When a person enters private property, whether it is a private residence, a store, or government property, they have the right to be kept as safe as reasonably possible while on that property. If the property’s owner fails to fulfill this duty of care to visitors on their land, they may be held liable for compensation to the injured party.
Premises liability cases may seem straightforward in this regard, but these cases are not always so simple. Legal concepts such as open and obvious dangers, comparative negligence, and the type of visitor on the property may all be relevant to the ultimate outcome of a civil lawsuit.
Because the elements of any premises liability case can become so complex, anyone injured on someone else’s property should speak to a Somerville premises liability lawyer. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney would know these legal concepts well and could determine how they apply—or do not apply—to your unique situation. En Español.
Unlike that of many other states, Massachusetts premises liability law only recognizes two types of visitors to private property: trespassers and legal entrants.
Legal entrants are those who enter a property either upon invitation by the owner or occupier or because they are legally allowed to be there. For instance, customers at a store may not have been specifically invited by the store owner, but they do have a legal right to be there. Property owners owe legal entrants the highest duty of care to ensure they will be kept safe on the property.
Trespassers, on the other hand, have no legal right or permission to be on the property. In most cases, property owners in Somerville have little responsibility to keep trespassers safe. However, they may not willfully or intentionally harm trespassers on their property.
The existence of a hazard that injures a person while on someone else’s property is not enough by itself to stand as grounds for a lawsuit. If there is a hazard or dangerous situation that caused harm to the plaintiff, that plaintiff must prove that the property owner should have known about the danger and taken reasonable steps to correct the problem.
In some cases, it can be easy to prove that a property owner neglected to take reasonable care. For instance, if a customer entered a grocery store and slipped on a spill that was not cleaned up for hours, the store manager should have known about it by then and therefore could be held liable for any injuries it caused. If the spill happened moments before the customer slipped, though, the manager could not have been reasonably expected to know about it, so liability could be harder to prove.
The legality of open and obvious dangers refers to dangers that the injured person should have known about. If a plaintiff becomes injured due to such a hazard, the court may find that they reasonably should have known about the danger and therefore they are not entitled to compensation. A Somerville premises liability lawyer could show the courts that these dangers were not so apparent and that the plaintiff is still entitled to compensation.
No one wants to get hurt, especially on someone else’s property. If you ever do, though, you may be able to file a lawsuit to claim compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost income, and rehabilitative care.
However, these cases are not always easy to prove, and trying to handle a personal injury case on your own is almost never a good idea. Instead, consider hiring a knowledgeable Somerville premises liability lawyer who could argue on your behalf in court or work with the at-fault party to reach a settlement. Call today to see what your legal options may be.