Kenneth Vercammen is a Middlesex County trial attorney who has published 130 articles in national and New Jersey publications on Criminal Law and litigation topics. He was awarded the NJ State State Bar Municipal Court Practitioner of the Year. He lectures and handles criminal cases, Municipal Court, DWI, traffic and other litigation matters. He is Co Chair of the ABA Criminal Law Committee, GP and was a speaker at the ABA Annual Meeting. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us or New clients email us evenings and weekends go to www.njlaws.com/ContactKenV.htm

Kenneth Vercammen & Associates, P.C,

2053 Woodbridge Avenue,

Edison, NJ 08817,

(732) 572-0500,

www.njlaws.com

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Liability for snow and ice fall downs and injury claims

Liability for fall downs and injury claims
The NJ law imposes upon the owner of commercial or business property the duty to use reasonable care to see to it that the sidewalks abutting the property are reasonably safe for members of the public who are using them. In other words, the law says that the owner of commercial property must exercise reasonable care to see to it that the condition of the abutting sidewalk is reasonably safe and does not subject pedestrians to an unreasonable risk of harm.
The concept of reasonable care requires the owner of commercial property to take action with regard to conditions within a reasonable period of time after the owner becomes aware of the dangerous condition or, in the exercise of reasonable care, should have become aware of it.
Property owners also have an obligation to keep their parking lots clean and safe.
    The Anchor tenant stores often also have duties under a lease and under the law. The snow removal and maintenance companies are also sometimes to blame for negligence & injuries.
         Inside, the commercial business typically is liable for fall downs, not the property owner. For example, if someone slips and falls inside the store, restaurant or hotel, the negligent company is liable. This includes slip and falls on wet floors near the entrance to a store or public business.
What actions must the owner of commercial property take with regard to defects/snow/ice accumulation/dangerous conditions? The action required by the law is action which a reasonably prudent person would take or should have taken in the circumstances present to correct the defect/snow/ice accumulation/ dangerous condition, to repair it/remove it or to take other actions to minimize the danger to pedestrians (for example, to give warning of it) within a reasonable period of time after notice thereof. The test is: did the commercial property owner take the action that a reasonably prudent person who knows or should have known of the condition would have taken in that circumstance? If he/she did, he/she is not negligent. If he/she did not, he/she is negligent.
The NJ Supreme Court held Commercial landowners are responsible for maintaining in reasonably good condition the sidewalks abutting their property and are liable to pedestrians injured as a result of their negligent failure to do so." Stewart v. 104 Wallace St., Inc., 87 N.J. 146, 157 (1981). A commercial landowner may be liable to a pedestrian who is injured due to the condition of the sidewalk, "if, after actual or constructive notice, [the owner] has not acted in a reasonably prudent manner under the circumstances to remove or reduce the hazard." Mirza v. Filmore Corp., 92 N.J. 390, 395 (1983). The commercial property owner's duty to maintain the sidewalk includes the obligation to remove snow or ice if the failure to do so would be negligent under the circumstances. Ibid.

     The following is the portion of the NJ Model Jury charge 5.20 which we used once in a successful case. The Judge read this law to the jury:
  
