Posts tagged with "premises liability"

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Premises Liability Law in Massachusetts: Determining Who’s at Fault

Gravity works and things happen. We all know that, so we aren’t surprised when an injury occurs because of a slip and fall event. Sometimes gravity gets a bit of an assist in slip and fall events, however. This is why landlords and/or tenants are sometimes held responsible under the law of premises liability.

This means that someone falling on a property can blame gravity without question, but blame can also fall to the landlord and/or tenants, depending on the facts of the incident. The wise course of action is obvious: have your personal injury lawyer on speed dial if you’re a landlord or tenant.

Premises Liability Law

“Premises liability” holds the owners of properties and the residents living there liable for accidents occurring on the property. Landlords and tenants may be liable for injuries caused by a slip and fall, or other type of accident, on the premises which you own and/or occupy.

When an incident occurs and legal action begins as a result, one of the first steps is determining who’s at fault for the accident occurring. Under Massachusetts premises liability laws, injured parties can make legal claims for monetary damages if the event occurred as a result of a hazardous defect or situation on your real property.

Anyone who owns property in Massachusetts must maintain that property in a reasonably safe condition for lawful visitors. When an accident happens or a slip and fall incident occurs, certain conditions must apply in order to bring a lawsuit. Anyone filing a lawsuit against a property owner must provide proof that the owner had a duty to provide reasonable care, that the owner breached that duty and that an injury resulted because of it.

That’s not to say that the property owner is automatically faulted when a fall or injury occurs. The law recognizes that a normal part of daily life is occasionally dropping or spilling things. A property owner may not necessarily garner blame for not cleaning up a spill immediately or instantly picking something up. The law also recognizes that grounds shift over time, creating uneven areas that take time to rectify.

Property owners are also not at fault when someone trips or slips on something that an ordinary person could reasonably expect to find there, such as a drainage grate or a concrete parking bumper. These things are an expected encounter in a modern urban area and ordinary people should anticipate their presence, expect to see them and avoid them.

In short, we’re all expected to look where we’re going.

Determining Who’s at Fault

Every state has its own laws and procedures that determine liability when an injury happens. The focus of the law may be on the property, its condition at the time of the incident and the activities of the owner and the injured party. Or, the law may center around the status of the injured person in determining liability.

Determining who is responsible may hinge on one or more of the following:

  • The visitor’s legal status. One of the following labels may be applicable: invitee, licensee, social guest or trespasser.
  • The actions of the visitor and the owner, as well as the condition of the property at the time of the incident.
  • Is the injured party a child or a trespasser?
  • Could “shared fault” rules be applicable in an injury event?
  • Rules specifically governing landlords.

In Massachusetts, the injured party has the option of filing an insurance claim against the property owner’s insurance carrier or taking the case to court by filing a personal injury lawsuit. While there are a number of laws and legal rules in Massachusetts that can impact litigation, there are two main legal points to consider before filing your lawsuit.

First, there is a statute of limitations deadline for filing litigation in a slip and fall occurrence. Meeting this deadline is imperative before moving forward with your case.

Second, Massachusetts has “shared fault” rules. This means a ruling that you bear some amount of responsibility for the accident may impact your right to recover monetary compensation for damages.

Statute of Limitations for Slip and Fall in Massachusetts

The civil court system of Massachusetts puts a limit on the amount of time allowed to pass before you forfeit your right to bring a lawsuit into court. Your personal injury attorneys in Boston or other cities can explain the statute of limitations that applies to your specific type of case.

The important point to understand is that trying to file a slip and fall lawsuit after the statute of limitations deadline date will almost certainly end in a dismissal of your case. The property owner or landlord you’re filing against will be quick to point out to the court that you are past the deadline date. When this happens, expect the property owner’s motion to dismiss to be swiftly granted.

The slip and fall statute of limitations in Massachusetts is the same as most laws governing personal injury cases in general. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 260 section 2A places a time limit of three years within the date of the incident for filing a slip and fall accident lawsuit.

It is also required that the property owner or landlord receive notice when you intend to pursue a claim under premises liability laws. There is a limit on the time allowed for this. Such notice is generally required within 30 days of the event.

