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Massachusetts Premises Liability Law: How to Recover Damages and Prove Fault?
Slip and fall accidents and other similar incidents are so common in Massachusetts that many victims – often incorrectly – end up blaming themselves for what happened, when, in reality, the property owner or landlord should be held responsible under the law of premises liability in Massachusetts.
Each year, slip and falls account for over 8 million emergency room visits across the U.S., according to the National Floor Safety Institute. Sure, a property owner cannot be blamed for all injuries on their property, but a large percentage of slip and falls, dog bites, assaults, and construction site accidents are caused by the property owner’s negligent act or careless omission to act.
Determining which party is at fault in the event of a slip and fall accident is a rather complicated process, which is why experienced Massachusetts premises liability lawyer from The Law Offices of Richard Mucci provides a free consultation to victims who have been injured on someone else’s property and have no idea what to do next.
In our today’s blog post, we’re going to discuss the basics of premises liability law in Massachusetts, how fault is determined in the event of an injury on another private or public entity’s property, and how you can pursue compensation for your premises liability injury.
Premises Liability Law in Massachusetts: The Basics
Under Massachusetts law, premises liability holds owners, occupiers, renters, and managers of properties liable for accidents occurring on their property, but only as long as the injured party can demonstrate evidence that the owner, occupier, renter, and/or manager caused the injury or failed to take reasonable precautions to prevent the accident.
Massachusetts premises liability law allows victims of slip and fall accidents and other accidents and incidents occurring on someone else’s properties to make legal claims to recover monetary damages.
Typically, the injured party is required to prove that the property owner (a) caused the hazardous condition that led to the injury, or (b) failed to remedy the hazard in a timely manner upon discovery or through regular inspection of the premises.
How to Recover Damages in a Massachusetts Premises Liability Case?
Establishing liability in any premises liability case can be tough, especially if you do not know how Massachusetts laws work. Anyone who owns, controls, occupies, manages, or rents property in Massachusetts has a duty to maintain and keep that property in a reasonably safe condition for all guests, visitors, and customers.
When a guest, visitor, or customer gets injured in a slip and fall accident on the premises of another homeowner, business entity, or government entity, specific conditions must apply in order to pursue a legal claim.
When filing a lawsuit, the victim must demonstrate proof that the owner or landlord owed the injured party a duty to provide reasonable care, that duty was breached, and the injury occurred because of the breach.
A property owner is not automatically at fault for all types of injuries and accidents that occur on their property. For example, a property owner and his/her employees cannot be reasonably expected to instantly pick things up and clean the floor to prevent harm to their visitors.
However, when a dangerous condition exists for an unreasonably long time that would allow any other reasonably prudent property owner or employee on that property to notice the danger and remedy it, then the injured party may have a right to seek compensation.
How to Prove the Property Owner’s Fault?
A variety of factors apply when determining fault in a premises liability case in Massachusetts, including but not limited to the unreasonableness of the hazard at the time of the incident, the actions of the owner and injured party, and the type of property where the accident took place.
The following factors will be considered to determine liability in a Massachusetts premises liability claim:
- The injured party’s legal status (invitee, licensee, social guest, trespasser);
- Whether the property owner, occupier, renter, landlord, or manager owed the visitor a duty of care;
- The actions of both the owner and injured party;
- The condition of the property at the time of the incident;
- Whether the hazard would be obvious and noticeable to another reasonably prudent visitor;
- How long the hazardous condition was present prior to the incident;
- Whether the injured party was warned about the hazard; and
- Whether “shared fault” is applicable in this particular case.
However, our skilled Massachusetts premises liability attorney warns that a property owner cannot be held liable for all injuries on the property, especially when the injury occurs due to a “hazard” that an ordinary person could have reasonably anticipated to avoid harm.
How Much Time Do You Have to File a Claim in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts law imposes a limit on the amount of time allowed to pass from the date of the incident before you automatically forfeit your right to file a lawsuit. In our state, the statute of limitations for premises liability case is the same as for personal injury cases. An injured party has three years (36 months) from the date of the incident to bring a lawsuit.
Failure to file a lawsuit within that period results in the loss of the victim’s right to recover damages. Also, there are specific notice requirements for premises liability cases in Massachusetts. A victim is required to provide the property owner or landlord with written notice within 30 days of the incident.
The Common Challenges to Expect (or Why You Need a Massachusetts Premises Liability Lawyer)
In our state, the injured party in a premises liability-related incident has the option of filing an insurance claim against the property owner’s insurance company or bringing a personal injury lawsuit in a Massachusetts court.
A plaintiff may encounter the following challenges when trying to receive compensation for his or her injury in Massachusetts:
- Various defense strategies mounted by the defendant to deny the claim;
- Different tactics used by insurance companies to minimize or deny the claim;
- Difficulty proving that the injury was caused in this particular incident on this particular property;
- Difficulty proving that the defendant was aware or should have been aware of the hazard; and
- Preventing the defendant from shifting the blame onto the plaintiff to take advantage of Massachusetts’s “shared fault” rules.
All of these and many other challenges could jeopardize the success of your claim, which is why it is advised to be represented by a Massachusetts premises liability lawyer. Contact The Law Offices of Richard Mucci today to discuss your case immediately. Call at 781-729-3999 for a free phone consultation.