Legal Memorandum: Landowner's Duty to Warn of Dangerous Condition

Issue: Under New Jersey law, what is the landowner’s duty to warn in cases involving an injured child or adult?

Area of Law: Personal Injury & Negligence, Real Estate Law
Keywords: Landowner's duty; Duty to warn of a dangerous condition
Jurisdiction: New Jersey
Cited Cases: 310 A.2d 497; 138 N.J. Super. 464; 87 N.J. 467; 403 A.2d 910; 351 A.2d 389; 266 A.2d 284; 371 A.2d 815; 323 A.2d 449; 187 A.2d 357; 361 A.2d 540; 80 N.J. 391; 506 A.2d 5; 28 N.J. 527; 435 A.2d 556; 208 N.J. Super. 328; 158 N.J. Super. 368; 297 A.2d 17; 143 A.2d 521; 22 N.J. Super. 341; 145 A.2d 482; 78 N.J. Super. 8; 147 A.2d 305; 70 N.J. 525
Cited Statutes: Restatement (Second) of Torts § 342, 335, 337; N.J. Stat. §§ 2A:42A-2 to -8; N.J. Stat. §§ 2A:42A-2, -3, -7, -4(b); N.J. Stat. §§ 59:1-1 to :13-8
Date: 04/01/2001

              New Jersey follows traditional Restatement-based principles based on the entrant’s status to determine the liability of an owner or occupier to those who come upon his or her property.  In the case of an invitee, the duty owed is that of reasonable care for his safety  "care commensurate with the risk of being upon the premises or of using any of the facilities provided for his use or enjoyment."  McLaughlin v. Rova Farms, Inc., 56 N.J. 288, 266 A.2d 284, 292 (1970).  The duty owed by a landowner to licensees, including social guests, is to warn only of conditions which they know or have reason to believe their licensees could not be expected to discover and avoid.  The applicable section of the Restatement (Second) of Torts provides:

§ 342 A possessor of land is subject to liability for physical harm caused to licensees by a condition on the land if, but only if,


(a) the possessor knows or has reason to know of the condition and should realize that it involves an […]

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