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If Patron Has Been Overserved, Can You Sue The Bar If They Cause An Accident?

As we draw to the end of one year and the start of a new one, plenty of people are celebrating, either at restaurants, bars and clubs or in the homes of friends or family members where they’ve been overserved. Despite concerted efforts to educate the public about the dangers of drinking and driving, there are still plenty of people who drink too much and get behind the wheels of their automobiles. Drunk drivers leave a path of destruction and tragedy in their wake, and frequently they’re not the only ones responsible. Careful investigation often reveals that there are others who have failed to take action to avert disaster, including establishments and hosts who overserve customers despite their obvious intoxication. In the state of New Jersey, these individuals and entities can also be held responsible for the damage that their guest or patron causes.

The law that holds restaurant, club and bar owners responsible when they sell alcohol to obviously intoxicated clients is Section 2A:22A-4 of the New Jersey Revised Statutes. Known as a dram shop law, it permits people who have been harmed by a drunken driver to file a lawsuit against these businesses, holding them responsible for not having acted to prevent an accident. The two conditions under which this law applies are when an establishment serves or sells alcohol to a minor that they had reason to believe was under 21, and when a person to whom they served or sold alcohol was already visibly intoxicated. The state also has a social host liability law that holds the host of a party responsible for damages that a person causes if that person is too intoxicated as a result of alcohol that they served or watched a person consume in their home. The law does not limit liability to when a host provides the alcohol: if the guest brings their own alcohol or serves it to themselves, the host can still be held responsible.

Host and establishment liability in no way interferes with the fact that the person who was intoxicated is responsible for their own action. The liability can simply be extended to those who did not act to prevent the accident from happening, or who facilitated the individual’s drunken state. These people can be pursued for compensation of medical bills, lost wages, rehabilitation, property damage, or any other expenses caused by the person’s negligent actions. They can also be pursued for punitive damages meant to serve as punishment and warning against similar actions in the future. For more information on pursuing this type of litigation, contact Wallace Law today to set up an appointment.

How Long Do You Have to Be Separated to File for Divorce In New Jersey?

Though deciding to get divorced is never an easy decision, residents of the state of New Jersey can take some comfort in the fact that the state has made divorce a relatively straightforward process, especially as compared to the laws in our neighboring state of Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, couples seeking divorce have to endure months of separation and a process that can go on for years, the state of New Jersey has made it possible to end a marriage quickly and easily if both spouses are motivated for that to happen, and even when a divorce is contentious, the law states that no divorce should take longer than one year from the date that the Complaint for Divorce is first filed. Anybody who has gone through an arduous, years’ long process can tell you that represents a real gift.

If you are considering a divorce, or are about to begin the process, the best thing you can do for yourself is to learn what to expect and what your options are. If you are looking for things to move along as quickly as possible, your best bet is for both of you to agree to a no-fault divorce. This option can lead to a process that takes just a month and a half, from beginning to end. The key to managing your expectations is to know that there are nine acceptable Grounds for Divorce in New Jersey, and each one has a prescribed waiting period that has to pass before you file for divorce. Irreconcilable Differences is the easiest and shortest of the nine: it involves having both parties indicating that the marriage has suffered for a minimum of six months, and if both parties agree to this it means that just under two months need to go by between the time of filing and the time that the divorce is finalized.

As is always the case, the matters that end up taking the most time in a divorce are those that involve how to address child custody and division of assets. The more the couple argues over these issues, the longer the process will take.

If you are a New Jersey resident and need information or representation on the divorce process, contact our office today for compassionate, professional legal guidance.

Most Common Sources Of Food Poisoning From Thanksgiving Dinner

Just in time for Thanksgiving dinner comes an announcement that over 150 people have been sickened by food poisoning from turkey over the last year, and one person has actually died. Making matters worse is the fact that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the salmonella strain that caused the outbreak has not been traced back to its source – and that means that no recalls have been requested and the problem might still exist.

Nobody wants their guests to get sick from eating their food. Not only would it be a terrible memory, but if somebody gets truly ill from food poisoning, you could potentially be held legally and financially responsible if they were to file a premises liability lawsuit against you. To make sure that your holiday (and your guests’ holiday) is happy, here are some tips for avoiding the most common sources of food poisoning from Thanksgiving dinner.

