Apr 14, 2020

New Jersey Appellate Court Holds that Ongoing-Storm Rule Does Not Apply in New Jersey

By Brian R. Lehrer, Esq.

In a case involving a slip and fall accident, the New Jersey Appellate Division recently held that the ongoing-storm rule does not apply in New Jersey because it arbitrarily relieves commercial land owners from any obligation to try to rend their property safe while sleet or snow is falling. Pareja v. Princeton International Properties, et. al. – N.J. Super. – (App. Div. 2020).

Pareja involved a slip and fall accident which occurred on a concrete driveway apron during a snowstorm. The trial Court dismissed plaintiff’s Complaint relying upon the ongoing-storm rule which holds that a commercial land owner has no duty to keep its premises reasonably free and clear of snow and ice until after a reasonable time passes following a storm. The Appellate Division held that this rule does not apply in New Jersey.

The Appellate Division held that a commercial land owner has a duty to take reasonable steps to render a public walking abutting into property – covered by snow or ice – reasonably safe, even when precipitation is falling. The Court noted that its holding should not be misread to impose absolute liability for every slip and fall injury sustained during a continuous storm, to require such landowners to take unreasonable precautionary measures, or to immediately clear every inch of their property from all amounts of snow or ice falling during a storm. The duty of care requires nothing more than expecting a commercial landowner to act in a reasonable prudent manner under all circumstances.