Supreme Court of New Jersey Imposes Duty of Safe Sidewalks for All Commercial Landowners

Jun 25, 2024

In a historic decision on June 13, 2024, the Supreme Court of New Jersey set the bright-line rule that all commercial landowners have a duty to maintain public sidewalks abutting their property in reasonably good condition. The 4-3 ruling overturned the longstanding precedent that only commercial properties that generate income would be liable to injured pedestrians for the negligent failure to maintain adjoining sidewalks. The case in question, Padilla v. Young Il An, concerned a pedestrian who suffered injuries after tripping on the sidewalk abutting a vacant commercial lot. At trial, the court held in favor of the property owners because the vacant lot zoned for commercial use did not generate revenue, which was affirmed by the Appellate Division. However, the Supreme Court reversed and reasoned that placing the duty of reasonable sidewalk upkeep on all commercial properties regardless of income potential would promote fairness and public safety.

The outcome in Padilla has far-reaching implications for every member of the New Jersey public. By imposing the duty of reasonable sidewalk maintenance for all commercial lots and holding owners liable for negligently failing to do so, injured pedestrians are no longer barred from relief depending on the profitability of the commercial property.  As it stands, any property zoned for commercial use has a duty to keep abutting sidewalks in reasonably safe conditions.

If you have been injured and have suffered significant personal injuries, please contact Paul M. da Costa, Esq. at Sarno da Costa D’Aniello Maceri LLC.  Call us today at 973 274-5200.