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Are Landlords Liable for Tenant Injuries Caused by Defects on the Property?

Injury Attorneys Protecting Tenants and Landlords in Troy, Sarasota, Albany and all of Upstate New York

calculating cost of tenant injuries

Each year, a number of New York tenants suffer injury as a result of one or more defects in the property that they have rented from a landlord. Sometimes, the injuries are minor; on other occasions, they are significant, resulting in medical bills, lost time from work, and heightened levels of pain and suffering. While New York generally does not impose “strict liability” upon landlords, it does allow recovery of damages in some cases. An injured tenant should consider a number of issues in determining whether he or she has a valid claim against the landlord.

Creation of a Dangerous Condition

New York state (and sometimes local) law requires that landlords keep their properties in good repair and maintain those properties in a reasonably safe condition. Where the landlord creates a dangerous condition that leads to a tenant’s injury, the landlord can be held responsible. For example, if a landlord diverts runoff water in such a fashion that it produces an icy sidewalk, he or she may be liable for resulting slips and falls.

Actual Notice of a Dangerous Condition

In some cases, a dangerous condition can exist that was not actually created by the landlord. If the landlord has actual notice of the dangerous condition, he or she may be liable for ensuing injuries. Proof of notice can be shown in a number of different forms. For example, if a tenant has advised the landlord in writing that a defect exists and it goes unremedied, a court would usually determine that there was sufficient notice. If a tenant can show a prior injury by someone else, that can also supply notice to the landlord.

Constructive Notice of the Condition

Actual notice to the landlord may be excused where the defect is visible and where it has existed for a sufficient period of time that a reasonable landlord should have discovered it and taken corrective action. New York courts have held that a “general awareness” that an unsafe condition might exist does not constitute sufficient notice to the landlord that would support a claim of damages.

Assumption of Risk

While New York law obligates the landlord to take reasonable steps to avoid injury to a tenant, the tenant also has obligations, as well. The Empire State follows the well-established rule that if a person, such as a tenant, is aware of a risk and proceeds to act freely in spite of that risk, he or she assumes the risk that follows. In other words, if the tenant is aware that a railing is loose, he or she can’t be said to complain if leaning against it causes injury. A tenant generally cannot “assume” a hidden risk.

Comparative Negligence

New York premises liability law employs a comparative negligence rule in determining the measure of damages that might be owed by a landlord to an injured tenant. Generally speaking, a tenant is not prevented from recovering damages if he or she is partially responsible. In essence, the court or jury determines the percentage of relative fault and the tenant’s recovery is reduced in proportion to the tenant’s measure of fault. For example, if a jury found that the landlord was 75 percent responsible for the injury and the tenant was 25 percent responsible, the tenant would be allowed to recover 75 percent of his or her damages.

Prompt Investigation of the Incident is Important

Where a premises defect may have caused a personal injury to a tenant or to a tenant’s guest, it is extremely important that the tenant initiate a prompt and thorough investigation of the premises. Unfortunately, most tenants are ill equipped to undertake such an effort. It is advisable to retain the services of a skilled and experienced legal team to handle this task and to begin to collect other evidence that may be helpful in successfully resolving the claim.

E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy: Award-Winning Attorneys in the Greater Capital Region

The personal injury attorneys at E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy have the judgment and experience to handle your premises liability claim. We understand that a serious injury impacts not only the victim, but also the victim’s family and lifestyle. We have the skill, resources, and tenacity to take your case to trial if necessary. We offer compassionate counsel in difficult times.

We are one of the most highly respected law firms in upstate New York and the capital district. We have been representing clients for more than a hundred years; our law practice has stood the test of time. Make the right call. Call us now at (518) 274-5820 or complete our online form. The E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm has an attorney available to assist clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – even on holidays.

James E. Hacker Elected President of Albany County Bar Association

Albany County Bar Association President: James E. Hacker

Jim Hacker, AttorneyIn January 2017, James E. Hacker, Managing Partner of E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy Law Firm, was elected president of the Albany County Bar Association. The Association, which currently has more than 1,200 members, has a long and illustrious heritage. Founded in 1900 by 53 Albany-area attorneys – including distinguished judge and judicial philosopher, Learned Hand – the Association works as its purpose “to promote professional collegiality among the bench and bar; facilitate public service and access to justice for all; and, offer programs, benefits and services to enhance the skills of its members.”

