Articles Tagged with negligence

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ambulance.jpg The concept of a charitable immunity – that charities cannot be sued for negligent conduct – originates from nineteenth century common law, based upon the idea that funds that were otherwise meant to go to charitable causes should not be diverted to pay for legal actions. In 1958, the New Jersey Supreme Court overruled this charitable immunity doctrine. However, shortly thereafter, the New Jersey legislature enacted The Charitable Immunity Act reinstating the charitable immunity to a certain extent.

The Charitable Immunity Act provides in part that nonprofit corporations, societies and associations organized exclusively for religious, charitable or education purposes or their representatives cannot be liable to anyone who suffers as a result of a charitable organization’s representatives’ negligence if they would otherwise benefit from the acts of the organization. Therefore, in order to qualify for the charitable immunity, and therefore avoid suit, the organization must have been promoting its exclusively religious, charitable, or educational purpose to the plaintiff who was a beneficiary of it’s religious, charitable or education efforts.

The idea is that the person who the charitable organization was trying to help cannot then sue the charitable organization for negligence in it’s efforts to aid that person. However, a Charitable Immunity does not insulate an organization from suit if the wrongful act was willful, intentional, reckless, or even grossly negligent.
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Many people in New Jersey ask, “I had a small party at my house and one of my guests drank alcohol and later got into a car accident, am I liable?” New Jersey homeowners also ask, “Can I get in trouble serving alcohol to a minor?” The short answer to both is yes.

In recent years society has become less tolerant of drunk driving and underage drinking, with many organizations taking on active roles in politics resulting in the passage of stringent laws related to alcohol. New Jersey is no exception. There is a strong public policy in New Jersey against serving minors and intoxicated adults.

First, hosts in New Jersey should be aware to never serve minors any alcohol. In New Jersey serving alcohol to a minor is disorderly persons offense and, depending on the circumstances, can also be a more serious criminal offense of endangering the welfare of a minor.

Further, in 1987 New Jersey passed a law on “social host liability,” making a host liable for injuries to a third-party for a guest’s actions if the host serves a guest, twenty-one years of age or older, alcohol when that person is “visibly intoxicated.” Therefore, if you serve alcohol in your home you should be aware of signs of intoxication, and, if they exist, you should immediately stop serving any “visibly intoxicated” person alcohol.
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