Most days, people can go about our daily lives without incident, visiting public places like the supermarket, the dry cleaners, or a local coffee shop. Sometimes, however, accidents occur during those visits due to some unmarked or unremedied hazard—a puddle of standing water on a supermarket floor, for instance—on property owned or operated by another person. Such incidents can and often do result in serious injuries.
Injuries from an incident that occurs on someone else’s property may not be your fault. If the owner or occupier of the property did not keep the premises in a reasonable condition to prevent injuries by guests, they may be liable for your injuries.
If you are unclear about whether you have a claim against a property owner in Massachusetts, your questions could be answered by a Roxbury premises liability lawyer. A skilled personal injury attorney could discuss your situation with you, assess the amount of damages the defendant might owe you, and help you pursue appropriate compensation in civil court. En Español.
To initiate a claim for negligence against a property owner, an injured claimant generally must bring a claim within three years of the date of the incident, according to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 260 §4. It may, therefore, be advisable to seek the counsel of a Roxbury premises attorney as soon as possible to avoid losing the right to file a claim. An experienced lawyer could help an injured victim with filing a claim within the statute of limitations.
Generally, a property owner in Massachusetts has a duty to their visitors and customers to keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition. They must take into account the likelihood of injuries to others and take the steps to resolve a potentially dangerous condition.
As emphasized by cases such as Papadopoulos v. Target Corp., 457 Mass. 368, it is the duty of an owner to warn invitees of dangers that are not known or obvious to the invitee if the property owner knows or should be aware of the danger. It is also their duty to become aware of hazards through reasonable diligence.
It is important to note, however, that the same duty does not apply to public premises, such as a park or sports field, where no fee is charged for use of the facility. In these circumstances, only reckless or willful conduct by the property owner which causes injury may be actionable, according to MA Gen L ch 21 §17C. A Roxbury premises injury attorney could help an injured claimant determine if a viable claim exists against a property owner.
The determination of what duty is owed to an invitee—if any—can be particularly significant given Massachusetts’ comparative negligence law. This law, enumerated in MA Gen L ch 231 §85, states that an injured claimant may only recover when their negligence in causing the injury is no more than 50 percent responsible for the accident.
In other words, if someone files a premises liability suit but the court determines the plaintiff is 51 percent or more at fault for their own injuries, they cannot recover against the property owner. If the plaintiff’s total fault were deemed to be 50 percent or less, they could still recover damages, but their recovery would be reduced by the percentage of fault attributable to them.
If there is a potentially actionable claim against a property owner, damages might include compensation for:
Premises claims can be tricky, and the duty owed to you as a visitor to the property where you were injured can vary depending on the circumstances. It may, therefore, be a good idea to consult with a Roxbury premises injury lawyer to better understand your rights in the event you are injured on another’s premises.
Experienced legal counsel could help you determine fault according to the situation in which you were injured. Your attorney could also evaluate a potential damage claim and determine its value. Reach out today for professional guidance before a property owner’s insurance company attempts to give you less than you are entitled to.