?
The title of our article may actually be a bit of a spoiler. Understandably, your first inclination may be to place the blame on the property owner. After all, they own the premises – shouldn’t they assume responsibility for ensuring walkways, driveways, and parking lots are free of hazardous conditions?
All things considered, it makes sense to think that landlords are liable for keeping their property safe. For certain, this is true for select conditions. For example, if the sidewalk is cracked or uneven – the landlord may be held responsible. Although, the local municipality could be liable if the cracks are due to tree roots pushing up a public sidewalk and resulting in a dangerous condition. In that case, the public entity may be deemed liable if you slip and fall and are injured.
Of course, there is also the issue of ensuring that driveways and parking lots are adequately maintained and safe. Once again, you may believe it’s up to the landlord to assume complete responsibility. After all, shouldn’t owners have a vested interest in all aspects of their property?
The answers may be unexpected. The landlord may not be responsible. In fact, tenants may be found liable for accidents on commercial property. How is this even possible if they have no ownership rights? Consider the facts of this very recent legal opinion.
Landlord Not Liable for Commercial Property Accident
The accident that is the subject of Caldas v. Janard Management Services actually took place in nearby Bergen County. The New Jersey Appellate Division’s ruling is unpublished – meaning it only applies to the parties named in the lawsuit.
Juan G. Caldas was injured at work when he slipped on ice at his job. Although the court’s opinion does not mention it, he most likely was entitled to benefits from the workers’ compensation carrier. Juan’s employer was a tenant of Janard Management Services. When the business first entered into the lease agreement, they were Rudox Engine & Eq. Co. Before Juan’s fall, the company merged with Ener-G Rudo.
Cutting to the chase, the lease agreement might suggest that the landlord is responsible for injuries on the property. In pertinent part, it reads:
Landlord shall not be responsible for . . . injury to persons, occurring in or about the demised premises, by reason of any existing or future condition, defect, matter or thing in said demised premises . . . or for the acts, omissions or negligence of other persons or Tenants in and about the said property.
However, there was a caveat in the lease agreement. The parties also acknowledged that “the Landlord shall not be liable for any damage or injury to person or property caused by or resulting from steam, electricity, gas, water, rain, ice or snow.”
There are other issues that are particular to this case. However, the bottom line is that the language of the lease agreement was definitely a factor in determining that Janard Management Services was not liable for this accident.
Premises liability accidents require extensive investigations. An experienced personal injury attorney will look into all aspects of the claim to determine the culpable parties.
Did you slip and fall and sustain injuries? At the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone, we have extensive experience in the pursuit of premises liability claims. Let’s set up a complimentary meeting to discuss the circumstances of your accident.