Snow and Ice: Not Always Nice at a Condominium or Apartment Complex

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In New Jersey, living with snow and ice during the winter comes with the territory. While snow provides the occasional “snow day” for our children, it also affects our ability to run errands, get to work or even go to the mailbox. If not properly removed, snow and ice at condominiums and apartments can cause slip and fall accidents or car accidents. Contact a personal injury attorney if you were injured by snow and ice at your condominium or apartment.

Condominium and apartment complexes are attractive places to live because the associations and/or building owners usually arrange and pay for maintenance, such as snow and ice removal. Many residents of Somerset County live in these associations or complexes such as The Hills in Bedminster Township, the Bridle Club at Bridgewater and the Stone Bridge at Raritan.

Unfortunately, for many New Jersey and Somerset County residents, snow and ice result in falls that cause devastating injuries, leading to mounting medical bills and an uncertain future. Many of these incidents, however, are avoidable if condominium associations or apartment complexes follow the laws designed to protect their residents.

In New Jersey, associations and apartment complexes are responsible to clear snow and ice from sidewalks that are controlled by association/complex. Typically, owners of residential property, such as a single family home, have no duty to remove or warn of snow and ice accumulation that has occurred naturally. Although an owner of a home may be responsible if the owner made the snow and ice condition worse. However, this “no duty” rule does not apply to owners of commercial enterprises such as condominium and apartment complexes.

Recently, in Qian v. Toll Brothers, 223 N.J. 124 (2015), the New Jersey Supreme Court held that condominium associations and apartment complexes owe a duty to keep sidewalks or walkways that fall within the common elements of common-interest community property reasonably free of snow and ice. The duty to address snow and ice accumulation applies to all walkways and sidewalks within an association or complex that are owned by the association/complex and accessible by all residents.

However, despite the decision in Qian v. Toll Brothers, condominium associations are still immune from liability if the bylaws provide that unit owners cannot sue the association for damages as a result of bodily injury to the unit owner occurring on the premises of the community. In addition, condominium associations and apartment complexes may also attempt to deflect blame to the snow removal contractor or landscaper. A careful review of the association bylaws and the snow removal contracts will help to determine whether the association/complex, snow removal contractor, or both, is responsible for failing to remove the snow and ice.

In short, condominium associations and apartment complexes have a duty to address snow and ice accumulations within a reasonable time after a snow or ice event has ended. The “time” element varies from case to case depending on the type of precipitation and the amount and timing of traffic on the area where the fall occurred.

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If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall accident on icy sidewalks, walkways, driveways and parking lots in New Brunswick or anywhere else in New Jersey, get the medical attention you need.  Then, call RAM Law now for a free initial consultation.  Contact us by e-mail or call our offices, in New Brunswick at 732-247-3600 or in Somerville at 908-448-2560.

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To schedule a confidential consultation, contact us online or call our offices, in New Brunswick at (732) 247-3600, in Somerville at (908) 448-2560, or in Freehold at (732) 828-2234.

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