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Commercial property owners are required to take certain steps to protect their customers, patrons and guests from injuries and hazards. One of the most important ways in which businesses protect themselves against liability for accidents and injuries that occur on their property is through insurance policies. Both premises liability and general liability policies are designed to provide financial protection for businesses. Here are some important facts about each of these types of commercial property insurance.

What Is Premises Liability?

Premises liability insurance is specific to the location in which a business is operated and offers financial protection against liability for injuries or accidents that occur on the premises and that are the result of a dangerous condition that is present on the property. When accidents occur on public property, the resulting claims are covered under the New Jersey Tort Claims Act. For private property owners, however, premises liability insurance policies are needed to prevent potential financial losses.

To prove liability, an experienced personal injury defense attorney will typically have to demonstrate the following elements:

• The presence of dangerous or hazardous conditions on the property
• A reasonable expectation that the condition could potentially cause injury
• Knowledge on the part of the owner of the existence of the dangerous condition
• A failure to address or to remediate the situation in a timely way
• An actual injury or quantifiable harm incurred by the plaintiff as a result of the negligence or oversight of the property owner

Commercial property owners owe a higher duty of care to certain people than to others. For instance, a customer is owed greater care and consideration than a trespasser or intruder. When accidents do occur, working with a New Jersey premises liability attorney can help business owners protect themselves against these types of legal actions.

What Is General Liability

The elements of general liability differ somewhat from those of premises liability and comprise four elements that are required for a plaintiff to seek monetary damages from the defendant:

• The business or property owner must have owed a duty of care to the plaintiff. This may include the duty to drive safely and within the law, the duty not to create a hazardous situation or the duty to resolve dangerous conditions in a timely way.

• The level of conduct demonstrated by the defendant must constitute a breach of legal duty.

• Causation must also be shown between the actions of the defendant and the injuries or losses sustained by the plaintiff in these cases.

• Quantifiable harm must be proven as a result of the action or inaction of the plaintiff in these types of cases.

What Is the Difference Between Premises Liability and General Liability in NJ?

While premises liability and general liability do overlap, premises liability specifically covers the location of your business and any hazards that may be present or may develop in that physical area. Slip-and-fall accidents, trips over loose tiles or carpeting or a fall caused by a missing or improperly attached railing are examples of premises liability issues that might require the assistance of a New Jersey premises liability lawyer.

General liability, on the other hand, covers a range of activities that could potentially cause injury. A general liability insurance policy might cover a wide range of things that may or may not take place on your property, including auto accidents, intellectual property rights infringements and damages to property or persons caused by your business enterprise.

In some cases, an experienced personal injury attorney could file suits against both general and liability insurance policies for the same incident. This could result in significant increases in premiums for both these types of policies. Enlisting the help of a qualified New Jersey premises liability and general liability attorney is often the best move to protect yourself and your company against these types of legal actions.


Andre F. Hewitt is a partner at the Di Lauri & Hewitt Law Group. Mr. Hewitt is experienced in all aspects of litigation. He devotes a substantial amount of his practice to handling high exposure cases ranging from Complex Commercial Litigation, Complex Commercial Auto/Trucking Litigation, Coverage Litigation, Complex Personal Auto Litigation, Personal Auto, Products Liability Litigation and Subrogation.
Robert J. Di Lauri is the founder of the Di Lauri & Hewitt Law Group.  While Mr. Di Lauri is experienced in all aspects of litigation, he devotes a substantial amount of his practice to personal injury/insurance defense, commercial litigation, employment litigation, contract disputes and criminal law/municipal court matters.

Di Lauri & Hewitt Law Group

55 Madison Ave, Suite 400
Morristown, NJ 07960
Tel: (973) 285-3220