Articles Posted in Premises Liability

Discount Retail StoreWhen you are injured in a trip-and-fall case, there are several hurdles you will necessarily have to clear. There are also some additional pitfalls that you may encounter depending on the specifics of your case. One of those potential pitfalls is the “open and obvious” rule, which says that, if a hazard is open and obvious, a property owner is not obligated to fix it or post warnings about it; the property owner or possessor has no legal obligation to do anything about an open and obvious hazard. Fortunately, there are many ways to counter a defense argument that a hazard was open and obvious. To make sure that you are prepared for everything that may come your way in your premises liability case, be sure to retain the services of a skilled Massachusetts premises liability attorney.

One case that showed how it is possible to overcome an “open and obvious” argument was an accident that occurred at a Watertown discount retail store. Jean was walking toward the entrance of the store when she tripped and fell, suffering significant injuries. It was not raining, and the area was not wet at that time.

The customer tripped along a curb area in front of the store, which she alleged was unsafe. Specifically, she presented a negligence lawsuit that argued that the curb was dangerous and defective and that the store either knew or should have known that the curb was dangerous and defective.

gavelIn Massachusetts, a property owner has a legal duty to those on their property to maintain it in a reasonably safe condition. While many people may associate this obligation with maintaining the property in a hazard-free condition to avoid trip-and-fall and slip-and-fall accidents, the duty actually goes beyond just that. One of the other obligations property owners have is to keep visitors to the property free from harm by certain third-party assaults. When a property owner fails to do so, and you suffer injuries as a result, you may have a claim against that property owner. An experienced Massachusetts premises liability attorney can help you assess your situation and the merits of your case.

An example of this type of scenario was a federal case that recently went before the First Circuit Court of Appeals, whose rulings affect federal cases in Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Puerto Rico. In the case, the plaintiff, Henry, lived in a condominium complex that was attached to a luxury hotel in downtown Providence. This residence came with access to the hotel’s services and amenities. One night, while waiting outside for his girlfriend, Henry noticed a large group of boisterous young people who were going in and out of the hotel’s entry area. At one point, the group appeared to chase and potentially attack an African-American passer-by.

Henry told a valet to get help, but the valet told Henry, “That’s not my problem” and went to go park a car. Henry retreated to the hotel lobby. He informed the hotel concierge of the problem, but before she could act, the mob attacked Henry. They punched, shoved, and kicked him. They held him down while one threw a table at him. In the end, Henry suffered a broken arm in the attack.

gravelIn many situations, there may be more than one type of legal theory that allows you to win your case and obtain a recovery of damages. For one woman who broke her hip trying to enter a Cape Cod garden store, she was able to advance her premises liability lawsuit even though she didn’t have proof that the store owner had actual notice or constructive notice of the tripping hazard that caused her to fall. The customer succeeded because she persuaded the courts that she should be allowed to go forward based upon something known as a “mode of operation” analysis. This alternate means of pursuing a premises liability case is just one example of how it can pay to have skillful and knowledgeable Massachusetts premises liability counsel on your side.

The injured woman, Linda, was a customer who was attempting to enter the store when she fell. The fall took place along a walkway that was surrounded by a gravel area that the store used to display products for sale. One of the gravel rocks had found its way onto the walkway and caused Linda to trip and fall, which resulted in her suffering a displaced fracture of her right hip.

The customer filed a lawsuit against the owner of the store for her injuries. The store moved for summary judgment, which would have ended Linda’s case before she even got to trial. The store’s argument was that the law of premises liability required an injured person to show the existence of actual or constructive notice, and Linda had proof of neither, so she had no case. “Actual or constructive notice” means that the owner or party responsible for a certain property either actually knew or reasonably should have known about a hazardous condition (such as gravel rocks in a walkway).

slip and fallSlip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accidents are relatively common, but they also can potentially be very serious situations that cause long-lasting or even lifelong impacts upon the people hurt in them. When this harm is a result of the inappropriate action or inaction of others, the injured person may be entitled to a monetary recovery in court. If you’ve been harmed in a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident, there are many things that you should do right away. At the top of your list should be retaining an experienced Massachusetts premises liability attorney to represent you in your case.

Frances was someone who found herself in a slip-and-fall case. She was walking on the property of a senior living facility in Norwood when she fell, allegedly suffering injuries as a result of that fall. When you are hurt in a trip-and-fall or slip-and-fall accident, there are several things you can do immediately to help yourself. For example, if you have ready access to a camera, you can take pictures of the area where you fell to preserve an image of the area as it existed at the time of your accident. You can also request a copy of any incident reports the property owner or manager has written up.

Of course, as discussed above, one of the important things you should do is retain skilled injury counsel. Whether you need to collect and present the factual evidence of your case or make legal and procedural arguments before a judge, all of these things can be enhanced by having knowledgeable counsel. In Frances’ case, the latter half of this list (legal/procedural issues) took center stage. The ownership structure of the senior facility involved several layers of business entities, including corporations and LLCs.