  • One of the first things most people do when they unwrap their holiday turkey and prepare it for cooking is to rinse it out and off. This may seem like a precaution against bacteria but actually is just the opposite. If there are salmonella bacteria on your turkey’s surface, it will be killed during the cooking process if it is cooked correctly. However, rinsing could send the bacteria into the sink or close surfaces, where it could encounter other foods, plates or utensils.
  • If you’re buying a frozen turkey, it is tempting to just let it sit out on the counter at room temperature, especially if you haven’t given yourself enough defrosting time. Room temperature is an invitation to bacteria. If you have the time, leave the turkey in the refrigerator – it takes about 24 hours for every 5 lbs. of weight. If you’re short of time, use the cold-water method where you place the wrapped turkey into a bucket of cold water, constantly replacing the water. This method takes about 30 minutes per pound.
  • You know that handy pop-up timer that the turkey company places in the bird? Forget about it – it’s not a reliable gauge of whether the turkey is cooked through or not. The only accurate method of determining interior temperature is to use a meat thermometer. Your turkey is not cooked (and fear of salmonella not eliminated) until the temperature in the thickest areas reaches at least 165 degrees.
  • Don’t think of the outdoors as a refrigerator or freezer. Even if the air temperature is below 32 degrees, once the sun hits your food, it heats up.
  • Get rid of leftovers after four days.

Enjoy your holidays safely! And if your guests fall ill from food poisoning, contact Wallace Law for help.

What Can New Jersey Learn from Canada’s Decision to Legalize Marijuana?

Canada recently passed a law making marijuana legal throughout the country. In the United States, the question of legalizing marijuana is discussed on a state by state basis, and the state of New Jersey is considering bringing the issue up for a vote in the not-too-distant future. In looking at potential legislation, our lawmakers would be wise to consider the decisions that our neighbors to the north made before passing their law: there are some things that New Jersey can learn from the way that Canada legalized marijuana possession.

One of the biggest lessons to be learned is unfortunately out of the hands of state lawmakers. That lesson has to do with legalizing at the national level (which is what Canada did instead of leaving it to the individual provinces). In the United States, though several states have legalized possession of small amounts of marijuana and the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, the federal government has not taken that step. That means that even if people are smoking illegally in Colorado or Nevada (or eventually in New Jersey), they would still be committing a federal crime. This needs to be addressed.

Another thing that Canada did right in making marijuana possession legal is to impose modest taxes on cannabis. By being reasonable in the tax it imposes, the country has effectively knocked the black market out of the picture. This will go a long way toward eliminating crime, making sure that the product that is sold is safe, and ensuring that the state gets its fair share of sales taxes which can be used for the benefit of the populace. Taxes can also be collected from licensed sellers.

Canada has also linked its age for purchase of marijuana to the age for legally purchasing alcohol. This makes sense, though in Canada their regulations allow the sale of both to those who are 18.

Finally, with the passage of laws legalizing marijuana use, the Canadian government has also made the decision to make it easier for those who have previously been convicted of possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana to seal their conviction records. Doing the same for New Jersey residents who have this type of conviction on their records will go a long way toward eliminating hardships that having these records can cause in terms of employment, housing, licensing and other issues.

If you have any questions about legalized marijuana and how it affects your existing criminal case, contact our office today. 

Is There A Limit to the Amount of Damages from Dangerous Property Claims?

A personal injury lawsuit seeks compensation for damages that a person has suffered as a result of another person’s negligence or wrongful actions. There are many different types of personal injury lawsuits that can be filed, including medical malpractice, automobile accidents, and slip and fall accidents. One area in which compensatory damages can quickly spiral out-of-control is dangerous property claims.

A lawsuit involving a person injured on another person’s property where the injury is determined to be a result of the property being dangerous or poorly maintained is called a premises liability lawsuit. When a person files a premises liability lawsuit, they are able to seek justice in two different ways: compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages reimburse the money that the injured person spent, lost, or is likely to spend or lose in the future as a result of the negligence. By contrast, punitive damages are meant to punish the person for their recklessness or wrongdoing.

Though there is no limit to the amount that a person can be awarded in compensatory damages, the state of New Jersey does limit the amount of punitive damages that a person can be awarded in personal injury lawsuits of all kinds.

Though no amount of money can truly make up for the pain and loss that a person has suffered, compensatory damages are designed to come as close as possible. Compensatory damages can be straightforward calculations of the amount that a person spent or lost: that would include medical expenses, lost wages, and anticipated future expenses and future losses. It can also be noneconomic expenses that are less straightforward including reimbursement for emotional stress, the loss of companionship, or pain and suffering.

Punitive damages are meant to give the injured person justice and to warn the person or entity responsible not to act the same way in the future. They are not always awarded – in fact, they are reserved for behavior that is considered particularly horrible or reckless, or in some cases when the damage that was caused is seen as intentional. In the state of New Jersey, when a person who’s been hurt by another person or entity can be assessed punitive damages, but the amount is limited to either $350,000 or five times the amount of the compensatory damages, whichever is greater.