 

Contact us

At the Boston law firm of Colucci Colucci Marcus & Flavin, PC, our attorneys will help our clients recover the maximum possible compensation for their injuries. For a free initial consultation with one of our professional and experienced personal injury lawyers, call (617) 698-6000, or contact us online via our email form.

No lawsuit can happen without these three components, no matter how terrible the conduct of the people involved.

No matter how outrageous a defendant’s conduct may be, there’s one thing you can never sue for:

Picture this: A person is walking down the sidewalk, enjoying a warm Spring day, when out of nowhere a drunk driver hops the curb and strikes them over from behind. The pedestrian flies through the air, lands on his feet and finds himself to be completely unharmed. A miracle occurred, as most people would have been permanently injured or killed.

On what grounds can that pedestrian, unharmed only by a stroke of luck, sue that driver, who clearly acted negligently and was at fault for what happened.

The answer is, none. There is no chance of a lawsuit here. The pedestrian does not have a case.

Why? Because you can’t sue for what could have happened, only what did happen. In this case, no one was injured.

Lawsuits aren’t some kind of bad luck lottery ticket, where people profit off of their own misfortune. No, personal injury lawsuits are about compensating people for their suffering and to help them adjust to life-changing events.


The three elements of a lawsuit

A lawsuit requires liability, causation, and damages. In this example, the driver was liable for what happened as he got behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated, which is a clear case of negligent behavior. He is also the one who caused the pedestrian to be struck, it wasn’t a faulty steering wheel or other mechanical problem. Both of those elements are required for a case, but so is damages. In this example, there were no damages as no one was injured.

Sometimes people say things like “I could have been killed.” They rightly find themselves shocked by how terribly things could have gone because of someone else’s bad behavior. Those issues shouldn’t be ignored. There may be some kind of legal consequence that will fall on the person who caused that problem. However, a lawsuit is not the solution for things that could have happened but didn’t.

We are not scared to take on difficult premises liability cases

Many people do not fully grasp the reach and scope of premises liability lawsuits. We all understand that if you are injured at another person’s house, they can be held liable for your injuries, but did you know that the same can be said for almost any property? Anything from amusement parks to public pools to retail stores can be liable for injuries that you sustain on the property as long as negligence on the part of the property owner contributed to the injury.

Of course this leaves the significant problem of proving the owner’s role in the circumstances of your injury. You cannot simply suffer an injury on someone else’s property and make them pay for it. It is your responsibility as the victim to prove that there was a clear and present danger on the property that the owner could reasonably have been expected to know about. You must also prove that the owner did not make an effort to fix the problem or warn others about the danger.

For many accidents, providing this proof can be difficult. Accidents happen very quickly, and most victims are understandably concerned about their well-being, which hampers their ability to focus on environmental factors that could have contributed to the accident. But we have experience handling premises liability cases in Massachusetts.

We understand how difficult it can be to recall all the factors of an accident, and how hard it can be to prove that the negligence of the owner contributed to your injury. Our premises liability webpage will give you more information about our history, including how we can take on your case even if you were denied by other firms. We pride ourselves on tackling difficult cases and using creative methods to prove the circumstances of an accident well after the accident occurred.

Faulty smoke detectors can lead to injury

When most people think of premises liability issues, they imagine slipping and falling on someone else’s property. While such injuries are certainly among the most common types of premises liability, they are not the only types. Dangerous or negligent property conditions can lead to all manner of hazardous conditions or health risks, such as head injuries or injuries from fire, as well as burn injuries or smoke damage to lungs.

Fire injury may not seem like a great risk to most people, but there are many property conditions that can lead to a fire such as an electrical surge, overheating appliances or another person leaving a candle or fire unattended. Even though most of us are aware of these risks, we do not generally concern ourselves with them because we have different tools in place to minimize the risks. Surge protectors help to keep our electric wires and cords from catching fire, and smoke detectors help us to notice fires before it is too late.