Appellate Moot Court Program, Continuing Education, and Public Service Programs

The Association supports a number of ongoing skills enhancement programs. For example, its Appellate Moot Court Program allows member attorneys who have pending appellate cases to test and hone their oral arguments before a group of experienced colleagues before the attorney has to argue his or her case before an actual appellate panel. Among the first county bar associations in the United States to offer continuing legal education, the Association sponsors a variety of monthly luncheon forums and evening seminars to help its members stay abreast of current legal developments.

An important part of the Association’s work is directed to the public. Its Lawyer Referral Service provides assistance to more than 6,000 clients each year. The Association sponsors a variety of pro bono programs and offers free training sessions on a regular basis. Each year, the Association also sponsors a mock trial competition for high schools students.

Hacker Was “MC” at Annual Court of Appeals Dinner

James E. Hacker served as Master of Ceremonies at the Association’s Annual Court of Appeals Dinner, held February 8, 2017. The dinner, the highlight of the Association, honors the past and present members of the Court of Appeals. The special honoree this year was Judge Leslie Stein, who was appointed in 2015 by Governor Cuomo.

Hacker Among “Best Lawyers in America”

James E. Hacker is a 1981 graduate of Hamilton College and a 1984 graduate of Albany Law School. He is recognized as a “Best Lawyer in America” in the fields of commercial litigation and personal injury. Mr. Hacker serves as a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of Albany Law School and also is the regional vice president of the New York State Trial Lawyers Academy and is a past president of the Capital District Trial Lawyers Association.

Mr. Hacker divides his practice between the areas of commercial litigation and plaintiff’s personal injury. In 2013, he was recognized by Best Lawyers as “Lawyer of the Year” for plaintiff’s personal injury in the Capital District. In 2011, and again in 2014, he was recognized as “Lawyer the Year” in the area of commercial litigation.

Mr. Hacker has represented individuals in cases involving complex product liability issues, medical malpractice, automobile accidents resulting in serious injuries, traumatic brain injuries, spinal damage, burn injuries, and carbon monoxide poisoning.

With respect to commercial litigation, Mr. Hacker represents individuals and corporations with issues involving breach of contract, restrictive covenants, shareholder disputes, and insurance disputes.

E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy: Extensive Knowledge and Experience

The law firm of E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy is one of the most highly respected law firms in upstate New York and the Capital District. Having represented clients now for more than 100 years, we are among the top-rated lawyers in the country, achieving the highest ratings from both client groups and our peers. In fact, E. Stewart Jones and James E. Hacker have each received lifetime achievement awards. They have also been designated as among the Top 100 Attorneys in Upstate New York by America’s Top 100 LLC, a California organization that recognizes the most qualified and accomplished professionals in various fields of practice, including attorneys, doctors, dentists, realtors, accountants, engineers, and architects.

The experienced lawyers from E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy have represented clients from the Greater Capital Region and beyond. Each attorney has specific, extensive experience navigating complex legal issues. Our attorneys are not only skilled and knowledgeable, but also compassionate and sensitive to how disruptive litigation and the legal process can be to your life, your business, and your family. When people think of Albany New York lawyers, they think of Jones, Hacker, and Murphy.

Contact our attorneys today to learn how we may be able to help you. Call us now at (518) 274-5820 or complete our online form. The E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm has an attorney available to assist clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – even on holidays.

Computerized Code and Data: Making an Unauthorized Copy Can be Theft

Business Attorneys Fighting for Data and Code Computer Entry Personnel

Providing Commercial Litigation in Upstate New York Including the Sarasota, Albany and Troy Areas

computerized code

Computer experts sometimes point out that New York law, like that in most other states, lags far behind the changing technology. For example, when it comes to theft and larceny, existing Empire State law clearly covers the improper taking a piece of jewelry. The necklace is there one minute and gone the next – illegally “removed” by the thief. Can that same law apply to copying software code or data? Can the act of copying electronic material be theft, as well?

