If you have been injured on someone else’s property, were you injured because of the property owner’s negligence? If so, can you be compensated? Can a premises liability law firm help?
Massachusetts landlords, homeowners, businesses, and local governments are legally obligated to make sure that their properties are reasonably safe for employees, customers, and other visitors.
WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS IF YOU’RE INJURED ON SOMEONE’S PROPERTY?
If you are injured in this state, and if you can prove that you were injured because of a property owner’s negligence, you are entitled by law to full compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and all other related losses and damages.
If you are the person who has suffered a personal injury or injuries because of a property owner’s negligence, you’ll need to have an experienced Boston premises liability attorney explain how the law applies in your individual circumstances.
You’ll need to make that call at once, as soon as you’ve been treated by a doctor or another healthcare professional.
WHAT INJURIES ARE THE TYPICAL “PREMISES LIABILITY” INJURIES?
Slip-and-fall accidents – the most common kind of premises liability accidents – can cause traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, back, neck, and head injuries, contusions, broken bones, and other severe injuries.
Every year in Massachusetts, thousands are injured, many of them seriously, from tripping or slipping and falling because of:
1. wet floors
2. dilapidated or uneven stairs
3. sidewalks or pavement that’s cracked, uneven, or slippery due to ice or oil
4. poor lighting – particularly in staircases and parking areas
5. curled-up carpeting, rugs, or floor mats
6. cluttered hallways, walkways, or aisles
As you can probably guess, the majority of slip-and-fall injuries are suffered by the elderly.
HOW CAN A PREMISES LIABILITY LAWYER IN BOSTON HELP YOU?
If you are injured by negligence in this state, you are entitled to compensation, but winning compensation may not be easy. You’re not just handed a reimbursement check, even if you’re entitled to one.
Instead, you’ll need to have a reputable Boston premises liability attorney represent you and advocate on your behalf. Keep reading, and you’ll find out what you need to prevail with a premises liability claim in this state.
Common sense tells us that a property owner cannot possibly be responsible for every conceivable accident that could happen on his or her property, so the word “reasonable” is prominent in premises liability law.
For example, if a hazard injures someone on a property, did the property owner know and have a “reasonable” amount of time to repair or clean up the hazard? It’s an important question.
If someone spills juice in a supermarket and you slip on the wet floor twenty minutes later, the supermarket is probably liable, but if you slip only twenty seconds later, the supermarket may not be liable.
WHAT IS THE AIM OF PREMISES LIABILITY LAW?
Property owners are required by law to take “reasonable” measures to keep a property free from hazards and dangerous conditions. Premises liability law aims at balancing a property owner’s reasonable legal obligations with an injury victim’s own responsibility to be cautious and safe.
How do the courts in Massachusetts achieve that balance? While every case has its own particular details, generally speaking, to win compensation for a premises liability claim, an injury victim must prove that one or more of these conditions existed when the injury occurred:
1. The property owner or manager should have known of the hazard because a “reasonable” owner in the same situation would have known about and repaired the condition.
2. The property owner or manager knew about the hazard but failed to repair it.
3. The property owner or manager was directly responsible for the hazard.
Although property owners in Massachusetts may not be able to quote the law, they are generally aware of their obligation to keep properties “reasonably” safe.
WHAT QUESTIONS ARE ADDRESSED IN A PREMISES LIABILITY CASE?
Therefore, most premises liability claims focus on what an owner “should” have known and whether or not the owner took “reasonable” action. Usually, the two central questions in premises liability cases are:
1. When did the hazard emerge and how long did it persist before an injury occurred?
2. Did the property owner have a reasonable period of time to fix the condition?
When an owner learns about leaky plumbing or an uneven sidewalk – or any other potential hazard – the owner may need a couple of days to schedule repairs. Until the repairs are complete, warning signs should be posted.
HOW DO PROPERTY OWNERS DEFEND AGAINST LIABILITY CLAIMS?
However, if you are injured and you bring legal action against a property owner, that owner may try to toss the responsibility for your personal injury or injuries back at you. When a premises liability claim is disputed, a property owner may offer one of these defenses:
1. The injury victim wasn’t paying attention to the surroundings.
2. The injury victim was in a restricted area or was in fact trespassing.
3. The hazard was marked with warning signs and yellow cones.
4. An average “reasonable” person would have avoided what was obviously a hazard.
Most premises liability claims in our state are settled out-of-court before a courtroom trial can begin. If your own case cannot be resolved privately, a trial will determine if the property owner had or did not have a “reasonable” opportunity to repair the hazard that injured you.
WHEN SHOULD YOU SEEK AN ATTORNEY’S HELP?
If you suffer an injury on someone else’s property in Massachusetts, seek medical treatment at once. If someone else’s negligence was responsible for your personal injury or injuries, after you obtain medical treatment, speak at once with a Boston premises liability lawyer.
This state’s statute of limitations for premises liability lawsuits is three years. In most cases, this three-year period begins on the date of your injury. If you suffered a latent injury that was not initially detected, the three-year period may not begin until the “discovery date.”
Don’t wait three years. If you’re injured because a property owner was negligent after you’ve been seen by a healthcare provider, have your rights and options explained right away by a premises liability law firm. A good lawyer’s help is your right.
Eric J. Parker, the Managing Partner of Parker Scheer LLP, has over 30 years’ experience representing victims in complex personal injury cases. He is active in many legal associations and has won many awards for performance and principles. Eric believes in giving back to the community and supports young scholars and law students by acting as faculty and mentor to them.