If you slip, fall, and you’re injured because another party was negligent, you are entitled by Massachusetts law to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and more. However, to recover that compensation, you must be represented by a Boston slip-and-fall attorney.
Each year in the U.S., thousands are injured slipping and falling on stairs, floors, sidewalks, or in parking lots. Potholes or sidewalk cracks may lead to a slip-and-fall injury. A curled-up carpet, rug, or floor mat may also cause falls and injuries. Snow and ice increase these hazards in winter.
How is the fault for these incidents determined by insurance companies and the courts? What are your rights if you are injured slipping and falling, and it’s someone else’s fault? What steps should you take? For the answers, keep reading this brief introduction to slip-and-fall injuries.
What Is Required of Property Owners?
The law in Massachusetts requires property owners in this state to maintain their properties so as to reduce or eliminate hazards and risks to tenants, employees, customers, and other visitors.
When premises are not properly maintained, an owner may be held liable for any injuries sustained by a visitor to those premises – if that owner was aware of (or should have been aware of) the hazardous condition that caused the visitor to slip and fall.
However, owners have no liability for accidents they could not have reasonably prevented. If a person is injured by walking into a swimming pool or a barbecue pit because that person was negligent and not paying attention, any injury is that person’s own fault.
What Steps Should You Take After a Slip-and-Fall Injury?
If you are injured by slipping and falling, your first priority is to summon or seek medical help. Even if you feel okay, you might have sustained a latent injury, and if it is not immediately detected, it could quickly – or in some cases, slowly – emerge as a serious medical condition.
A medical exam also protects you legally. If you suffer a latent injury and do not have an exam at once, a property owner’s insurance company could claim that you were injured in another way at a different time and place. Try to have an exam within twenty-four hours of the incident.
Slip-and-fall accidents account for over forty percent of all spinal cord injuries. Slipping and falling can also result in neck, back, and head injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. Victims of these injuries almost always need to recover the maximum available amount of compensation.
Every slip-and-fall case is different, so if you are injured by slipping and falling in the Boston area, you will need to obtain personalized advice at once from a Boston slip-and-fall lawyer, and you’ll need to learn how the law applies in your own situation.
What Does It Take to Prevail With a Premises Liability Claim?
Prevailing with a slip-and-fall injury claim requires the victim (or “plaintiff”) and the victim’s attorney to prove the following “elements” of the claim:
- The owner of the property (the “defendant”) owed the victim a “duty of care.”
- That duty was breached by the owner’s negligence.
- The negligence was the direct cause of the victim’s injury.
What Is a Duty of Care?
Legally speaking, we all owe each other the duty to behave legally and responsibly toward one another – a duty of care. Drivers, for example, owe others on the road the duty to drive safely and to obey the rules of the road.
Homeowners have a lesser duty of care compared to businesses. You can tell neighbors and friends to be careful about walking on your home’s cracked sidewalk, but if the sidewalk in front of your business is cracked, you must put up a sign or barricade and repair the sidewalk at once.
In most slip-and-fall cases, if a property owner could have prevented the injury, and didn’t – even while knowing of a hazard and having sufficient time to repair it – the property owner will be held liable and will be obligated to pay damages to the injury victim.
What about trespassers? Usually, an injured trespasser cannot bring a premises liability claim, but if a dog guards your home or business, you must post – where it’s clearly visible – at least one sign warning about the dog, or you could be liable for a trespasser’s dog bite injury.
What Else Will You Have to Prove If You Are a Slip-and-Fall Injury Victim?
Your Boston slip-and-fall attorney may seek a medical expert and/or an accident reconstruction expert to provide a statement or testimony in support of your premises liability claim. You and your attorney also must demonstrate the severity and extent of your personal injury or injuries.
If you slip on a damp floor at a supermarket, for example, the management may have breached its duty of care to the store’s customers, but if you can walk away from the incident uninjured, you have no damages – and no claim.
Is There a Deadline for Taking Legal Action?
In most cases, the deadline in Massachusetts for filing premises liability claims arising from slip-and-fall injuries is three years from the date of the injury. Do not, however, wait three years and then scramble to file an injury claim at the last moment. Don’t even wait three weeks.
Contact a Boston slip-and-fall lawyer promptly. Your lawyer should be able to examine any evidence before it deteriorates, and your lawyer should also be able to question any witnesses before their memories start to fade.
The three-year deadline applies to slip-and-fall injuries sustained on private property. If you slipped, fell, and sustained an injury on public property, you may have less time to take legal action, so consult an attorney as soon as you’ve been examined or treated by a medical provider.
What Else Should You Know About Slip-and Fall Injury Claims?
If you have been injured in a slip-and-fall incident in Massachusetts, and if you are convinced that a property owner was negligent and should be held liable – or if you’re not sure – it won’t cost anything to learn more about your rights.
Your first consultation with a Boston premises liability lawyer is provided with no cost or obligation. If you proceed with an injury claim, you pay no lawyer’s fee until and unless your lawyer recovers your compensation.
If a property owner’s negligence is the reason you were injured in a slip-and-fall accident, compensation is your right, and so is a good attorney’s help. If you’ve been injured by negligence, and if you and your attorney can prove it, the law will be on your side.