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.

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.

Seeking Compensation for Theme Park Accident Injuries in New Jersey

A number of catastrophic accidents at amusement parks across the United States this summer have led to heightened attention and increased scrutiny of theme parks in New Jersey. Now a recent report released by the Amusement Safety Organization indicates that one of the most dangerous theme parks in the entire country is in the Garden State.

Theme Park Accidents Are a Serious Problem in NJ

According to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, more than two billion people visit amusement parks annually. While these amusement park visitors expect to have a fun time, some visitors end up spending time in the hospital as a result of mishaps on roller coasters, water slides, and other theme park rides.

One theme park that has posed significant risks to customers over the years is Action Park in Vernon, New Jersey. The amusement park is located on the Mountain Creek ski resort. When the park opened in 1978, excited site visitors expected to enjoy the park’s many water-based attractions and rides. However, more than 100 swimmers nearly drowned in a wave pool on opening day. Since that time, six people have been killed in fatal accidents at Action Park. In fact, the park temporarily closed in 1996 due to liability issues. When the theme park reopened a few years later, it had a different name: Mountain Creek Waterpark.

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit against Negligent Theme Park Operators

The reality is that just about every amusement park poses injury risks. That’s why it is absolutely imperative that ride operators take precautions to ensure that site visitors remain safe at all times. In fact, amusement park operators have a legal obligation to maintain safe premises and protect visitors against injury.

In the event that an accident does occur at an amusement park in New Jersey, it is important for the injury victim to get prompt medical attention and then contact a qualified personal injury attorney who can help the victim get compensation to cover their medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages.

When a roller coaster accident is caused by negligence of an amusement park worker or ride operators, the injury victim may have a viable cause of action against the owner of the theme park. That’s because the agency theory of law typically holds business owners responsible for the actions of their employees (or agents).

For additional information, check out the following article: Most dangerous theme parks in the US