Who Is Responsible for a Dangerous Condition Located in a Multi-Tenant Commercial Business Center?

January 30, 2014 · Posted in Blog, Personal Injury Blog 

Premises liability law can often be complex, especially when there are several parties involved. The Law Office of Randolph H. Wolf represents a client that was injured when he sustained serious injuries after he fell into a sinkhole located in the parking lot of a multi-tenant commercial business center. The sinkhole was located in the loading dock area directly behind one business, let’s call them “Business A” Another business, “Business B,” however, had frequently utilized the area in question as well. Business B., in fact, had directed our client, a crane mechanic, to go this specific area on the day of the accident in order repair a crane that was located there. Both Business A and Business B were leasing the premises.

Randolph H. Wolf filed suit against Business A, Business B, and the owner of the parking lot. Soon thereafter, Business B moved to dismiss the claims against it on the grounds that it was not responsible for maintaining the area in which the client’s injury occurred. Business B argued that they could not be liable because they did not own or have responsibility to repair or maintain the property in question and the accident occurred in an area outside its unit. Neither ownership nor control is the sole consideration, however. Read More »

I Was Injured by a Hit and Run Driver. What Should I Do?

January 5, 2014 · Posted in Blog, Personal Injury Blog 

Drivers that cause automobile accidents are legally required to stop and identify themselves after the accident, regardless of the severity of damage. Unfortunately, hit and run accidents, in which the driver at fault leaves the scene without identifying themselves, happen frequently. According to the Department of Transportation, one in five pedestrians killed in a motor vehicle accident was hit by a hit and run driver.
Read More »

Can I Recover for Injuries Sustained in an Accident if I Was Negligent as well?

November 25, 2013 · Posted in Blog, Personal Injury Blog 

Contributory Negligence in New Jersey

In many personal injury cases, both the plaintiff and the defendant may be, to some degree, at fault for an accident.  For example:

  • A driver slams on the brakes and stops abruptly behind another stopped vehicle.  A distraction with the radio prevented the driver from noticing the car earlier.  Technically, a driver who cannot stop in time behind the distracted driver will be responsible for the accident but the distracted driver can share some of the negligence for this type of accident as well.
  • A doctor fails to diagnose a condition accurately.  The patient, however, did not disclose vital information to the doctor.  In this type of case the patient may share liability or even be identified as the at fault party.
  • A homeowner buys a new power tool and sustains injuries after failing to follow safety precautions.  If the instructions were clear and safety warning labels were prominent, the victim will likely share liability or again may be identified at the at fault party for this accident.

Where an injury victim shares negligence with the other parties, they can still recover so long as their negligence does not exceed that of all the other parties involved.  Pursuant to New Jersey contributory negligence law, however, the damages the plaintiff is entitled to will be reduced proportionately to their degree of fault.  So, for example, if the jury finds that the plaintiff was 20 percent negligent in an action that results in $10,000.00 in damages, the plaintiff would only be permitted to recover $8,000.00 from the defendants.  If, however, the jury determines that the plaintiff’s negligence is 50 percent or more, they would be completely barred from recovering damages against the other parties.

If you were injured in an accident and have questions about liability, contact Randolph Wolf today to discuss your case.

Awarding Punitive Damages in New Jersey Personal Injury Cases

November 18, 2013 · Posted in Blog, Personal Injury Blog 

Punitive damages are those damages that are meant to punish the defendant.  They are given in addition to damages that compensate the plaintiff for medical bills, loss of income, or pain and suffering.  There is no limit on the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded.  For example, a jury recently awarded the family of a paralyzed seven-year-old girl $75 million from a beer vending company at Giants Stadium for over serving a customer whose drunk driving caused the girl’s injuries.

While such high punitive damages awards are highly publicized, they are rarely awarded in the average personal injury case.  This is because there are difficult requirements for an entitlement of a punitive damage award.  The plaintiff must prove each of the following three requirements:

  1. The injury was caused by the defendant’s action or failure to act.  The evidence must clearly establish that the defendant was responsible for the adverse event.
  2. The adverse event caused the plaintiff’s actual injuries.  The plaintiff must have incurred medical expenses and other costs, loss of income, and pain and suffering.
  3. The defendant acted with wanton disregard or malice towards the injured party.

The third requirement is where most personal injury cases, which typically involve simple negligence, fail.  While, as seen in the above example, it is sometimes possible to prove wanton disregard or recklessness, it is extremely difficult to prove that a business acted with malice or intentionally caused injury to a consumer.

If you have been injured in an accident, contact Randolph H. Wolf today.