        The owner of commercial or business property is chargeable with a duty of making reasonable observations of his/her property, including the abutting sidewalk, in order to discover any dangerous condition that might develop or occur. The owner must make observations of his/her property, including the sidewalk, with the  frequency that a reasonably prudent commercial property owner would in the circumstances. If you find that such a reasonable observation would have revealed the dangerous condition alleged in this case, then the property owner is chargeable with notice of the condition although he/she did not actually know about it; that is, he/she is as much responsible for the condition as if he/she had actual knowledge of its existence.
If the unsafe condition is alleged to be snow and ice, N.J.S.A. 40:64-12 and any ordinance adopted by the municipality might be charged as a factor, the jury should consider the reasonableness of the time the defendant(s) has (have) waited to remove or reduce a snow or ice condition from the sidewalk.
If, therefore, you find that there was a condition of this sidewalk that was dangerous in that it created an unreasonable risk of harm for pedestrians, and if you find that the owner knew of that condition or should have known of it but failed to take such reasonable action to correct or remedy the situation within a reasonable period of time thereafter as a reasonably prudent commercial or business owner would have done under the circumstances, then the owner is negligent.
Where there is both a commercial and residential use of the property, the predominant use will determine the status of the property. Avalone v. Mortimer, 252 N.J. Super. 434 (App. Div. 1991), Wasserman v. W. R. Grace Co., 281 N.J. Super. 34 (App. Div. 1995). Hambright v. Yglesias, 200 N.J. Super. 392, 395 (App. Div. 1985), (two-family home utilized as apartment building in commercial property so as to impose duty upon owner to remove the ice from abutting sidewalk). Borges v. Hamad, 247 N.J. Super 353 (Law Div. 1990); aff’d, 247 N.J. Super. 295 (App. Div. 1990) (owner-occupied three-family house in a residential zone, with two rental units occupied solely by family members, is residential property). There is no affirmative duty on a charitable or religious institution to maintain public sidewalks abutting their properties. Lombardi v. First United Methodist Church, 200 N.J. Super. 646 (App. Div. 1985). But see Brown v. St. Venatius School, 111 N.J. 325 (1998) (school deemed commercial); Restivo v. Church of St. Joseph, 306 N.J. Super. 456 (App. Div. 1997) (leasing apartments even at below fair market value deemed commercial); Gilhooly v. Zeta Psi Fraternity, 243 N.J. Super. 201 (Law Div. 1990) (fraternity deemed commercial property owner).
The Owner of a vacant lot is not a commercial landowner for purposes of imposing sidewalk liability irrespective of the commercial status of the owner or the zoning. Briglia v. Mondrian Mortgage Corporation, 304 N.J. Super. 77 (App. Div. 1997); Abraham v. City of Perth Amboy, 281 N.J. Super. 81 (App. Div. 1995). 
The commercial property owner's responsibility to maintain the abutting sidewalk extends to commercial tenants in exclusive possession of the property. Antenucci v. Mr. Nick's Mens Sportswear, 212 N.J. Super. 124, 128-29 (App. Div. 1986). The liability of a commercial tenant for failure to maintain a sidewalk "is concurrent with that of the property owner." Jackson v. K-Mart Corp., 182 N.J. Super. 645, 651 (Law Div. 1981)..
See Christmas v. City of Newark, 216 N.J. Super. 393, 400 (App. Div. 1987) holding that Stewart, supra, establishes an absolute municipal immunity for deteriorated sidewalks; but, cf. Levin v. DeVoe, 221 N.J. Super. 61, at 64 n.1 (App. Div. 1987) disagreeing with the holding in Christmas. Shade Tree Commissions created by municipalities are granted absolute immunity pursuant to statute.