If you’ve been injured as a result of a property owner’s negligence and you would like to know more about filing a premises liability lawsuit, contact our office today to set up a consultation to discuss our case.

When to Pay the Traffic Fine or Seek Legal Help

Of all the things you could spend your money on, traffic violation fines have to be the absolute worst. There’s nothing quite like the way that you kick yourself if you’ve been pulled over for speeding, and the feeling is even worse if you think that the charge is unwarranted. One way or another, once you’ve gotten a ticket, you have to figure out whether you should just pay the traffic fine — always the easiest answer — or seek legal help and fight the charge. The answer generally depends upon what the violation is and what its impact is going to be.

The first thing that you need to know before making a decision is how the traffic violation is going to affect you.

  • Will it result in your license being suspended or in some other significant way affect your driving record? If, for example, you’re in a profession that requires you to have a clean driving record, could a guilty plea (which is what paying the fine is) impact your ability to get or keep your job?
  • Will it cost more money than you can afford? Though some traffic violations carry insignificant fines, others can add up quickly, making it worthwhile to hire a traffic violation attorney whose fees will be substantially less.
  • Will it raise your insurance rates significantly? Some traffic violations get reported to insurance companies and others don’t. If your violation will end up adding significantly to your insurance bills – or even impact your ability to get insurance – that is a very good reason to have an attorney represent you and try to get the charges dropped or diminished.

If you decide to hire a traffic violations attorney, you will want to provide them with as much information about the incident as possible, especially regarding the circumstances at the time of the traffic violation. Anything that you can point out about obstructed views, traffic patterns, where the officer was situated at the time of your alleged violation or many other factors may provide your attorney with information that can help to fight the charges against you or get them reduced. Depending upon the incident, you may even want to get the names and contact information of witnesses who can speak on your behalf.

Traffic violations attorneys have extensive experience in fighting traffic violations, and their knowledge and expertise can prove extremely valuable when you’re facing significant impact from a traffic violation. To learn more, contact our office today to set up an appointment.

Why You Should Alert Your Child’s School About Your Divorce

Whether you and your spouse are going through a divorce or have already been divorced for years, you may think your marital status is a personal thing, and that there’s no need to share it with outsiders, including your child’s school community. Unfortunately, failing to inform your child’s teacher of your separate living arrangements – as well as your custody schedule – can lead to negative consequences for your child. Let’s look at why you should alert your child’s school about your divorce, and how to manage an assortment of school-related issues.

One of the most important goals for a divorced family should be to ensure stability for your children, and that means that both parents should be apprised of and supportive of school routines and activities. This means that you should both know about homework assignments, issues regarding behavior or interactions with students and teachers, and of special activities like teacher meetings, band and choir concerts, and sporting activities. It also means that teachers need to be kept in the loop. Failing to let teachers know that parents live in separate households can lead to messages not getting to both parents, homework assignments not being completed, and most importantly, teachers not being on the alert for signs that a child needs additional emotional support. It also means that teachers can’t adjust lesson plans to avoid causing your child any unnecessary anxiety or pain.

Though there are plenty of single-parent homes, most teachers will automatically assume that children live in two-parent homes unless they are provided with the information that they need. Just as you would alert a teacher of an allergy or illness, you need to let them know what is going on at home.

In addition to making sure that the school is aware of your situation, parents have an obligation and responsibility to make sure that the other is well aware of all pertinent school communications. Failing to let your ex-spouse know about a school event not only cheats them of being able to participate in your child’s life firsthand but can also lead to painful misunderstandings or disappointments for your child. As in all other areas involving children in a divorce, parents need to remember that all actions taken should include consideration of what is in the child’s best interest.

If you need assistance with how to communicate with your spouse about school activities or your child’s school, we can provide you with the guidance you need. Call us today to set up a consultation with one of our compassionate attorneys.

The Best Apps to Prevent Drinking and Driving

Drinking and driving is widely acknowledged as a societal evil, but it’s also an incredibly easy mistake to make. Whether you’re visiting with friends and have a drink or two too many, are at a company celebration or wedding, or even had just one glass of wine on an empty stomach, getting behind the wheel could end up being both dangerous and illegal. It’s hard to know when you’ve reached the legal limit, but technology has introduced apps that help. Though these each do different things, they all achieve the same goalkeeping you and those with whom you share the road save, as well as helping avoid a DUI charge.

  • DrinkTracker, AlcoDroid, ENDUI

These apps are essentially calculators into which you can program the drinks you have consumed along with your age, height, weight and gender. They then estimate your blood alcohol content in real time. Additional features include providing easy ways to contact friends for rides home, establish trackers of how much you’re consuming over time and how much you’re spending. The downside is that the drinks have to be entered manually – and once you’ve had too much, you may forget to keep adding. ENDUI does offer an additional feature of being able to report drunk drivers from within the app.


