According to investigators, the two friends, one 9-year-old and a 13-year-old, were playing on the balcony while adults visited inside the home. And then, for an unknown reason, the balcony railing gave way. Both boys fell and suffered serious injuries. At the hospital, the 9-year-old died.
What could have been done? Was this a tragic accident, or could the breaking of the guardrail have been a foreseeable risk?
Explaining Premises Liability Laws in New Jersey
Broken railings on balconies, staircases and other areas can lead to fall-related catastrophic or even fatal injuries. Sometimes, these accidents are simply that, but in other cases, victims may be able to file a lawsuit against the owner of the guardrail.
For a property owner to be legally responsible for a slip-and-fall related to a broken guardrail:
- The property owner must have caused the damage to the railing that led to it breaking, or
- The owner must have known about the broken or damaged railing and failed to repair it, or
- The owner neglected to notice the damage despite the fact that a reasonable person would have during maintenance, cleaning or use
In such cases, courts will also look at the victim’s contribution toward the accident. Under the comparative negligence doctrine, plaintiffs may recover damages if the victim’s negligence is less than that of the defendant. These damages will be diminished by the plaintiff’s degree of fault.
If you have been injured on another party’s property and you believe that the cause of your injuries could have been reasonably foreseen and corrected, our Middlesex County premises liability attorneys can help you see the recovery you are entitled to.