Archive for December, 2011

Insurance “Immunities” limit our Constitutional Rights

By Edward Slaughter, Jr.

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

The idea behind “insurance” is that it is a method of spreading risks.  So, if a house is destroyed by fire, the owner, if insured, does not have to bear the full weight of that loss by himself/herself.

The same is true of casualty insurance.  We pay insurance premiums so that if we cause an accident, we don’t have to pay the full measure of the other innocent person’s losses.   The insurance company does that for us depending on what kind of insurance we bought.

For the past few decades insurance companies have gradually moved away from this idea.  They are now multinational companies with tremendous power and wealth.  They do everything they can to influence political decisions.  They, together with their allies in Congress or State Legislatures, do all they can to limit our Constitutional right to access the Court system to litigate our claims.

The New Jersey Constitution in Article 1, Paragraph 9 and Amendment VII of the United States Constitution state that the right to trial by jury in civil cases is inviolate and shall not be infringed upon.

Yet, all sorts of “immunities” have sprung up in New Jersey.  All of the following are now immune from suit to one degree or another: amusement rides, playgrounds, horseback riding, ski resorts, roller skating rinks, owners of property used for recreational purposes, volunteer first aid or fire companies, sports officials, mental health workers and condominiums.

It seems that the New Jersey Legislature is more interested in seeing to it that insurance companies pay fewer claims than it is in protecting people who are injured because of the negligence of others.  It’s also interesting that many of these immune entities cater primarily to children.

Sidewalk Slip and Falls

By Sherri L. Warfel

Monday, December 12th, 2011

With the cold and snowy weather just ahead of us the question always arises – what happens when you fall because of a property defect on property owned by someone else?

The general rule, when it comes to defects in a sidewalk, is that while residential homeowners are not responsible, commercial owners are responsible for those defects in sidewalks abutting their property.  The rationale for this is that commercial owners are aware and actually encourage people to use those sidewalks to enter their businesses and purchase consumer goods.  New cases have come down recently from the Supreme Court defining what is considered a commercial what is not a commercial entity; for instance, an apartment complex is but a condominium complex may not be.  A fall on a sidewalk owned by a housing authority may be considered commercial, but does that governmental entity have snow or weather immunity is a question to be considered in legal matters if you are injured from the fall.  Additionally, if you are a resident who undertakes to clear your snow and do snow negligently, that is a circumstance in which you might be liable to a person injured on your property. 

 So with this season coming, I have conveniently brushed up on my knowledge in handling cases in this area and I can help you with any questions you may have.  Contact me with any questions and have a happy and safe holiday season!