Archive for the ‘Slip & Fall Injuries’ Category

Holiday Parties: Homeowner Liability

By Michael Paragano

Monday, November 16th, 2015

Where did the summer go?  Thanksgiving and Christmas are now just around the corner and with those holidays comes the holiday parties.

Often many people wonder what their liability is if someone is injured at their home during a holiday party or if someone has a little too much to drink and gets into an accident. This can be an important and somewhat confusing topic of conversation around this time.

In New Jersey, a social guest who is invited to someone’s home has limited protections from dangerous conditions. The host has no obligation to make his or her home safer for party guests than for themselves. The host is also not required to inspect their property to discovery dangerous conditions that can lead to injuries. But that’s not the end of it.

Homeowners can still be liable for guest’s injuries. If the host knows or has reason to know of a dangerous condition on the property that could harm their guests and it is a condition that a guest could not reasonably discover, the host has a duty to make the condition safe or give warning to the guest. It may be easier to look at a quick example:

Martha wants to host a Christmas party at her home and plans to invite about twenty people. In the process of cleaning her house for the party, while dusting her hardwood floors, she notices that there is a sharp nail poking out of the floor. It’s the same color as the floor, but she happened to notice it because she was cleaning. Martha gets distracted and forgets about the nail. Later on all her guests arrive and she forgets to mention the nail to any of them. At the end of the night her guest Donald gets his pant leg caught on the nail and falls and breaks his ankle.

In this example Martha actually knew of a dangerous condition that could pose harm to her social guests. Rather then remedy the condition by nailing it down or removing it, she left it. She gave no warning to Donald and he was unable to discover the condition because the nail was small and blended in with the flooring. When Donald gets hurt Martha is liable to him for his injuries.

This is just one example of how a social host can be liable to guests this holiday season. Other common scenarios aren’t as cut and dry as Martha’s knowledge of the nail. Often times, the dangerous condition may be one that the homeowner does not discover but is one that they should have discovered. Let’s look at another Martha example:

Martha is again cleaning for her party, but this time she doesn’t actually discover any dangerous conditions. She walks through her house about a dozen times before her guests arrive, including her long wooden hallway. Throughout the day she walks the hallway about ten times but she’s so preoccupied with the party that she fails to see a large puddle of water on the floor. Later when Donald is walking through the hallway he slips and injures himself. It is quite possible that Martha will be liable even though she never saw the spill as she should have been aware of the spill and warned her social guests.
If these scenarios sound familiar, you may want to speak to an attorney who handles these matters and see what your options are.

Homeowner Liability: Halloween Could be Scarier Than You Think…

By Michael Paragano

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Halloween can be a scary time for a lot of people. Every year on October 31, creatures like ghosts, goblins, vampires, and werewolves roam the streets in search of their prey. Well, maybe not prey, but they are certainly seen going door to door in search of candy.

If you think a few kids in costumes from Party City are scary, imagine one of them being injured on your property…

It has become a tradition each year for children to knock on doors in their neighborhoods with the famous phrase “trick or treat”. They open their bags and the kind person standing at the door drops some candy inside.

But what happens if one of those smiling children or their parents were injured on the property of the homeowner? In New Jersey, the homeowner may be liable.

A “trick or treater” is defined by New Jersey law as a licensee. A licensee is a person who has the right to enter or remain on land with the consent of the person who owns the land. As a result of its status as a licensee, the homeowner has a duty to protect the “trick or treater”.

Essentially, if the homeowner knows that there is a dangerous condition on their property and reasonably believes that the “trick or treater” would not see the condition and avoid it, the homeowner must either warn the “trick or treater” or make the condition safe. For example:

Peter has decided to dress as a ghost this year and he covers himself with a white sheet, but he cuts out two small holes for his eyes. Terry owns a house on Peter’s block. Terry has a bowl full of candy ready for “trick or treaters” but due to long hours at work; Terry hasn’t been able to cut his grass for 3 months. Terry also hasn’t had a chance to take care of the large hole in his porch steps, which he caused when he dropped his set of weights on it. In fact, Terry’s grass has gotten so long, that it drapes over the hole in the porch steps completely concealing the hole. As Terry stands at the door waiting for Peter and his friends to come to his front door, he sees Peter’s ghost costume and notices that Peter is having some trouble seeing through the holes. As Peter gets to the porch steps, his right ankle gets caught in the hole and he breaks his ankle.

Terry was aware that there was a dangerous condition on his property (the hole) and he reasonably believed that a “trick or treater” would not see the hole (because the grass covered it and his eyes were covered), yet Terry did not warn Peter (either by shouting to him or putting up a sign) to avoid the hole. Terry also did not fix the hole before Halloween. 

While this may seem like an extreme example, it will happen more than you think this year. Halloween can be a great time for kids and adults alike, but one bad step can ruin everyone’s fun. If you are trick or treating, be careful of any unknown hidden dangers. If you are a homeowner, be sure to check your property for liability before the big day and make sure you are aware of any and all possible dangerous conditions. Don’t let your Halloween experience turn into a nightmare…

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!

Slip and Fall Accident in Snow and Ice in New Jersey

By admin

Friday, May 27th, 2011

New Jersey Courts have long recognized a cause of action when a property owner fails to use reasonable care to prevent a slip and fall as a result of snow and ice that accumulates on the ground. One of the most common slip and fall accidents is a slip and fall caused by ice or packed snow that can often result in serious personal injuries.

In New Jersey, the owner of property has an obligation to keep their property in a reasonably safe condition, including the removal of snow and ice so as to prevent slip and falls or other personal injuries. Under New Jersey law, a person who enters a business is entitled to have a reasonably safe place within the scope of their invitation upon the property. Property owners are obligated to take whatever steps are necessary including plowing, salting and sanding so as to reduce the risk of slip and fall accidents as a result of snow and ice.

If a person slip and falls as a result of an icy or slippery condition caused by packed snow the law can provide a remedy for a personal injury suffered. Ordinarily a claim is initially made against the insurance company for the property owner who failed to properly take care of their property and if no fair settlement offer is made a personal injury attorney can file a law suit in the Superior Court of New Jersey where damages for personal injuries can be sought.

The heavy snowfalls of 2010 create the risk of a slip and fall accident as result of snow and ice. Often property owners fail to take all measures that are necessary to prevent injuries. If a person is injured as a result of a slip and fall on ice and suffers personal injuries they should contact a personal injury attorney to explore their rights.

The advent of cell phones creates a wonderful opportunity if individuals can have enough foresight to take a photograph of the area where they slipped and fell. A personal injury attorney who has evidence of the condition of the property where the slip and fall occurred would be in a much stronger position to prove a case if there were photographs that were taken at the time that accident occurred. Of course, sometimes people are so seriously injured or simply do not think about preserving evidence at the site of a slip and fall and failure to take a picture will not bar you from bringing a claim and evidence can be obtained from others by other means.

Property owners should all make a concerted effort to make sure that their property is safe and that snow and ice is removed in an area where people would be expected to be walking. However, if you do suffer a slip and fall as a result of snow and ice that accumulates as a result of the failure of a person to properly clear their property then you should consult with a New Jersey personal injury attorney about your rights.

Slip and Fall Injuries: Don’t Forget to Take a Photo

By admin

Friday, May 27th, 2011

In today’s world, many people carry a camera, although often they do not think about the fact that they have it.  Most cell phones today are able to take digital photographs.  This capacity can come in very handy when a person suffers a slip and fall accident.

One of the most common forms of personal injury is the slip and fall.  The slip and fall accident often results in severe personal injury including fractured bones, head injuries and tears to the ligaments and tendons in the body.  A person who suffers a slip and fall type injury should try to document the conditions that led to their fall.  Obviously, when a person suffers personal injury, their first thought is for their well-being and not to preserve evidence.  However, nothing is more critical than photos taken on the day of the accident that show a wet floor, an icy sidewalk or some other dangerous condition.

In addition, in this day and age juries expect to see photographs of an slip and fall accident scene and if a person does not take photos, that point could be argued against them.  Sometimes a person will suffer such severe personal injuries that they will not be able to take any photographs and in those circumstances medical attention should be your first priority.

However, if you are able to either take some pictures yourself or ask someone else to take them for you, by all means do it and give them to your personal injury attorney!

Taking accident scene pictures may provide the best evidence in any case for personal injuries you bring as a result of your slip and fall.  The Personal Injury Attorneys at Pellettieri, Rabstein and Altman would use those photographs to convince an insurance company that settlement is appropriate or ultimately at trial to establish your injury case.

Slip & Fall Injuries: Sidewalks

By admin

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Many slip and fall accidents in New Jersey are caused by cracks or upheavals of a sidewalk. New Jersey is largely made up of communities that have sidewalks, including locations in Mercer County and Burlington County.

A number of things cause sidewalks to crack: the age of the sidewalk, it’s exposure to weather conditions, tree roots or truck traffic all lead to cracks which create dangerous conditions to a sidewalk. Any person using a public sidewalk that is in a dangerous condition can potentially be harmed. Personal injuries, often serious personal injuries, can be caused by these defects in sidewalks.

In most cases, sidewalks are public easements that are essentially owned by the Town or City in which they exist. However, it is difficult to sue the governmental entity responsible for the sidewalk. Even if a sidewalk causes serious personal injuries, the New Jersey Tort’s Claim Act places restrictions on the ability to sue a government entity for an accident caused as a result of a condition of their sidewalk.

Fortunately, the New Jersey Supreme Court has imposed a responsibility on the owners of commercial properties to maintain the adjacent sidewalk. Stewart vs. 104 Wallace Street, Inc. 97 NJ 146 (1991). Therefore, if you fall on a sidewalk next to a commercial property, that landlord or owner would be responsible. The issue becomes more difficult when a person falls in front of a residential property. New Jersey’s Courts have not extended legal responsibility for slip & fall injuries caused by defects in a sidewalk adjacent to a residential property. Even though most municipalities require by ordinance that the property owner maintain their sidewalk, the Court’s in New Jersey have refused to hold property owners liable for slip and falls as a result of a defective sidewalk in front of a residential home.

However, this Rule like every other Rule has exceptions. If you can demonstrate that the property owner had some responsibility for creating the dangerous condition of the sidewalk or that the owner had made repairs and done so in a negligent manner liability can attach. Many cases were people suffered serious personal injuries do occur in front of residential property owner’s premises and unless you have an injury lawyer who is willing to dig for the facts and to determine the reason the sidewalk is in a dangerous condition, your case may be rejected. Pellettieri, Rabstein and Altman specialize in slip and fall cases including those accidents that occur on sidewalks. Our attorneys will make every effort to obtain information that would be helpful in proving a legitimate case for you in a slip and fall on a sidewalk. This also includes slip and fall that occur as a result of icy conditions to the sidewalk where the law is similar for that where the sidewalk is upheaved or have dangerous cracks in it.