Proving Liability in a Products Liability Action: Res Ipsa Loquitur

June 24, 2013 · Posted in Blog, Personal Injury Blog 

Typically, expert testimony is required to establish liability in products liability cases.  Sometimes, however, liability can be proven through the use of the legal doctrine res ipsa loquitur.  Res ipsa loquitur is a Latin phrase meaning “the thing speaks for itself.”  It is a method of proving that a tort occurred in certain types of civil trials. In other words, it permits a plaintiff in certain tort cases to simply invoke res ipsa loquitur to prove the negligence element of a tort cause of action. Read More »

Towing: Liability for Overweight Loads

April 1, 2013 · Posted in Blog, Personal Injury Blog 

Those towing are responsible for and must have knowledge of the load being transported, including its weight.  Overloading a truck can affect its braking and steering, leading to potentially fatal accidents.  An overloaded truck goes slower on upgrades, faster on downgrades, and when the brakes are forced to work too hard, they may fail.  If the weight of the trailer is greater than that of the towing vehicle, there is a great likelihood of a loss of control, especially when traveling downhill.

If you are involved in an accident while towing an oversized load where people were injured, you have exposed yourself to liability for negligence for towing beyond your vehicle’s maximum capacity.  The federal weight limit for an 18-wheeler without an overweight permit is 80,000 pounds.  Truck drivers must inspect the cargo prior to the trip, unless the load is sealed and the truck driver has been instructed not to break the seal. In the event that the cargo is sealed, however, the driver must still obtain relevant payload characteristics.

Vehicle owners should check the towing capacity specified by the vehicle manufacturer. All too often, however, vehicle owners fail to properly understand their truck’s maximum weight-carrying capacity. As an example, a vehicle owner who think their pickup can tow up to 12,000 pounds often misses one small detail: the difference between “weight-carrying” and “weight-distributing” maximum towing capacities.  Read More »

Truck Manufacturers: The Duty to Protect Non-Occupants who Collide with their Vehicles

March 18, 2013 · Posted in Blog, Personal Injury Blog 

Truck guards or underride devices lower the rear bumper of the truck to prevent cars from going underneath, crushing the car or tearing off its roof.  This one piece of safety equipment can be the key to preventing an underride.  Truck underride accidents are almost always fatal for occupants of the smaller vehicle.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) promulgated regulations for rear underride guards in 1996.  These standards set forth rear-impact guard requirements for trailers and semi-trailers manufactured on or after January 26, 1998, that had a gross weight of 10,000 pounds. These requirements were extended by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to all commercial vehicles in 1999.

Despite the existence of federal regulations on the subject, many trucks are not equipped with a guard and not all courts impose a duty on truck manufacturers to protect non-occupants who collide with their vehicles by installing these safety devices.  For example, in Mieher v. Brown, 54 Ill. 2d 539 (Ill. 1973), the plaintiff brought a wrongful death suit against the driver and manufacturer of a semi-trailer truck that the decedent rear-ended while turning off a highway. The plaintiff alleged that the manufacturer negligently designed the truck because it did not attach underride protection to the rear of it.  The Illinois Supreme Court, however, held that while such underride accidents may be “in a sense, foreseeable,” the failure to equip a vehicle with underride protection did not create an “unreasonable” danger or an unreasonable risk of injury.

Despite the ruling in Mieher, most courts have imposed a duty on truck manufactures to make their vehicles safe to collide with.  At least nine states  have allowed such causes of action against vehicle manufacturers.  These states include: Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, Oregon and Texas.

Responsibility of Homeowners and Renters to Remove Snow and Ice from Sidewalks in New Jersey

March 12, 2013 · Posted in Blog, Personal Injury Blog 

New Jersey sidewalks are governed by a complex web of laws and regulations. Homeowners and renters often have questions about who is responsible for shoveling and salting sidewalks in New Jersey, fearing that failing to properly clear their sidewalks and walkways of snow and ice could expose them to liability for slip and fall accidents.

New Jersey sets different standards of liability depending upon whether the abutting property is owned by a private individual or a public entity and, if private, whether the use of the abutting property is commercial or residential. While commercial property owners have a duty to inspect for and remove or making safe accumulations of snow and ice on the adjacent sidewalk, as a general proposition, an abutting homeowner or renter owes no duty to pedestrians using the abutting sidewalk to remove ice and snow under New Jersey law.  It is important to keep in mind, however, that a landowner or renter who has no duty to clear a sidewalk of snow and ice but who voluntarily undertakes the task of doing so will be liable if “through his negligence a new element of danger or hazard, other than one caused by natural forces, is added to the safe use of the sidewalk by a pedestrian.”  Thus, the law in New Jersey on snow and ice removal is as such: Residential homeowners and renters are generally not liable for defects to a sidewalk or natural accumulations of snow and ice but may be liable for snow and ice conditions if they attempt to make a sidewalk safer for pedestrians by negligent attempts to address snow and ice. Read More »

This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. [ Sitemap ]