FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2012-05-10
According to a report published recently in the medical journal Pediatrics, a child under the age of five is taken to the emergency room after falling down the stairs an average of once every six minutes in the United States. Infants age 12 months and younger faced the highest risk, accounting for nearly one-third of the injuries.
The problem is due in part to the fact that many stairways are not designed with child safety in mind, according to one author of the study. In addition, many serious accidents occur when adults fall on the stairs while carrying a child, greatly increasing the chances of hospitalization.
Premises Liability for Injuries in New Jersey
While many stair injuries occur in the home, others happen in places like day care centers, public spaces and at the homes of others. Under a legal theory known as premises liability, property owners and occupants in New Jersey have a legal responsibility to keep their premises safe for visitors, and may be held liable for injuries that occur if they fail to uphold that responsibility.
The extent of the landowner’s duty to protect visitors from harm depends largely on the circumstances. Commercial properties like stores, malls and restaurants generally owe the highest duty of care to visitors and can be held liable for injuries caused not only by known dangers, but also by dangers that the property owner could have discovered upon reasonable inspection of the property.
In contrast, owners and occupiers of residential property generally have no duty to inspect their property and are liable only for injuries that result from known hazards. If a homeowner knows about any hidden dangers on the property, such as a rotten step or loose railing, he or she must warn visitors about them.
While landowners generally have a very low duty of care to adult trespassers, in certain cases they can be held liable for injuries to child trespassers. For instance, if a young child is injured by falling into a neighbor’s pool when it is not properly secured, the neighbor may be liable for the child’s injuries.
If your child has been hurt in an accident outside the home, you may be able to receive compensation for the injuries, medical expenses and rehabilitative costs resulting from the accident. For more information about seeking compensation after an injury in New Jersey, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer.