Boston Premises Liability Attorney | Call Our Experienced Injury Lawyers
Everyone has heard of the classic case in which someone falls due to a slippery floor in a store, and then files a lawsuit against that store to collect compensation for the damage. These cases happen in Boston and across the United States.
While this is just one example, this is called a premises liability case, meaning the person who owned the property owed a duty of care to visitors on the property to maintain a safe environment. In the event that someone gets injured due to lack of property maintenance or some other form of negligence, that person has the right to file a lawsuit to recoup their expenses.
Premises liability laws exist to hold property owners or managers responsible when negligence has caused an accident. Anybody who is in charge of a property, whether they manage it or own it, is required to ensure that it is safe for use by others.
The laws surrounding a premises liability case change based on who the injured party (plaintiff) is, and the nature of their relationship with the defendant. A property owner’s duty of care is not the same for an unknown visitor or trespasser as it is for a guest who was invited. It is also possible for the injured person’s own negligence to mitigate their damages and decrease the amount of compensation they can recover. It is also essential to keep in mind that not all accidents are grounds for a premises liability claim. Sometimes an accident is just an accident. If you were injured on someone else’s property, we can help you figure out if you have a claim.
If you were hurt in an accident that took place on another person’s property, whether it was at a supermarket or a friend’s house, you might be entitled to recover compensation for your injuries and other damages. Property owners and managers are obligated to ensure that their properties are safe for visitors. When they fail to see this responsibility through, people often get hurt. Call the Boston premises liability lawyers at Rubenstein Law to schedule a free review of your potential premises liability case.
What Is Premises Liability?
Property possessors and owners are required by law to routinely inspect their property for dangers that could cause injuries to visitors, fix known dangers in a timely fashion, and place conspicuous warning signs around the area in question to inform visitors of dangers that are known but have not yet been addressed.
Not every injury you sustain that was caused by a property hazard is the fault of the property owner. In order to establish a premises liability complaint, you have to be able to prove that you entered the property in question either to do business or as a social guest who was expressly invited.
To be clear, property owners generally do not owe a duty of care to trespassers. The sole exception to this rule is child trespassers who wander onto the premises to explore a property feature such as an old, deserted appliance, an unprotected swimming pool, or another attractive nuisance that could be dangerous.
Also, if the property owner was unaware and had no conceivable reason to be aware that danger was present, they would most likely not face liability for failing to alleviate it.
Types of Visitors in a Boston Premises Liability Claim
Premises liability issues emerge anytime a property owner fails to satisfy their lawful duty of care to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition for guests and visitors. A landowner’s duty of care changes based on who the injured person is in relation to the property. Not every visitor is owed the same standard of care. The nature of a property owner’s relationship with the victim will determine how your premises liability case moves forward. Call our Boston premises liability lawyers to schedule your free case evaluation today.
An invitee is someone who was invited onto a property, such as a retail store, to purchase services or goods. Invitees include patrons and customers of businesses but can also include a client meeting a service professional during a scheduled appointment. For instance, a common example of an invitee is someone entering a supermarket to do their grocery shopping. Invitees can also, however, include a patient entering a physician’s office for a routine checkup or a client walking into an estate agent’s office to inquire about purchasing a home.
Invitees are owed a very high level of care due to the fact that they were invited onto the property and they have a contractual relationship with the owner. Invitees are usually involved in conducting some form of business. Property owners have a responsibility to make their premises safe for invitees, including addressing any known dangers and conducting routine inspections to keep on top of any new ones.
The property owner could be held liable for an unknown danger if it was something that you would reasonably expect to be examined and repaired by the property owner. For instance, if, unbeknownst to the store manager or owner, a pipe starts to leak and causes a large puddle to form in the middle of the supermarket, they will most likely still be liable if a customer slips and falls, because spills are hazards they should reasonably be vigilant about.
A licensee is comparable to an invitee in the sense that they are both invited onto the property. Unlike an invitee, however, a licensee has no contractual or business relationship with the property owner. Licensees include those welcomed onto the property as social guests, such as family and friends coming over for a party. Licensees may also include individuals who are not invited but are still permitted on the premises, such as a pizza delivery guy bringing you the food you ordered or the Amazon delivery guy delivering your package.
Legally, invitees and licensees are different classifications of visitors, but no distinction is made between the two in Massachusetts law. The property owner owes the same duty of care to a licensee as an invitee. Both classes of visitors are regarded as lawful entrants, and property owners or managers are obligated to remedy any known risks and regularly inspect for unknown dangers.
Tenants are a category unto themselves because they are not merely visitors to a property. Rather, tenants occupy the property and reside there full-time. This puts them in the unique position of potentially being either a plaintiff or a defendant.