This app is strictly in California right now, but there’s a good chance that it will eventually go national. It is specifically for designated drivers and offers them special deals and discounts at specific locations which can be found via the app. It also helps designated drivers who fall down on the job to get a ride from Lyft, Uber or Curb.

  • Breathometer and Alcohoot

These apps work with an external device and act as pocket breathalyzer tests. They tell you your BAC and how long it will be before it returns to zero, they provide a way to get a ride from friends, a taxi, or Uber and provide nearby locations that are open, including hotels if you need a place to sober up. Alcohoot even predicts how you’re going to feel the morning after.

  • Stearclear

This app will summon a professional driver to take you and your vehicle home safely. It also offers drive-by-the-hour services, taxi or black car services.

If you’ve been charged with driving under the influence, you need more than an app – you need an experienced attorney who can provide you with a smart, aggressive defense. Contact us today to set up an appointment to discuss your case.

Can You Sue a Sunscreen Company for your Burn?

Most people think of sunburn as an uncomfortable mistake and a minor problem, but it can be a significant personal injury. People have required hospitalization as a result of 2nd and 3rd-degree burns, and it’s well known that sun exposure leads to aging of the skin and to skin cancer. Though the best protection against these risks is to stay out of the sun entirely, doing so is often considered unreasonable. Instead, we are advised to protect ourselves through the use of protective clothing, hats, and most importantly, sunscreen. But what happens if the sunscreen that we purchase and apply doesn’t deliver on its promise? Can you file a personal injury lawsuit against a sunscreen company if you get a sunburn?

The answer is yes. When a sunscreen is defective and doesn’t deliver on its promise of protection, you can hold its manufacturer responsible. It has happened in the past and is likely to happen again in the future.

The most notable instance of a sunscreen manufacturer being sued over its product’s failure is probably the case of Jessica Alba’s The Honest Company. The actress built a reputation by marketing a variety of products touted as being safe, and natural, free of toxins and chemicals. But shortly after its sunscreen reached the consumer market, people started complaining of severe burns that people suffered despite using the product. Though the company advertised that its lotion would stay on through 80 minutes of water exposure and that it would protect against UV rays, that turned out to be incorrect. As a result, many people – and children – got hurt.

In another personal injury class action lawsuit filed against five sunscreen manufacturers, people claimed that they had purchased the products based on the companies’ promise that they protected against UVA rays, when in fact they didn’t. They only protected against UVB rays.

Both of these suits were product liability lawsuits, filed against manufacturers who plaintiffs claimed had sold them defective products. Other sunscreen-related personal injury lawsuits have been filed against those who were responsible for applying the important protection to children.

Whatever the situation you find yourself in, if you believe that a personal injury you suffered was a result of negligence, you may be entitled to file a lawsuit seeking damages. For more information, contact our office today to set up a time for a free consultation.

What Fireworks are Legal in Pennsylvania?

If you live in the state of Pennsylvania, you may have noticed a big shift in the number of fireworks you heard being set off in your neighborhood. If so, you can thank Governor Tom Wolf and members of the state’s legislature, which passed a new state law in October allowing Pennsylvania residents access to fireworks that were previously forbidden to in-state residents. The broadened list of fireworks that state residents are permitted to purchase and set off are sold with a 12 percent tax that will support the state’s emergency services. The tax is expected to provide the state with an additional $9 million in revenue. Many residents are concerned that the additional money in the state’s coffers will be offset by the number of residents who suffer personal injuries.

The state previously only permitted out-of-state customers to purchase fireworks such as bottle rockets and other devices that are fired into the air, while state residents were only able to purchase sparklers and items that were affixed to the ground. Fireworks sellers operated by using separate areas of the store for in-state and out-of-state customers, but that is now a thing of the past. It is still illegal for display-grade fireworks including M-80s, M-100s cherry bombs and quarter and half sticks to be sold to consumers.

The state of Pennsylvania is far from alone in changing their laws regarding fireworks sales. There has been a dramatic growth in sales of the explosive items over the last 18 years, as more and more states have jumped on the bandwagon to add fireworks’ sales taxes to their budgets.

The state still has certain laws on the books that are meant to prevent injury, though it is uncertain what impact those laws actually have on consumers. The state restricts sales to those who are 18 and older and requires that anybody shooting off fireworks has permission from the owner of the property on which they are being fired. It is illegal to light fireworks inside of a building or a motor vehicle, as well as within 150 feet of an occupied structure.

As more and more people are able to purchase these explosives, it is expected that there will be a higher number of personal injuries resulting from negligence. If you or someone you love was injured by fireworks, contact our office today to set up a time to discuss your rights.