Property Managers and Premises Liability in New Jersey

When a tenant rents an apartment, home, or business property from a landlord or property manager, they expect to stay safe on the premises.

Property Managers and Premises Liability in New JerseyUnfortunately, this isn’t always the case, and accidents happen. When a tenant is injured due to the negligence of a property manager to keep the property up-to-date in structural and functional safety features, they have a right to seek damages in some cases. So what are the circumstances in which a property manager is liable for an injury that happens on their property, and when is the care and safe-keeping of a space the responsibility of the tenant? Read on to learn more about the obligations and liabilities of property managers in premises liability cases.

When is a property manager likely to be liable in New Jersey?

If a property has shared spaces, its maintenance and upkeep are the responsibility of the landlord or property owner. As such, if an injury occurs in a common area such as a lounge, pool area, or parking lot, a tenant can file a personal injury claim against the landlord and expect to receive compensation. Usually, such injuries that happen in a common area occur as a result of a landlord’s negligence. Unless there is regular upkeep, dangerous situations can exist, such as icy entrances, slippery stairways, and malfunctioning appliances such as communal cooking items or laundry machines. In all of these cases, it is the landlord’s legal responsibility to ensure that such fixtures are operating safely. While generally, landlords are off the hook when it comes to areas that are the exclusive domain of a tenant, common areas are definite liability centers. Yet common areas aren’t the only spaces in which landlords have a legal duty to maintain premises. Even a landlord’s own management of small but essential details, such as where and how they keep master keys,  can cause havoc that leads to a break-in or other accident, rendering them liable for failure to maintain the premises. Read on to learn about other areas in which premises liability falls in the court of a landlord or property management serving as their agent.

Smoke Alarms and Other NJ Emergency Equipment

Emergency equipment is one of the most essential fixtures in any private or business rental. Unfortunately, it is often overlooked by landlords and property managers, and tenants are left to find out that their preventive and emergency equipment is malfunctioning in highly inopportune and dangerous times. Things like smoke detectors and fire extinguishers have regular maintenance requirements that it is the duty of a landlord or property manager to schedule. If you are a tenant, take your safety into your own hands by inquiring as to the last time that the emergency equipment was serviced. If you are the victim of an accident that occurred due to malfunctioning equipment of this kind, contact our firm right away; you likely have the right to recover damages to your person and property caused by your landlord’s negligence.

Safety Features on Doors and Windows in NJ

Maintenance of Safety Devices Few things are more expected by a tenant than having a safely secured home or business environment, and few things are more terrifying than becoming aware that this is just not the case. It is the legal responsibility of a landlord to ensure that all exterior doors have proper locks and work well. If there is a common outer door shared by tenants, safety features must be in place to ensure that only invited guests enter the premises, and go where they are invited only. Having malfunctioning elements of a security system such as a buzzer that doesn’t work or worn locks and bolts create a scenario in which a person can break their way in; as such, regular maintenance and checks are necessary. Individual units must be checked regularly, at least at the beginning and end of a tenant’s tenure in the space – and more regularly if the tenant requests it – to ensure that doors, windows, and screens have locks that properly work and have not slipped out of place. A landlord is responsible for reviewing that any security features on doors or windows in accordance with municipal safety regulations, as well as things such as bars on doors and windows, are steadily attached while still ensuring that they are up to fire code, allowing for exit in the case of a fire or other emergency.

Did rental conditions jeopardize your and your family’s safety? Contact our Personal Injury Attorneys for a free confidential consultation at our Trenton office.

If you have been in an accident due to landlord or property management negligence, it’s essential that you have an attorney on your side. To recover damages due to your rental property accident, you’ll need the knowledge and requisite legal experience to successfully correlate your injuries with the negligence of the party responsible for maintaining property safety.

The attorneys at Kamensky, Cohen & Riechelson, have handled numerous cases in successfully representing clients and making sure their rights are protected and guaranteed. Our firm has worked side by side with clients from Burlington, Ewing, Princeton, Willingboro, Mount Holly, and Surrounding places. It will be our pleasure to talk to you during an initial consultation.