If a landlord has failed to ensure that a property is safe for their tenant, the tenant could have grounds to file a premises liability lawsuit. Tenants are in a more tenuous situation because if something does go awry, they are unable to just leave the property because it is their home.
As mentioned above, landlords have a duty to make sure the property is reasonably safe and to repair or otherwise mitigate any known and unknown dangers. A landlord, however, has a greater duty of care to check for serious or potentially long-term dangers. A landlord is expected to inspect, for example, the plumbing and wiring because they impact the habitability of the property.
Where premises liability cases are concerned, a tenant can also become a defendant if a person they invited onto the property, such as a social guest, sustains an injury because the tenant failed to maintain the premises. Although landlords are accountable for problems such as major repairs, the tenant is most likely accountable for daily upkeep. If a social guest is injured in a slip and fall accident because a tenant failed to mop up a spill on their kitchen floor, they could be held liable.
Trespassers are distinct from the three potential plaintiffs already mentioned. This is due to the fact that they are unknown to the property owner. Trespassers are unlawful entrants and are generally not owed a duty of care because the property owner has no way of knowing they are there and did not invite them.
For instance, if someone you have never met enters your back garden without permission and gets injured, they would not be eligible to claim any damages because you did not owe them any degree of care. In that same vein, a licensee or invitee can become a trespasser very quickly if they enter a location that is off-limits. For example, when a customer goes to a supermarket, they are usually restricted to the front of the shop where merchandise is sold. The back part of the shop, where deliveries are received and backstock is stored, is normally prohibited to shoppers. If a shopper enters the back room without permission and they sustain an injury, they could be viewed as a trespasser.
Common Types of Boston Premises Liability Accidents
There are a lot of potential property and safety hazards in Boston that can cause injuries to visitors. Boston premises liability accidents commonly involve slip and fall accidents resulting from wet or icy staircases or sidewalks because of the city’s numerous multi-story buildings and notoriously bad winter weather.
Some of the most common kinds of Boston premises liability cases include the following types of accidents:
Trip and Fall/Slip and Fall Accidents
Trip and fall or slip and fall accidents are the number one most common type of premises liability accident. These accidents happen when a dangerous condition causes a person to trip or slip and fall while on someone else’s property.
Trip or slip-and-fall accidents are responsible for roughly one million emergency room visits every year nationwide. They are also a leading cause of injury, disability, and death, especially for senior citizens.
Some frequent property hazards that lead to this kind of accident are:
- Icy or wet sidewalks - Boston experiences almost five feet of snow every winter, which means property owners must be diligent in shoveling and salting their sidewalks to keep visitors safe
- Damaged or loose flooring
- Debris or clutter lying on the floor
- Inadequately lit hallways and stairwells
- Improperly built or damaged stairways, or broken or missing handrails
- Cabinet doors, extension cords, and other objects stretching into a walkway
- Potholes in the parking area or cracked or uneven pavement on the property
If you were recently injured on someone else's property, contact the Boston premises liability attorneys at Rubenstein Law to schedule your free consultation as soon as possible.
All pet owners are liable for the damages their pet causes when they bite someone. As with the majority of Boston premises liability claims, the pet owner’s renter’s or homeowner’s insurance policy normally covers this kind of claim.
Massachusetts law says that dog owners are strictly liable. In other words, the plaintiff is not required to first prove liability by showing that the dog’s owner was negligent. The owner is still liable even if they had absolutely no reason to suspect that their dog was predisposed to antagonistic behaviors.
Another serious hazard for which the property owner or possessor could potentially face liability is negligent security in areas with known criminal activity. State law requires those who own property to discourage criminal activity and ensure the safety of their guests by:
- Having security patrol or security guards on the premises
- Equipping hotel rooms, rental homes, and apartments with windows and doors that properly close and lock and functioning alarm systems
- Installing motion detectors and lighting to impede criminal activity
- Developing proper procedures and policies designed to prevent harm to attendees at places such as public swimming pools and youth summer camps
The city of Boston has a lot of high-rise buildings. Almost all of which are equipped with escalators or elevators for the convenience of their occupants. While these machines are certainly a nice amenity, failing to perform routine inspections and maintenance (and attend to any potential dangers) could result in serious injuries to those who use them.
Escalator and elevator accidents commonly take place under the following conditions:
- A malfunction in the elevator causes it to speed up or down or to come to a sudden stop
- A malfunction in the elevator door causes it to shut on a visitor’s body
- A power failure causes the elevator to stop functioning and results in visitors being trapped inside
- A malfunction in the escalator causes it to suddenly reverse directions which makes riders fall
- An elevator panel gives out causing riders to fall over the side
- A missing or broken escalator step causes a rider to trip and fall
If you sustained an injury on an escalator or elevator, the Boston premises liability attorneys at Rubenstein Law will review your case for free and tell you what damages you may be entitled to collect.
