Slip and Fall on Common Sidewalk: Can a Homeowner's Association be Held Liable?

Homeowner’s Associations beware. In a case recently argued before the New Jersey Supreme Court, a plaintiff asked the Court to overturn lower court rulings that found the plaintiff’s homeowner’s association and contractors the association hired were not liable for failing to keep sidewalks free from ice and snow.

In Qian v. Toll Brothers, the plaintiff alleges she fell on an icy sidewalk in a private residential community where she lives. The lower courts relied on the Supreme Court’s ruling in Luchejko v. Hoboken, 207 N.J. 191 (2011) in dismissing plaintiff’s case. Luchejko re-affirmed the Court’s long-standing position that commercial property owners are responsible for maintaining abutting public sidewalks, but that same liability does not extend to residential properties.

Now, the Court must consider whether the association, which owned the sidewalk in the Village at Cranbury Brook (a non-gated community), and had hired a snow removal contractor to maintain it, is a residential or commercial property owner for purposes of sidewalk liability. Stay tuned.

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