If these tools fail due to a defect or being improperly installed by a landlord, you could be compensated for any injuries you suffer because of a fire. If you live in an apartment for example and the apartment managers or maintenance workers fail to properly install the smoke detector, you could be entitled to compensation for their negligence. If the smoke detector is properly installed, but still fails to notify you of a fire hazard because the product is defective, you could also be entitled to compensation.

No matter what type of injury you suffer, if you suffer it on someone else’s property or due to someone else’s negligence, it is worth consulting with an attorney about your legal options. Successfully proving that someone else was responsible for your injury could lead to compensation for the injury. If you have been injured on someone else’s property in Massachusetts, please visit our webpage to learn how we can help you file a claim.

Understanding animal bites on another’s property

In many premises liability instances, an injury occurs on the property of a friend or a loved one, mainly because these are generally the circumstances in which you will find yourself on someone else’s property. A pleasant lunch meeting may end in tragedy, however, if an accident suddenly occurred that caused you an injury. If that injury could have been avoided, then the property owner may be liable for your injuries, and you could be compensated at their expense.

One such way in which you could suffer an unexpected injury would be if you are bitten by an animal. If the friend has a pet, and that pet bites you, you could file a premises liability lawsuit to be compensated for your injuries. The important thing in such a case, however, is to prove that the property owner should have known or reasonably expected that the animal would bite and taken steps to warn you or prevent the injury from occurring.

The unfortunate thing about suffering an injury on a friend’s property is that you may be hesitant to file a claim. After all, nobody wants to cause financial harm to their friend by filing a lawsuit against them. It may help you to learn, then, that it is usually not the property owner who pays for such an injury.

In most instances, when an animal is on someone’s property and bites another person, the owner’s insurance will pay for the damages. This means that renter’s insurance, homeowner’s insurance or car insurance will likely be handing out your compensation following a successful claim. If you live in Massachusetts, and you have been injured by a dog bite, consider consulting with an attorney to learn more about your rights.

Premises liability is more than slipping and falling

When most people talk about premises liability cases, they are usually talking about slip-and-fall injuries that occur on another person’s property. These slip-and-fall injuries are usually caused by dangerous property conditions such as stairs without handrails or slippery puddles of water. Such injuries are arguably the most common type of premises liability injury, but they are by no means the only type of premises liability injury. The fact is that any injury caused by a dangerous and/or avoidable property condition can qualify as premises liability.

It is also important to remember that these injuries do not have to happen at a home in order to qualify as premises liability cases. For example, an equipment malfunction at a theme park can cause serious injury, and because such an injury was caused by the dangerous property condition of defective equipment, you could file a claim against the park owners. Landlords can also be held accountable for injuries if they could have made a stronger effort to prevent the injury. If you suffered lung damage inhaling smoke that you didn’t know about because of a defective smoke detector, your landlord could be liable.

The last thing you want to do is pay for an injury that was caused by another person’s negligence. This is why the law protects victims of such injuries, allowing them to be compensated for injuries with a successful lawsuit.

If you have been injured on someone’s property, and you believe that your injury could have been avoided, then we may be able to help you. Massachusetts residents are encouraged to visit our premises liability website to learn more about premises liability cases and find out how we can help with legal claims. While you’re there, you can set up a free consultation and begin building your case to get the compensation you deserve.

Premises liability is more than slip and fall accidents

Whenever we speak of premises liability cases, we often refer to them as slip and fall accidents. This is easier for most people to understand, and because such accidents seem to be heard of and spoken of more often than other premises liability claims, one may suspect they are fairly open-and-shut. However, it is important to remember that there is more to premises liability cases than slipping at someone’s house and banging your head.

Premises liability claims do not only occur in residential areas or homes; they can occur on any premises in which there is a negligent property factor that contributed to an injury. This can include injury due to unexpected smoke inhalation that could have been avoided if the premises had a properly functioning smoke detector, for example. Even animals that cause injury to visitors can qualify as a premises liability claim if proper warning was not issued about the dangers of the animal.

These are only a few examples of what kinds of issues a premises liability case could deal with, and you can find even more examples at our premises liability website. While you are there, take a moment to look over our perspective on premises liability cases-each and every one of which we treat seriously-and see how you can contact our law firm.