A recent decision by a New York appellate court involving the alleged “theft” of trading software code belonging to a Wall Street investment bank shows that if the copying is not authorized, it may indeed be theft.

Goldman Sachs Trading Program

The case involved what Goldman Sachs (“Goldman”) said was a theft of important software code related to its trading program. The alleged thief was a former employee who left Goldman to take a similar position with a competitor. On the last day he was at work, the programmer copied code to a hard drive, intending to use it later. The programmer was charged by New York authorities of violating N.Y. Penal Law §165.07, which makes it a crime to make a “tangible reproduction or representation” of secret scientific material “by means of writing, photographing, drawing, mechanically or electronically reproducing or recording.”

Was the Computer Code “Tangible?”

A New York jury convicted the programmer of theft, but he contended that he had taken nothing “tangible” from Goldman. The trial judge agreed, saying the transfer of the source code did not result in anything “tangible” being removed, so it fell outside the theft statute. One January 24, 2017, the appellate court reversed the trial judge and reinstated the guilty verdict. The programmer now faces jail time, but he has appealed the decision to the state’s highest court.

Companies Can Combat Code and Data Theft

Companies should take steps to safeguard the vital software code and data they maintain as part of their business enterprise. Here are three important steps to take to reduce your risk of loss.

Step One: Develop a Data Security Plan

Don’t be the type of business that fails to establish clear standards and communicate them to staff. The “theft” of unguarded data can be devastating, so establish a clearly understood data security plan. Don’t treat this task casually. Gather a team to implement the plan and evaluate the team’s performance in annual HR reviews. Focus particularly on existing employee procedures, recognizing that unlike the programmer in the Goldman case, employees typically copy code and data long before they ever leave.

Step Two: Limit Access to Important Data

Sometimes, code and data gets stolen because of carelessness in establishing access points. Require unique usernames and passwords for each authorized user. Limit access to data based upon a business need to have it. Pay particular attention to employees who work remotely. Require that such access be made via formalized virtual private network links or other safe mechanisms. Restrict the ability of an employee to access the business network with personal laptops and other devices.

Step Three: Initiate and Use Employee Non-Disclosure Agreements

Develop and utilize specific non-disclosure agreements and have one signed by anyone who has access to sensitive or important corporate data and source code. Have any such employee acknowledge in writing that he or she may not use, copy, or access any company data unless done so in compliance with company policies.

E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy: Experts in Business and Commercial Litigation

The law firm of E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy is known across the Capital District, Upstate New York, and statewide for formidable representation in business and commercial litigation. Our experienced trial lawyers handle a diverse range of litigation matters in state and federal courts, including disputes related to commercial trade secrets, breaches of non-disclosure agreements, and other complex business litigation.

Having represented clients for more than 100 years, we are one of the most highly respected law firms in upstate New York and the Capital District. Once we accept your case, we invest all the time and resources necessary to achieve the best possible outcome. Contact our commercial litigation attorneys today to learn how we may be able to help you. Call us now at (518) 274-5820 or complete our online form. The E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm has an attorney available to assist clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – even on holidays.

Older Drivers Are Particularly Susceptible to Injury and Death in Crashes

Personal Injury Attorneys Serving Elderly Drivers Injured in Car Accidents

Providing Legal Representation for Upstate New York Including the Sarasota, Albany and Troy Areas

Older Driver

Compared to other age groups, senior citizens are among New York’s safest drivers. Auto safety experts say this is due to a number of factors, including the fact that seniors tend to observe speed limits and do not drive after drinking. In spite of that safety record, however, seniors are more likely to be killed or injured in auto crashes than any other age group, except teen drivers. According to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), during 2014, more than 5,700 older adults were killed and more than 236,000 were treated in emergency departments for motor vehicle crash injuries. That amounts to 16 older adults killed and 648 injured in crashes on average every day.