Call 609-528-2596 as soon as you are able after an incident to discuss your options and what can be done on your behalf. We can help.

Physical Therapy after an Accident in NJ

The three most common reasons for physical therapy are falls, auto accidents, and sports injuries.

Physical Therapy after an Accident in NJWhile people suffer accidents daily, tripping up a curb, banging a head on an open cabinet door, or jamming a leg against the corner of a low table, many serious injuries require a physical therapist’s help. Physical therapists treat serious and non-serious injuries alike, as injury can occur wherever you go, home, work, roadways, and stores. But when you cannot sleep, work, or grocery shop because you have too much pain to tend to daily activities, you need rehabilitative pain relief and restoration of healthy muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones. Restorative therapy includes strength, endurance, and flexibility.

When you slip on a slick surface or fall from a height, you may end up with sprains, bruises, cuts, and fractures. After visiting your doctor for a health evaluation, you may get a referral to a physical therapist to treat specific areas of the body, for instance, the back, neck, head, arms, and legs. Depending on how you feel, you may experience pain not only in the area directly impacted with the hard floor in the supermarket slip and fall, like the knees but also the neck and shoulders from bracing for the fall. In many accidents, the neck, back, and shoulders are jolted from impact but also tensing up in anticipation of impact and protecting the head. Whiplash is common in many types of accidents.

Physical Therapy after Car Accidents

Take car accidents, for instance. Of the millions of car accidents annually, whiplash is one of the more common resulting injuries. A driver may see the oncoming car or swerving vehicle into their lane and tense their arms, grip the steering wheel, clench their jaw, and stiffen their neck. When the impact occurs, all muscles, joints, nerves, and ligaments associated with those body parts suffer various degrees of stretching, straining, and tearing. Much depends on the severity of the impact. But car accidents may also include cuts from shattered glass, bruises from airbags deploying, internal injuries from being crushed or blunted with the steering wheel, windshield, or other car parts, and spinal cord and brain injuries from blunt trauma. Therapy may last for months for serious car accidents to get pain relief and mobility recovery.

Needing Physical Therapy for Sports and Workplace Injuries in NJ

And common sports injuries include muscle and ligament tears, like ACLU injuries, pulled muscles, sprained ankles, and shoulder, groin, and knee injuries. Whether a professional or recreational athlete, sports injuries are common reasons for physical therapy. Common workplace accidents and overuse injuries also necessitate physical therapy and continued treatment to manage and improve the areas of difficulty, whether the back, knee, neck, shoulder or another area of the body.

Importance of Physical Therapy in your Recovery Process

Importance of Physical Therapy on your Recovery Process Whatever the reason for your visit, physical therapy can help you recover faster, in many cases, returning to your pre-accident strength and mobility or improved daily functioning at the very least. Moreover, PT may help with the residual effects of an injury, like stiffness, overcompensation, and imbalance. When healing from a painful knee injury, you may develop tightness, stiffness, and overuse injury to the leg with the healthy knee. That may affect your balance and ability to walk for long periods. Physical therapists can help you overcome the long-term or secondary effects of injuries, for example, preventing a fall due to imbalance after a knee injury.

A further reason for physical therapy after an accident is pain management. With physical therapy, patients may forego or reduce the number of pain killers they need to cope with daily functioning. Physical therapy or PT builds strength and taps into natural pain relief by making space between bone and tissue that compress a nerve. Physical manipulation of the muscles and joints plus massage and nerve stimulation can provide natural pain relief rather than the temporary relief of opioids. Besides that, getting stronger with safe exercises improves a patient’s mood to make recovery quicker.

What if I can’t afford a Physical Therapist for accident injuries?

Every injured person wants to recover quicker and return to their lives before their accident. Financially, physical therapy may not be available to everyone, though most insurance policies cover it as medical treatment. However, if your accident resulted from another’s negligence, the costs of PT and all medical expenses may be within the responsible party’s insurance coverage or still their liability. In fact, many medical providers will take a lien against your future recovery if you are unable to pay for PT when you need it.