IF YOU FALL DOWN:
AT THE ACCIDENT SCENE
1. Stop . . . do not leave the scene of the accident. CALL THE AMBULANCE, tell them where the accident occurred and (ask for medical help as needed).
2. Notify the property manager or owner, if possible. Insist they observe where you fell. For example, if you fall on an icy sidewalk at the store/ business, notify the manager.
3. Get names and addresses of all witnesses- Witnesses will be a tremendous help to you in any subsequent court action if there is any question of liability involved. Get the names and addresses of as many witnesses as possible. If they refuse to identify themselves, jot down the license plate numbers of their automobiles. Do not discuss the accident with the witnesses. Do not give the witnesses' names to anyone but the police, your attorney or your insurance company.
4. You or friend/ family use a cell phone to take photos of the scene and negligent condition.
While waiting for ambulance, write down- Accident Information Date __ Time __ Location __ Weather __ Road conditions __ Damage __
5. Summary of accident __
6. Diagram of accident location
7. Call an ambulance. If you have any reason to suspect you were injured in the accident, go to a hospital immediately or see a physician promptly. You'll want it on record that you sought treatment right away, not in a week or so.
8. Write down name of Police Officers, Department and Badge Number, Ambulance crew, etc.
9. Do not assign or accept blame for the accident. - The scene of the accident is not the place to determine fault. Discuss the accident only with the ambulance and medical personnel, your attorney and with representatives of your insurance company. Give the store your name and address. - Be cooperative with the police.
10. Have immediate photos taken of accident site if you don’t have cell phone or camera.
11. Call a personal injury attorney immediately, not a real estate attorney. Call Kenneth A. Vercammen- Trial Attorney  
KENNETH VERCAMMEN & ASSOCIATES, PC
ATTORNEY AT LAW
2053 Woodbridge Ave.
Edison, NJ 08817
(Phone) 732-572-0500
      When you need help the most, we will be ready to help you. 
12. Never give a signed statement to the claims adjuster representing the property owner's insurance company. The same goes for a phone recording. They may be used against you in court to deny your claim. Speak with your personal injury attorney first.
IF YOU HAVE BEEN INJURED BY SLIPPING ON SNOW OR ICE
It is important that you --
1. DO NOT discuss your case with anyone except your doctors and attorney. 
2. DO NOT make any statements or give out any information.
3. DO NOT sign any statements, reports, forms or papers of any kinds, .
4. DO NOT appear at police or other hearings without first consulting with your attorney. INFORM YOUR ATTORNEY PROMPTLY of any notice, request or summons to appear at any hearings.
5. Refer to your attorney anyone who asks you to sign anything or to make any statement or report or who seeks information concerning your case.
6. Direct your doctor and other treatment providers not to furnish or disclose any information concerning your case to any entity other than your insurance company without YOU AND YOUR ATTORNEY'S WRITTEN PERMISSION.
7. You may have insurance coverages such as Blue Cross, Blue Shield or Major Medical, which require prompt attention. However, be sure to have your treatment providers send bills immediately to all of your insurance companies.
8. Notify your attorney promptly of any new developments. Small things may be important. Keep your attorney informed.
9. Maintain accurate records of all information and data pertaining to your case.
10. If you or any witnesses should move, be sure to notify your attorney of the new address.

Call Kenneth Vercammen Esq. 732-572-0500

Monday, February 6, 2017

Elks Citizen of the Year Awards dinner will be held at East Brunswick Elks Lodge on March 19

Elks Citizen of the Year Awards dinner will be held at East Brunswick Elks Lodge on March 19 from 1 to 5, the cost is $20 per person
    Kenneth Vercammen and other community leaders to be honored. You do not need to be an Elk member to attend.
   East Brunswick Elks 21 Oakmont Ave, East Brunswick, NJ 08816
    Madelyn Lenox PVP wrote : I would like to congratulate Ken Vercammen  our Justice who has been chosen as our lodge's Citizen of the Year. Ken runs races for different charities. He donates to our local food banks. He shares his knowledge of the Law at seminars for free.   He will be given the award at the District Dinner which will be held on Sunday, March 19 at the East Brunswick Lodge. The cost of the ticket will be $20.00. If you are interested in attending please contact Madelyn Lenox PVP at 732-572-2251.
       Each Lodge is encouraged to select a citizen, not necessarily an Elk, who has contributed in a special way to improving the local community. This individual should be someone who has shown leadership in the community; has contributed voluntary service and is recognized as being an all-around good citizen. Recognizing such a person show that the Elks are concerned with building a good community, and demonstrates "Elks Care - Elks Share." After the selection, the Elks honor him or her by presenting the award at a dinner sponsored by the Lodge.
                  Reasons to join the Elks clubs
       The Elks have been synonymous with charity and community for over 100 years.  They have distributed more than 3 billion dollars in cash, goods, and services to our country’s youth, veterans and disadvantaged.  In Edison and other towns, they sponsor Hoop Shoot, Soccer Shoot, college scholarship and drug education and prevention programs.
       I have enjoyed my Community Elks membership in the Edison Elks for 25 years.