Factors Leading to Increased Risk of Death and Injury

A number of factors combine to increase the risk of death and serious injury for senior citizens. For example:

  • Bone fragility in seniors leads to more serious fractures and makes recuperation more difficult
  • Age-related declines in vision may affect some older adults’ driving abilities
  • Roughly 75 percent of drivers age 65 or older report using one or more medications that have potential impact on driving performance
  • Some medical conditions, such as arthritis, make the physical act of driving more difficult and more dangerous
  • Other medical conditions – such as heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions – make medical treatment following an accident more difficult and generally increase the time of recovery for those injured

Safety Steps That Can Be Taken by Seniors

There are steps that can be taken by older adults to increase their chances of staying safe on the road, including:

  • Being mindful of safe following distances behind the vehicle in front
  • Driving defensively
  • Planning the driving route before departure
  • Avoiding distractions within the vehicle, such as eating, cell phone use, and loud music
  • Maintaining a regular exercise program to maintain strength and flexibility
  • Visiting an eye doctor regularly
  • Reviewing medications with a physician so as to understand what effects, if any, they have on driving
  • Driving during daylight hours and in good weather conditions
  • Avoiding rush hour and other congestion periods of the day
  • Utilizing the safest routes for travel (street lights, left turn arrows, and easy parking are important considerations for seniors)

Injured in an Accident?

Have you or a family member been seriously injured in a vehicle crash? At E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy, we understand that a serious accident impacts not only the crash victim, but also his or her entire family. Our injury lawyers understand the complex issues related to personal injury claims. We offer skilled and compassionate assistance during trying times. Our extensive experience allows us to understand the sort of compensation that you are due for damages and for pain and suffering. We also understand the lifetime impact that injury or death can have on your family. Our goal is to get results for you and your family.

The law firm of E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy is one of the most highly respected law firms in upstate New York and the Capital District. We have represented clients for more than 100 years and are among the top-rated lawyers in the country, achieving the highest ratings from both client groups and our peers. Once we accept your case, we invest all the time and resources necessary to obtain the largest settlement or award possible. Each case is unique, and a positive outcome is not guaranteed, but we have a very successful record of winning cases for our clients. Contact our injury attorneys today to learn how we may be able to help you. Call us now at (518) 274-5820 or complete our online form. The E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm has an experienced personal injury and accident attorney available to assist clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – even on holidays.

Can My Doctor Testify Against Me at Trial?

Experienced Attorneys Protecting Patient’s Rights

Serving Troy, Albany, Sarasota and all of Upstate New York

doctor testify against patient in deposition

 

While lab tests, height/weight records, blood pressure charts, and other so-called medical “data” may properly occupy an important part of a patient’s overall health program, most New Yorkers and others would point to an intangible factor that is crucial to a patient’s physical and mental well-being: The relationship of trust that exists between a doctor and his or her patient.

When the patient is involved in litigation, the patient might wonder if the communications he or she disclosed in conferences with a physician can be used in a detrimental way. That is to say, “Can my doctor testify against me at trial?” Often, but not always, the answer is “No.”

Physician-Patient Privilege

New York and most other states view the relationship between physician and patient to be so important, so bound up within a sphere of confidentiality that generally, any communication between a patient and his or her physician is protected from disclosure to others. The communications may not be disclosed by the physician, even if the physician is called to testify. The purpose of the strong privilege is one of public policy: Only by allowing a patient to speak freely with the physician can the latter provide the best and fullest medical treatment possible.

Privilege is Broad

Ordinarily, the physician-patient privilege is quite broad, protecting not only the actual conversations between the patient and the physician, but also the following:

  • Medical documents created in connection with treatment
  • Medical opinions held by the physician
  • Diagnostic information, as well as course of treatment notes

Federal law expands, to some degree, the privilege to include personal information provided to the physician, such as date of birth, social security numbers, etc.