When lodging a personal injury claim against the responsible party and often their insurer, an accident victim totals all costs from medical to lost wages and out-of-pocket expenses for past, present, and future diagnosis and treatment of injuries due to the accident. By law, you are entitled to compensation for your losses to make you whole or place you in the pre-accident financial condition. At the time of settlement of your claim, you may reimburse your medical providers for treatment, or reimburse yourself for all of the money spent on previous medical care.

To prove your injuries and need for treatment are real to an insurer or a judge, you can show that physical therapy helped in the past and continues to help with the long-term effects of the accident. In that way, you can claim future costs of therapy in your accident claim and show that you are serious about your recovery as you follow doctor’s orders. An insurer or the negligent party may try to downgrade your injuries as minimal and your medical treatment as overstated. However, showing a consistent dedication of time to treatment and healing with PT can bolster your claim that you were injured to the extent you claim, and the documented PT details the treatment necessity and progress.

A NJ personal injury attorney is your antidote to incomplete or unconvincing claims.

Need an Attorney for personal injury physical therapy claim NJFortunately, you do not have to suffer the effects of an injury and, at the same time, pursue a claim with an adversarial insurance company or responsible party by yourself. You must carefully prepare and pursue a personal injury claim. Insurance company adjusters and defense attorneys get paid to cast doubt and skepticism on personal injury claims. They look for over-billing and unnecessary treatment, and any other costs to pare down from a claim. Fighting for your claim while you are treating for painful injuries is tough.

Concerned about Covering the Costs of Physical Therapy for your Injury Case in New Jersey? Leave it all to the experienced attorneys KCR

The experienced personal injury attorneys at Kamensky, Cohen & Riechelson deal with injury claims all the time and know the in’s and out’s of proving accident claims to get you compensated. No matter what the source of your injury requiring continue physical therapy and costing heavily in medical treatment, along with your mental and physical health, count on our legal team to tirelessly seek the compensation you deserve.

At Kamensky, Cohen & Riechelson we frequently assist clients throughout Trenton, and Mercer County, including East Windsor, Ewing, Hamilton, Hightstown, and Lawrence. Call 609-528-2596 as soon as you are able after an accident to discuss your options and what can be done on your behalf.

Who can be Liable in a Premises Liability Case?

A property owner can be held responsible for injuries or damages caused to a person on their property.

Who can be Liable in a NJ Premises Liability Case?If you have ever heard of a slip and fall case, say, a 40-year-old woman sliding across a slick supermarket floor where another customer broke a pickle jar open, you probably think that the property owner is in big trouble. They are on the hook for any medical bills and lost wages the woman incurs because of the accident. That may or may not be accurate. Premises liability is not so cut and dried. Under common law rules and statutory laws, a property owner must make sure that no one gets hurt on their property; in other words, no dangerous condition exists on the property that would cause someone to get injured. But it depends on the property owner’s relationship to the person who gets hurt and what type of property to some extent. For instance, a business property owner is far more responsible to those injured because they invite people to their property by simply being open for business. On the other hand, private homeowners are not as obligated to make their property safe for others. And companies and private owners have even less obligation to a trespasser unless the trespasser is a child wandering onto the property.

Who is Liable for Injuries under Premises Liability Law in New Jersey?

The law of premises liability is complex and nuanced. Thus, it is not a matter of commercial property owners are liable to injured customers and residential owners are not. As such, a homeowner who knows about a broken step in their staircase must notify a guest of that danger. Even if they were unaware of the broken step, they may still be liable if the broken staircase is so apparent that anyone could reasonably see that they should repair the broken stair. In addition, if a trespasser enters private property, an owner formerly had no duty to the trespasser for their safety under common law by their status as a trespasser. However, the law gives special consideration to children who enter onto another’s property. At least one Supreme Court case has held a private property owner has some duty of reasonable care for a trespasser’s safety. So, if you have a six-foot deep ditch in your yard where a swimming pool is in construction, you may be liable for injuries to the neighbor’s kid who sneaks in your yard through an open gate and falls in the hole, especially if kids have trespassed in your yard before. Exceptional circumstances aside, however, most injuries occur on business premises, where a business owner is more likely to be responsible for damages to those entering their property.

