Slip and fall accidents are sometimes an unavoidable part of life. Whether a fall is caused by an icy driveway after a snow storm or you trip over your own feet, taking a tumble can be embarrassing. However, if you’ve bruised more than your ego, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages.
When you are injured after a fall on somebody else’s property, you can be reimbursed for your losses if the property owner was responsible for your accident.
What is Slip and Fall Liability?
To be eligible for compensation under Massachusetts slip and fall laws (also called premises liability), you’ll have to prove that your injury was at least partially caused by the property owner’s negligence. Property owners have a legal duty to keep their premises in “reasonably safe condition.” If a property owner fails to maintain safe premises, they can be found liable if someone is injured by a hazard on their property.
Massachusetts law considers a property owner negligent if they do not correct an unsafe condition they knew of or reasonably should have known about. If that dangerous condition injures someone, the owner or property manager can be required to reimburse the injured person for their injuries.
While compensation for medical expenses and other damages may be available through insurance companies, a Boston slip and fall attorney can also help you file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party.
How Do I Prove Premises Liability?
Property owners are not held responsible for every injury on their property, only accidents caused by their negligence. You can use two fundamental theories to prove a property owner should be liable for your accident.
The Owner Should Have Recognized and Repaired the Condition
Under this theory of premises liability, you’ll have to prove that the property owner should have recognized and repaired the dangerous condition. If you were injured on commercial property, you can also argue that an employee of the business should have noticed and fixed the problem.
A classic example of this type of liability is a banana peel that a customer dropped on a grocery store floor. If another customer slips on the banana peel, falls, and is injured, would the store owner be liable?
The answer to this question depends on two factors:
Whether a reasonable person would have realized that the banana peel was dangerous
Whether the owner or an employee had sufficient opportunity to get rid of the peel before the accident occurred
For instance, if a customer dropped the peel a few minutes before the injured person slipped and fell, it will be difficult for them to prove that the property owner had time to discover and remedy the condition. However, if the peel was dropped in front of an employee or several hours before someone slipped on it, there is a strong argument that the owner was negligent in failing to remove it.
The Owner Caused the Condition and Should Have Repaired It
The other basic theory of slip and fall liability requires two elements to be met:
The property owner or employee created a dangerous condition.
They should have realized that someone could be hurt if the hazard wasn’t eliminated.
Let’s go back to the grocery store to see how this theory plays out in real life. Say that an employee is mopping the floor and a customer slips and falls on the wet tiles. Was the employee negligent?
In this situation, the property owner’s liability depends on whether it was reasonably foreseeable that someone could slip and fall on the wet floor and be injured. If the store was closed or the employee prominently displayed “Wet Floor” signs, the store owner will likely not be liable for the injuries. However, if the employee started mopping during a busy time of the day and didn’t put any signs up, the employee was probably negligent in creating the condition.
Under Massachusetts law, you are only entitled to receive compensation for your injuries if the property owner was more at fault than you. In other words, if you are found to be 51% or more responsible for the accident, you can’t collect. If you are determined to be 1% to 50% liable, your compensation will be reduced in proportion to your responsibility in the accident.
How a Boston Slip and Fall Attorney Can Help
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, an experienced Boston slip and fall lawyer can review the facts of your case and advise on the best strategy for obtaining compensation.
Talk to an experienced attorney at the Bellotti Law Group, P.C. in Boston, MA, as soon as possible if you want to have the best chances of filing a lawsuit successfully. Their seasoned lawyers are ready to represent your best interests in a personal injury claim. Call (617) 778-1000 to schedule a consultation, or submit our online form.