Other Important Elements

The patient-physician privilege does not exist with regard to every communication made to a doctor. Consider the following:

  • The communication must have been made in such a confidential environment. For example, a discussion with the doctor in a busy waiting room, where others are present, is not such an environment that would protect the confidentiality of the statement.
  • The presence of a third person, other than someone working directly as an agent of the doctor (e.g., a nurse or other practitioner) defeats the privilege. Even if the third person is one’s spouse or parent, the confidentiality privilege is breached.
  • The privilege is not absolute. State laws require that some medical information be disclosed for the protection of society (e.g., diagnoses related to some sexually transmitted diseases, gunshots, child abuse, and the like).
  • There must be an actual physician-patient relationship. A statement made to a doctor friend at a cocktail party is not likely protected by the privilege.
  • If you are being examined by a “hostile” physician (i.e., one hired by an opposing party to perform the examination), there is no physician-patient relationship; anything you say can be used against you.

Waiver of the Privilege in Connection with Personal Injury Case

Bear in mind also that in some instances a party who pursues a personal injury claim may be deemed to have waived the physician-patient privilege so far as it is related to the treatment and condition that forms the basis of the claim.

It is the Patient’s Privilege, Not the Doctor’s

Finally, one should bear in mind that the privilege belongs to the patient, not to the physician. That means it can be waived only by the patient. Where there has been no prior waiver, the physician may not disclose personal information or other protected facts and if he or she does so, the physician can be held liable for breach of the important confidential relationship.

E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy: Experienced, Caring Attorneys

Has a physician disclosed information about you to a third party that you feel is privileged? If so, the physician may be liable for damages. The attorneys at E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy are caring, experienced attorneys who can help you determine if you have a valid claim. We have the experience to handle your case and if it is in your interests to settle such a claim, we have the skill, resources, and tenacity to help you recover an appropriate amount of damages. We can also take your case to trial if necessary.

We are one of the most highly respected law firms in upstate New York and the Capital District. We have been representing clients for more than a hundred years; our law practice has stood the test of time. Make the right call. Call us now at (518) 274-5820 or complete our online form. The E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm has an attorney available to assist clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – even on holidays.

Do You Need an Attorney if it is Your First DWI?

Experienced DWI Attorneys Fighting for Your Rights

Legal Representation in Upstate New York Including the Sarasota, Albany and Troy Areas

first dwi

 

There is an all too common misunderstanding about the criminal justice system in New York State when it comes to DWI charges. It’s the notion that if you have been charged with DWI and, if you have no prior alcohol-related conviction, you can proceed in court just as successfully without an attorney.

Sometimes, the misunderstanding comes from another direction. One may think that because the case is pretty much “open and shut,” that one need not spend more money. In other words, the DWI is going to cost enough; why make it worse with having to pay an attorney?

Unfortunately, Many Learn the Hard Way

Many learn the hard way. A DWI charge is a serious matter. Someone charged with such a serious offense faces not only financial issues, but he or she can even be sent to jail.

First DWI is Usually a Misdemeanor

New York is serious about its driving laws. Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a crime, usually a misdemeanor. Even a first conviction results in most, if not all, the following:

  • Substantial fine
  • Mandatory surcharge
  • Revocation of one’s driver’s license
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device in each motor vehicle you own or operate
  • Participation in Drinking Driver Program
  • Possible jail time and probation

For someone charged with aggravated DWI, the situation is even more serious. Fines can be as high as $2,500 and jail terms can be up to one year.

First Conviction Carries With it Other Practical Limitations

While a New Yorker convicted of a DWI offense may qualify for either a conditional license or a hardship license, in either case, one’s ability to drive is severely limited. While those who live in and around Manhattan may be able to get along without a personal means of transportation, those who live in the Greater Capital Region are directly impacted by a loss of driving privileges.

A convicted DWI offender – even following a first offense – also faces an unpleasant surprise when the auto insurance bill arrives. The premium costs for auto insurance can be gravity-defying. A DWI: It’s the offense that keeps on punishing the offender, long after the court date.

DWI Law is Complex

Being charged with a DWI offense in New York is a serious matter, even if it is a first offense. The fines are high and the other penalties are real. One cannot ignore the fact that a judge has the power to send a convicted DWI offender, even for a first offense, to jail. If you have been charged with a DUI or DWI offense, you owe it to yourself to retain the best legal team available. The attorneys at E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy have the judgment and experience to negotiate the best possible plea and to negotiate for a conditional or hardship license, if you qualify.