How do you prove a premises liability claim in NJ?

To successfully sue a property owner for personal injury damages, a plaintiff must prove that a dangerous condition existed on the property that the owner should have reasonably known would probably cause someone injury and that the owner knew of the situation but did nothing about it. And if the property owner is a public entity, then New Jersey’s Tort Claims Act (N.J.S.A. 59-1 et seq.) applies. The Act requires that the injured party plaintiff prove that the public entity could reasonably foresee that the dangerous condition on their property could injure someone, that it did hurt someone, and that they did nothing about the condition despite knowing about or creating the danger.

Thus, a slip and fall liability provides a good illustration. Take the example of the broken pickle jar at the supermarket. A court would look at whether the business owner could have foreseen items on shelves would fall, break, and cause a risk of someone slipping and whether the owner should be liable for such an accident. A skilled attorney well-versed in premises liability law could argue that the supermarket owner should be accountable for their client’s injury. Customers knocking jars over into the aisle is common. A store owner should know that and be vigilant about spills, cleaning the area quickly and posting a visible warning of the danger, like a fluorescent cone marking the spot. In that way, the customer is aware that they should steer clear.

Holding Property Owners Liable for Personal Injury Compensation and Medical Bills in Trenton, NJ

Accidents happen everywhere, but a property owner should compensate you if your injury is their fault. You may have expensive medical bills that the responsible party should pay because they could have prevented your injury. By discussing your situation with a premises liability attorney, you might discover that you have a valid claim against the one who caused you injury. More importantly, your attorney can help you identify who is responsible for your damages. For example, someone other than the people who live at a private residence may own it. Your attorney would have to establish who created the dangerous condition and who, under the rental agreement, is responsible for ensuring that the property is safe.

Personal Injury Compensation in Trenton, NJFor example, a landlord may be responsible for landscaping and structural conditions, like trees, cement foundations, and swimming pools, while the tenant may be responsible for fixing appliances, plumbing, yard gates, and the like. It may matter where you were injured or by what to determine who is responsible. Both the landlord and the renter may be liable, and your attorney will probably advise including both in your personal injury claim. Likewise, a sole owner, a corporation, a partnership, or another business entity may own the location of your injury. In that case, your attorney would help you locate all responsible parties, including a public entity, if you were injured at a school or on government property, for example.

You would have to prove liability based on a different set of laws for a public entity than a private business or residence, so it is essential to know who owns the property where you were injured. Since premises liability injury matters can be complex, you will need guidance from an experienced attorney.

Need to File a Premises Liability Claim in New Jersey? Call KCR today

You are entitled to seek compensation if you were injured on someone else’s property. There are different avenues you can explore, but you do not have to do it on your own. When it comes to personal injury claims we strongly recommend consulting and eventually retaining a law firm that knows how to handle your case in a professional and strategic way.

If you or someone you love suffered injuries from a slip and fall accident or any other injuries suffered because of negligent behavior in towns such as Windsor, Lawrence, Groveville, Lambertville, Princeton, Florence, or Trenton give us at 609-528-2596 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free and confidential consultation with the attorneys at Kamensky, Cohen & Riechelson.

New Jersey Supreme Court Follows Through with “Ongoing Storm Rule”

We all know how much the variable climate affects every aspect of our lives in New Jersey.

New Jersey Ongoing Storm RuleThe snow and ice storms in the state create a plethora of precarious conditions for the roadways, sidewalks, and residential and commercial properties, but New Jersey residents have learned to navigate those conditions with caution to remain safe. One area of navigation that continues to be an issue regards public walkways and sidewalks in front of and within commercial properties. A recent New Jersey Supreme Court decision, Pareja v. Princeton International Properties & Lowe’s Landscaping and Lawn Maintenance, LLC, overturned the Appellate Division’s ruling that commercial and private properties are required to remove precarious walking conditions in the ongoing presence of precipitation, adopting the “Ongoing Storm Rule.”