If you live in the Boston, Massachusetts area, and you have been injured on someone else’s property, please consider scheduling a free consultation with us to discuss the aspects of your case. Whether it involves investigation or accident reconstruction, you can rest assured that we will use every resource to ensure that you get the compensation you deserve.

What is Massachusetts’ statute of limitations for personal injury?

Injuring yourself on another person’s property is usually not a serious issue, especially if the injuries suffered are minor issues such as cuts or bruises. However, even minor slip-and-fall accidents can lead to serious injury if the victim lands wrongly or their head strikes the floor. In such a scenario, the victim may require extensive medical attention which could become a serious financial burden. If you are close with the person on whose property you injured yourself, you may struggle with the decision of whether or not to file a suit.

It can be hard to file a lawsuit against a friend, especially if the injury was an accident that nobody could have predicted. However, many accidents that occur on someone else’s property are the result of negligent property conditions, and the injuries could have been avoided if the property owner had taken the proper precautions. You may choose not to file a claim when you are first injured, but if the injury causes issues later on, and you cannot afford the medical bills, you may not have a choice.

Unfortunately, if you wait too long to file a claim, you might not be able to file a claim at all. Each state has a statute of limitations which outlines the general time frame in which someone can file a lawsuit for a specific incident in which a person feels that they have been wronged. The Massachusetts statute of limitations for injury to person is three years.

This means that three years after an incident that causes you an injury occurs, you will have a much harder time filing a successful lawsuit, even if your claim is strong. This is why it is important to act quickly when you injure yourself on someone else’s property.

Premises liability cases can be difficult to prove

We often talk about premises liability strictly within the context of accidental personal injury, such as slipping and falling and suffering broken bones or bruises. It may surprise you to learn that this is not the only applicable scenario of premises liability law. Being bitten by an aggressive dog, striking an obstacle that couldn’t be seen due to low visibility, suffering injury at an amusement park, all of these issues could fall under the umbrella of premises liability depending on the circumstances.

Ultimately, premises liability law refers to any personal injury sustained as the direct result of an unsafe property condition which you were unaware of. This could include obvious things like falling through a rotted wooden staircase, but it could also extend to being injured in a fire that you could have avoided if the smoke detector had been working properly.

Because the nature of premises liability claims is so wide and varied, it can often be difficult to prove your claims. After all, you cannot sue someone if you have a moment of clumsiness and happen to fall on your own. This is why it is important to enlist the aid of an attorney who is familiar with premises liability law in your area.

Boston residents who believe they have a valid premises liability claim are encouraged to visit our webpage to find out more about premises liability, as well as how we can help you prove your claims. Modern technology has given our society access to technology that can make it easier to prove these difficult claims. For example, by recreating the circumstances of an accident and examining it from different angles, you may be able to prove beyond a doubt that there were dangerous property conditions that contributed to your injury.

Are you liable if someone is hurt trespassing on your land?

Many homeowners in Massachusetts take great pride in keeping their homes in good condition. After all, if you have guests, the last thing you want is for them to be injured on your property. But what happens if someone strays onto your land without your permission. If they come to harm, can you end up in legal trouble?

Under premises liability laws, if you are aware that trespassers are likely to come onto your property, you may be considered to have a responsibility to warn them of hazards. This could be done by signposting and marking out the dangerous area. However, this only applies to conditions that you have put in place or that you maintain. Furthermore, you are less likely to be required to signpost it if it is an obvious danger.

The rules are slightly different when it comes to children. In these cases, the difficulty of removing a hazard or protecting children from it must be weighed against its potential risk of causing injury or death. As with trespassers, if you know children could enter your property, you must provide warning of any artificial conditions that may harm them.

Of course, this is also useful to bear in mind if you are injured on someone else’s property, or even if you are injured in a public place. If you come to harm as a result of someone else’s failure to maintain an area, or to identify its dangers, you may be able to file a premises liability claim. An attorney can help you evaluate your situation and may be able to assist you in pursuing remuneration for your injuries.