New Jersey Pick-Your-Own Liability
The law in New Jersey addressing premises liability and the landowner duty of care that is usually present was essentially set aside in the case of the landowner who has a "pick your own" operation. On "agricultural or horticultural land" - which is defined in the law to be "orchards, nurseries or other land devoted to the production for sale of plants, crops, trees, forest products or other related commodities," the statute changes the duty of care that would usually be owed to a business invitee. This is usually the highest duty of care and would usually require the landowner to make sure the premises are free of defects and safe for the public as a whole. For this visitor, the landowner would usually have the obligation to repair any dangerous conditions on the property and to warn any business visitors of hidden defects.
In the case of the visitor who comes to the land to "pick your own," the statute changed that standard to encourage landowners to make this business available to visitors. The law provides immunity through the following provision:
Notwithstanding the provisions of any law to the contrary, an owner, lessee or occupant of agricultural or horticultural land shall not have a legal duty to protect a person who is invited onto the land for the purposes of picking or taking agricultural or horticultural products from the natural risks or hazards that are inherent characteristics of agricultural or horticultural land, and shall not be liable if such a person invited onto the land is injured because of any natural risks or hazards that are inherent characteristics of agricultural or horticultural land. N.J.S.A 2A:42A-10
The changes to the usual operation of premises liability were accomplished in New Jersey by statute.