What is the “ongoing storm rule”?

The “ongoing storm rule,” according to text from New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Fernandez-Vina’s majority opinion, is the precedent by which the owner of property does not have the legal obligation to remove snow or ice from public walkways until a reasonable amount of time subsequent to the precipitation ending. Given the amount of rain, ice, and snow that falls in New Jersey, the creation of precarious walking conditions is a practically inevitable aspect of winter and transitional months. The protection of property owners under the “ongoing storm rule” is quite vast, because the rule implies that it is impractical to remove snow or ice from sidewalks until the precipitation has ceased to fall. This argument of what is practical and therefore a safety responsibility, and what is impractical, has colored the New Jersey courts for decades. The majority noted in its opinion that liability lawsuits against property owners regarding slip and fall cases due to inclement weather have been on the record in New Jersey since 1926.

The Court noted multiple other states in the Northeast that adhere by the tenets of the “Ongoing Storm Rule” to protect commercial property owners from lawsuits that occur as the result of a slip and fall during inclement weather conditions. Yet, while the NJ Supreme Court’s decision was that the “ongoing storm rule” is justifiable and can serve as umbrella protection for property owners in inclement New Jersey weather, the ruling did leave the door open for future liability lawsuits to continue.

The Grey Area

While the majority of NJ Supreme Court Justices ruled in favor of endorsing the “Ongoing Storm Rule” (the Court ruled in favor of the defendant 5-2), left quite a bit of grey area. In overturning the Appellate Division’s majority opinion that it is the property owner’s legal duty to act in a reasonably swift manner to remove precarious conditions. The Supreme Court noted that such an imposition on property owners does not take into condition their reasonable capacity to remove such dangerous obstacles, especially if they are small businesses.

The ruling upholding the “Ongoing Storm Rule” noted its trust of juries to determine whether the property manager acted in an appropriate manner and with appropriate expeditiousness. This placed a large amount of the application of the “Ongoing Storm Rule” in the hands of the deciding party on a case-by-case basis. Justice Fernandez-Vina stated clearly in its opinion that the jury could of course hear testimony that would inform whether the “Ongoing Storm Rule” would be appropriate to apply. The majority opinion was also clear that there are extenuating circumstances, which they called “unusual circumstances,” in which the breadth of the “Ongoing Storm Rule” might be reconsidered or reconfigured, and the property owner may be held responsible for accidents occurring on their public walkways. The opinion stated,

What is the “ongoing storm rule”?“First, commercial landowners may be liable if their actions increase the risk to pedestrians and invitees on their property, for example, by creating ‘unusual circumstances’ where the defendant’s conduct ‘exacerbate[s] and increase[s] the risk of injury to the plaintiff….Second, a commercial landowner may be liable where there was a pre-existing risk on the premises before the storm. For example, if a commercial landowner failed to remove or reduce a pre-existing risk on the property, including the duty to remove snow from a previous storm that has since concluded, he may be liable for an injury during a later ongoing storm.”

To ensure that you navigate your slip-and-fall lawsuit successfully as a plaintiff or commercial defendant, it is important to have the support of an experienced attorney.

Contact our Injury Attorneys for Help with Your Claim

If you are engaged in or considering filing a slip-and-fall lawsuit due to inclement New Jersey weather, our skilled injury attorneys are on your side. Examining your case to understand if it has the necessary elements to obtain compensation for a slip and fall is crucial, and we can help.

At Kamensky, Cohen & Riechelson, we successfully represent clients in Hamilton Township, Trenton, Ewing, and across Mercer, Camden, Burlington, Atlantic, Somerset, and Middlesex County.

Get in contact with us at 609-528-2596 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss the grounds for your lawsuit for injury compensation.

Impact of COVID-19 on Personal Injury Cases in NJ

Though businesses and life, in general, are opening up lately, COVID-19 will have long-lasting effects on the courts and all the entities involved in a personal injury claim.