We are one of the most highly respected law firms in upstate New York and the Greater Capital Region We have been representing clients for more than a hundred years; our law practice has stood the test of time. Make the right call. Call us now at (518) 274-5820 or complete our online form. The E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm has an attorney available to assist clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – even on holidays.

The Serious Consequences of a Misdemeanor Conviction

Upstate New York Defense Attorneys Fighting for Your Rights Following an Arrest

Serving the areas of Troy, Albany, and Sarasota

judge's gavel

 

It happens daily in New York State. A person has been charged with a relatively minor offense. At the time of the “arrest,” the police officer indicated the charge was minor. Since the person charged did not have a criminal record, there’d be nothing to worry about in the long run. That good news is often confirmed when the person discusses the situation with a few friends. They reiterate that with a clean record, you are only facing a fine. They add, “It’s just a misdemeanor. Sure, you’ll be out a few hundred dollars, but after the short experience in court before the judge – no worries.”

Your Friends Are Wrong: There Are Worries

Unfortunately, your friends are mistaken. Indeed, while you didn’t face any real possibility of jail time because you had a clean record, there are a host of other consequences that flow from a misdemeanor conviction. Thinking about those consequences only after the conviction isn’t a good idea. What are the consequences of a misdemeanor conviction?

Financial Impact

In many respects the financial impact of a misdemeanor conviction may be the least severe. That is not, of course, to diminish the hit that a household budget can take when someone has to cough up hundreds (or more) dollars for a fine. Here, your friends have a point, however. Once the fine is paid, the short-term financial implications are behind you. There are other, long-term financial and non-financial implications that need to concern you, however.

Employment Impact

While New York State law prohibits an employer or prospective employer from inquiring and acting adversely upon an applicant’s prior arrests or criminal charges that were terminated favorably, prospective employers are permitted, at least in some instances, to consider your criminal record. They can (and do) perform background checks. With the advent of the Internet, it is easier than ever to get background information about an individual. While New York law protects people with criminal records from being unfairly denied jobs or occupational licenses solely because of their conviction record, if you are in a crowded field of candidates, you may never hear exactly why you didn’t get the job offer. Your criminal record may play at least an intangible part. It is difficult enough in some areas of New York to secure employment. You don’t need a strike against you before you even start.

Remember that while most private employers do not have access to individuals’ rap sheets, they are entitled to use other sources, such as the state Office of Court Administration, to obtain criminal record information.

Impact on Housing

More and more these days, private landlords perform background checks related to housing applicants. Landlords are not permitted to bar all persons with convictions from housing. Yet, if you have a conviction on your record and you also have less than a stellar credit rating, you may be denied housing and never hear that was based on the criminal issue.

Impact to Family

In many instances, there is also a negative impact upon the family of the person convicted of the misdemeanor. Many families are financially vulnerable. The loss of funds required to pay a hefty fine can take a bite out of a family’s finances. That loss can also cause resentment and distrust. There is a tendency among those charged with misdemeanors to think that the legal issue only affects the person charged. That just isn’t true. It affects many persons around the “perpetrator,” particularly if the family is already living at the edge.

Your Case is Unique

While the police in New York may hand out hundreds of citations like yours each month, your case is actually unique. It deserves direct attention and, because of the ramifications of a conviction, it likely deserves the attention that only an experienced attorney can provide. The stakes in any case can be quite high. Talking to an attorney after the fact is never as good as talking to one when there is time to pursue the correct strategy.

If you have been charged with any crime, even one that you think is minor, you owe it to yourself and your family to get all the facts and set a strategy. The attorneys at E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy have the judgment and experience to negotiate the best possible plea, and we also have the skill and tenacity required to take your case to trial if necessary.

We are one of the most highly respected law firms in upstate New York and the Capital District. We have been representing clients for more than a hundred years; our law practice has stood the test of time. Make the right call. Call us now at (518) 274-5820 or complete our online form. The E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm has an attorney available to assist clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – even on holidays.