Slip-and-fall accidents are unpredictable and can occur at any time, in any location, and to anyone. Wet floors in a store, uneven paving on the sidewalk, or poor lighting in hallways could all too easily be the cause of a fall.
Slip-and-fall incidents are a common occurrence, affecting millions of people every year across the nation. These accidents often lead to injuries that may need medical attention.
If you ever find yourself in such a situation, it is essential to understand who might be the liable parties in your premises liability case. Understanding the premises liability laws that govern slip and fall cases can help you recover compensation.
Understanding MA Slip-and-Fall Accidents
A slip-and-fall accident occurs when someone loses his or her footing, falls, and sustains injuries on someone else’s property. This is often caused by unsafe or dangerous conditions such as wet floors, uneven surfaces, or inadequate safety measures.
In Massachusetts, property owners are legally responsible for maintaining their property. They have to ensure the premises are in a reasonably safe condition to prevent accidents. This responsibility is not optional.
Rather, it is an obligation that falls under premises liability law. So, if someone falls and gets injured due to a property owner’s negligence, the property owner may be liable for the resulting damages.
The responsibilities of owners under premises liability law specifically entail:
- Regularly inspecting the property to identify and address potential hazards
- Blocking off or clearly marking dangerous areas to warn visitors
- Implementing safety measures, such as adequate lighting and signage, to warn visitors of potential dangers
- Being aware of and following all relevant building codes and safety regulations
Determining Liability in a Slip-and-Fall Accident
When a business or property owner fails to take care of all known hazards, he or she should be held accountable for that negligence. However, slip-and-fall cases are not always as clear-cut as accident victims would hope.
If you are ever injured in a slip-and-fall accident and wish to sue, you need to prove that the property owner was negligent.
Here are several factors to consider when proving negligence in a Massachusetts premises liability case:
- Negligence: Negligence can include failing to repair known hazards, to warn visitors about potential dangers, or to conduct routine maintenance checks.
- Comparative negligence: In some premises liability cases, the injured party may also share some responsibility for the accident. In Massachusetts, if you are partially at fault for the incident, your compensation may be reduced. However, as long as your percentage of fault is less than that of the at-fault party, you can still recover damages.
- Notice of Hazard: There are two types of notice, known as “actual” and “constructive.” Actual notice means the owner or their employees knew about the hazard. Constructive notice means they should have known about it through reasonable inspections.
- Foreseeability: The foreseeability of the accident is another crucial factor. Property owners can be held responsible for accidents if a hazard was foreseeable and no reasonable steps were taken to prevent it.
Establishing liability in a slip-and-fall case requires that you gather proof that the negligence of the property or business owner directly caused your slip-and-fall accident and subsequent injuries. Taking on this task requires the assistance of an experienced premises liability lawyer.
Your lawyer can review the circumstances of your fall and gather the evidence needed to build your slip and fall case. Property owners often take a premises liability claim from lawyers more seriously than from individuals without legal representation.
Different Property Owners in Premises Liability Cases
In determining property owner liability, it is important to consider where the slip-and-fall incident occurred. The fault for your fall injury depends on whether you fell on private, commercial, or government-owned property. Even then, you may have to go through employees, managers, and departments before you know who to hold responsible for negligence.
Homeowners in Massachusetts have a responsibility to protect visitors by fixing known hazards and defects. Homeowners typically have homeowners’ insurance to cover slip-and-fall incidents. However, unless they intentionally create dangers or act extremely carelessly, they might not be held responsible for injuries to trespassers.
In Massachusetts, businesses such as grocery stores, malls, and hotels must warn customers about potential fall hazards and dangers, even the ones that are not obvious.
If a business does not provide these warning signs and a customer gets hurt, the owner, employees, or maintenance contractor may be held responsible.
Fall incidents are not always an individual’s fault. Sometimes companies can be held responsible. Different people or entities might be liable, including the owner(s), the property lessor, the property lessee, the store employee, and the manager.
Slip-and-fall incidents on public property, such as sidewalks or government-owned buildings, are a bit more complex.
In Massachusetts, government entities have specific rules and regulations governing liability for such accidents, including:
- Sovereign immunity: Government entities are often immune from liability for accidents unless they waive their immunity. Massachusetts has limited or waived sovereign immunity in certain cases, allowing individuals to sue government entities.
- Strict notice requirements: If you wish to sue a government entity, you typically have a limited time frame to notify the entity of your intent to sue. Failing to follow these procedures can result in the dismissal of your case.
If you are involved in a slip-and-fall lawsuit against a public entity, you should consult a lawyer who understands governmental liability.
Contact a Massachusetts Slip and Fall Lawyer Today
If you are injured because a property owner did not fix hazards on their property, you may be well within your rights to seek compensation. You should not have to suffer physically and financially because of someone else’s negligence.
Whether your injuries occurred on public, private, or commercial property, Kiley Law Group is here to fight for you. Our team backed up by four decades of experience, we can help you file a personal injury claim against the liable party.
We understand that suffering injuries due to another’s negligence can drastically change your life. That’s why our team of attorneys works hard to restore your financial peace of mind. Call us today at (888) 437-2584 for a free consultation or fill out the online form.