Impact of COVID-19 on Personal Injury Cases in NJIf you’ve been harmed in a car accident, in a slip and fall in a grocery store, or in any other circumstance where some other person or entity caused you injury on their property or anywhere else in New Jersey, you have the right to seek compensation for the medical bills, pain, and suffering that you endure by filing a personal injury claim.

There are some aspects of the courts, insurance companies, and businesses that have changed because of COVID-19, and that you need to be aware of under the unique circumstances. Know what to expect as you pursue your claim.

Is There a Limitation on When I Can File My Claim?

First and foremost, you need to be aware that the clock is ticking. You do not have unlimited time to file your claim.

Every state in the U.S. places a limit on how much time you can take to file a personal injury claim. The law that places this limit is known as a statute of limitations.

New Jersey’s statute of limitations for personal injury cases allows a person injured by a person or an entity two years to file a claim. Generally, the clock on that claim starts ticking on the day of the accident.

Though you may want to wait to collect all the doctor’s bills that accrue because of your injury, you must also keep in mind that if you don’t get your claim filed before two years is up, the courts will probably refuse to put your case on the docket. Your ability to gain compensation for your pain, suffering, and lost wages will, most likely, be lost unless there is an unusual circumstance that the court believes extends the deadline.

Don’t wait to file your claim because of COVID-19.

And don’t wait to file your claim because you feel that you don’t have enough money to pay legal fees. Remember that personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis. They only get paid if the case is won.

My Personal Injury Case

Even during the height of the pandemic, when people mostly stayed home, there were still car accidents and slips and falls at grocery stores. Now that the economy and businesses are opening up, it’s unfortunate but likely that even more of these incidents will occur.

Pandemic or not, if you’ve suffered an injury that is not your fault, there are a few principles that you should follow:

·        Take pictures early on and steadily thereafter.

·        Keep a pain log daily that will document all that you endured.

·        Get a medical evaluation immediately. Go to all your medical appointments.

·        Documentation is key. It greatly improves your odds of getting compensation.

·        Never speak with any person from the insurance company, including adjusters, before speaking to a personal injury lawyer.

How Does the Pandemic Affect My Case?

How Does the Pandemic Affect My Case?Even though restrictions have eased, COVID-19 is still having a profound effect on personal injury claims in four broad areas:

Insurance companies.

They are worried about lower profits because of the pandemic, and they are aggressive in reducing settlements. They may try to take advantage of the fact that people might be more desperate because of lost wages due to the pandemic, and they are likely to low-ball their first offer. People should not just leap at the first offer from an insurer because it probably won’t reimburse them for medical bills, pain and suffering. As both sides dig in, more personal injury cases may wind up before a judge than usual.

Businesses.

Due to COVID-19, more businesses than usual are filing for bankruptcy. This means that compensation you might have been able to gain from them will be reduced to pennies on the dollar.

Courts.

New Jersey courts shut down and moved all proceedings onto technology platforms like Zoom because of COVID-19. Courts in New Jersey began to open up on June 22, 2021, but many hearings and procedures are still being conducted online. This means that personal injury cases might not be settled as quickly as they would in normal circumstances. Most PI cases get settled before trial, but many cases get at least one hearing in court, at least before a settlement is reached. Expect delays in getting your case settled.

Uninsured drivers.

Due to financial hardship during COVID-19, some drivers may have stopped paying for car insurance. This may complicate things for the victim of a car accident since they can’t be compensated by the driver’s insurance company. The victim may need to pursue compensation via the uninsured/underinsured driver policy through their insurer. A victim needs to be mindful that, in this instance, their insurer becomes an adversary and will resist paying. This kind of claim may be highly contested; the help of an attorney may be essential.

Don´t hesitate in contacting our Personal Injury Lawyers for a Free Consultation

If you feel that you have the potential for a personal injury claim, please call Kamensky, Cohen & Riechelson today. Our capable personal injury lawyers can fight for you with the insurance companies trying to take advantage of people in desperate straits because of COVID-19. You will need the guidance of experienced attorneys to get the best possible settlement for you and your family.

You can reach us at 609-528-2596 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss your individual needs and concerns.