ELKS - MY TOP 15 FUN EVENTS
  BY Kenneth Vercammen

1.     Wildwood Convention
2.     Lobster Night
3.     St. Patty’s Corned Beef Dinner
4.     Good Friday Fish Dinner
5.     Officers Installation & Dinner
6.     Easter Egg Hunt for Children
7.     Friendship at hundreds of clubs on the USA
8.     Swim Club opening for Elks  Edison Pool
9.     Family Pool Day
10.   Beef & Brew
11.   Family Pool Night
12.   Nascar Night
13.   Soccer Shoot out for Children
14.   Halloween Party for Children
15.   Ladies Auxiliary Christmas Party
16.   Christmas Party for Children

       We Elks are a nationwide fraternal organization of well over a million American citizens.  We love our country and desire to preserve its cherished institutions, traditions and values.  We respect our neighbors and constantly seek to promote their well-being.  We love and enjoy life and believe this enjoyment is increased by sharing it with family, friends and all with whom we come in contact.

       We expend over two million dollars yearly to bring encouragement, cheer and comfort to hospitalized veterans throughout the United States in fulfillment of our solemn pledge: “So long as there are veterans in our hospitals, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks will never forget them.”
       Through our local Lodge, district, state and national programs, we provide healthful activities, guidance and assistance to over eight million boys and girls every year.  We fund scholarships, athletic teams, summer camps, scouting, and drug education programs,  We encourage civic, environmental, and patriotic involvement through essay contests, seminars and distribution of materials; as well as family-oriented activities in our Lodges.
       Elks operate numerous camps, hospitals, clinics, training centers and in-home services for the care and treatment of children and adults with  physical disabilities including vision and speech problems, all across the county.
        In our many benevolence Elks and Lodges throughout the United States spend over forty-five million dollars annually in our various works of community betterment and charitable programs.  This does not take into consideration donated hours equivalent to over thirty-five million dollars.
        In approximately 2,300 Elks Lodges throughout the United States, persons prominent in public, business and professional life can be found.  In these Lodges, located in the principal cities and towns throughout America, the hand-clasp of fraternity and a warm welcome as a visiting Brother await you.
       The Edison Hall is available for rentals. Contact John Reedy 732-985-3083
                                        KENNETH VERCAMMEN

     To be eligible for membership in the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, you must be a citizen of the United States over the age of 21 who believes in God. You must be sponsored by a member of the Elks Lodge and reside in the jurisdiction of the Lodge you wish to join.


You can be sponsored by any member in good standing from any lodge in the country. You'll also need two other Elks who will be your references. The Elk who proposes you for membership will provide you with a copy of the Membership Application, or will email you a link to the online version of the form. Please follow all instructions and answer all questions. If applying via hard copy, please return your completed application to the Lodge Secretary.
      Your application will be read at a regular Lodge meeting. It will then be forwarded to the Investigating Committee, who will call you and set up a time for you and your sponsor to meet with the committee so that they can interview you.
        After the interview is concluded, the committee will report to the Lodge concerning your membership. The members will be given a notice not less than 10 days nor more than two months before the vote will be taken.
       When the vote is concluded, you will be notified and asked to present yourself and your spouse for indoctrination. During indoctrination, you will learn more about the Order's programs and charities. You will also be told during the program the date you will be initiated.
      After initiation as an Elk, you can take part in all meetings and social functions of the Lodge.
    Local lodges are everywhere and can be found using our online directory to locate a Lodge near you. https://www.elks.org

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Ethics & Marketing NJ State Bar Kenneth Vercammen, Esq., Shanna McCann,.Esq, Jason T. Komninos, Esq, Marc Garfinkle Esq. . Photo


Ethics & Marketing NJ State Bar Kenneth Vercammen, Esq., Shanna McCann,.Esq, Jason T. Komninos, Esq, Marc Garfinkle Esq. . Photo