Swimming Pool Accidents
Every year on average, more than 3,600 people die in public, hotel, or private residential swimming pools. When thinking about swimming pool accidents, many people imagine an accident involving a young child who wandered into a swimming pool and drowned. Unfortunately, this is a real scenario that does happen. However, swimming pool accidents also happen across several different age groups, causing injury and even death.
A near-drowning can lead to anoxic brain injuries. An anoxic brain injury is a serious condition that is caused by the brain being deprived of oxygen. It usually leads to permanent and extreme deficiencies, if not death.
There are multiple ways in which a person could be injured in a pool, including:
- Circulation injuries occur when a swimmer becomes trapped by drain suction. These accidents can result in disembowelment.
- Slip and fall injuries can occur due to the wet surfaces surrounding the swimming pool.
- Diving board-related accidents
- Serious shocks or electrocution caused by the swimming pool’s lighting or some other electrical component.
Overall with regard to all types of premises liability cases, the duty of care a defendant is expected to show will differ based on what kind of property the accident took place on and what type of hazards exist.
Someone who owns an eat-in restaurant will be expected to manage and maintain their property differently than someone who owns a large forested area. Despite their differences, their responsibility for care remains the same. Property owners must make sure that their premises are safe for legal entrants. If you were injured on another person’s property and want to know if you have a valid premises liability claim, call our Boston premises liability lawyers today.
How a Boston Premises Liability Lawyer Can Help
If a hazardous situation on a commercial, residential, or public property caused your injuries, you are entitled to seek compensation via a personal injury lawsuit.
Although a lot of injured people attempt to file a personal injury suit without the aid of an attorney, as is their right, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help secure a much more favorable outcome. Here are some of the ways we help:
- A free consultation during which you can have all of your legal questions answered and obtain dependable advice regarding the process of seeking full compensation in your premises liability case
- An estimate of the value of your claim based on the total damages you incurred because of your injury, as well as those you will probably have in the future
- A reliable determination of liability and a rundown of all insurance policies that could be potential sources of recovery
- Skillful negotiation tactics with the defendant’s insurance company used to reach a fair settlement offer on your behalf
- The punctual filing of any and all necessary paperwork. In Boston, a personal injury case must be filed within three years from the day the accident happened and in some cases, you may have even less time
- The gathering and preservation of important evidence and eyewitness statements to support your case in court as well as handling all communications with the insurance company
- Representation at trial in lieu of a fair settlement offer
- A contingency payment arrangement, which means you do not pay for any legal services unless and until we win your case
Recoverable Damages in a Boston Premises Liability Claim
After being injured due to the negligence of a property owner, Massachusetts law entitles personal injury claimants to pursue both economic and non-economic damages.
In legal terms, recovering damages means obtaining full compensation as payment for losses. Economic damages compensate victims for quantifiable losses such as their medical expenses and lost wages, whereas non-economic damages indemnify them for their non-quantifiable damages like pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and negative impacts the injury has had on their life.
Some damages that are commonly involved in Boston personal injury cases include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Reduced future earning capacity
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
Determining damages for premises liability claims due to a property owner's negligence is challenging, so if you were injured on someone else’s property, make sure you speak with a Boston premises liability attorney as soon as possible regarding the overall value of your case.
Common Defenses Used in Boston Premises Liability Claims
There are a few common defenses that are used by insurance companies and defense attorneys in premises liability cases. Your lawyer should be aware of and anticipate these defenses and be prepared to dispute them on your behalf.
Some of the most common defenses used in premises liability cases are:
- The property owner did not know and had no reason to know that the danger existed
- The danger was open and obvious, so it should have been easily noticed by the person who got hurt
- The injured person behaved in such a manner as to cause their own injuries
- The defendant is not in control of the property’s maintenance
- It is impossible for the property owner to have foreseen the conduct of a third party that resulted in a complaint of negligent security
Talk to a Boston Premises Liability Lawyer As Soon As Possible
The effective and efficient handling of Boston premises liability cases demands a complete investigation as well as knowledge of state law and the circumstances surrounding the accident. It is important to work with a law firm that is well-established and has the resources necessary to hire expert witnesses, such as accountants and accident reconstruction experts, to help strengthen your premises liability case.
It is also important to work with a law firm that has decades of experience in achieving successful outcomes for Boston premises liability cases. This will help ensure you get the best possible results.
A Boston premises liability lawyer from Rubenstein Law will use the firm’s considerable skill and resources to help personal injury victims collect the financial compensation they are entitled to.