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Articles Posted in Premises Liability

Businesses operated by agents of the federal government are subject to many of the same duties as non-public corporations. For example, if a person suffers harm due to a slip and fall accident at a government facility, the person can pursue premises liability claims against the federal government. In a recent Massachusetts opinion, the court explained what a plaintiff must prove to establish the government’s liability for harm caused by a slip and fall accident. If you were hurt by a dangerous condition on someone else’s property, it is wise to confer with a skillful Massachusetts personal injury attorney to assess your options.

The Plaintiff’s Fall

It is reported that the plaintiff fell while visiting the post office on a rainy day. She suffered bodily injuries and subsequently filed a premises liability claim against the defendant pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (the Act). Following discovery, the defendant moved for summary judgment. After reviewing the evidence, the court denied the defendant’s motion.

Proving Premises Liability Claims Against the Federal Government

Under the Act, the federal government is liable in tort to the same extent and manner as a private person under similar circumstances. Thus, as the plaintiff’s accident occurred in Massachusetts, she had to prove the defendant acted negligently under Massachusetts law. Continue reading →

Under Massachusetts law, when a person dies in an accident, the person’s estate will often seek damages from the parties that may have caused the events leading up to the person’s death. Simply because an accident occurred does not necessarily mean that a party will be deemed liable, however. This was shown in a recent case in which the court affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s wrongful death claims due to his failure to establish that the defendant owed any duty to the deceased person. If you lost a loved one in an accident caused by another party’s reckless acts, it is prudent to speak to a trusted Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss what you must prove to recover damages.

Factual History

It is reported that the plaintiff’s decedent was hit by a car when he was walking in the street, and subsequently died from his injuries. The facts demonstrated that he entered the street because the sidewalk that was adjacent to the roadway was impassable due to an accumulation of snow and ice. The plaintiff filed a wrongful death lawsuit against multiple defendants, including the owners of the property that was next to the subject sidewalk. The defendant property owners filed a motion to dismiss, arguing they did not have a duty to maintain a publicly owned sidewalk. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed. On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Duty to Maintain Sidewalks in Massachusetts

Upon reviewing the facts of the case, the appellate court noted that it was undisputed that the sidewalk was owned by the city in which it was located and not by the defendant property owners, and that it was a public walkway. Nonetheless, the plaintiff argued the defendant had a duty to refrain from causing dangerous conditions on the sidewalk and that it breached the duty by allowing the accumulation of snow to exist on the sidewalk. The appellate court found that this was insufficient to form the basis of a claim against the defendant.

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In Massachusetts, landlords generally owe a duty of care to their tenants to maintain their rental property in a reasonably safe condition, which includes ensuring that snow and ice are cleared from any common area. If a landlord fails to properly clear snow and ice from a property, and a tenant suffers injuries in a slip and fall accident, the landlord may be liable for negligence. As explained in a recent Massachusetts appellate court case, however, a landlord cannot be held liable for breach of the implied warranty of habitability for injuries caused by the failure to remove snow and ice. If you suffered injuries in a slip and fall accident at your rental property, you should speak to a Massachusetts personal injury attorney regarding your potential claims.

Facts Surrounding the Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff lived in a house he rented from the defendant. In 2010, the plaintiff sustained severe injuries when he slipped and fell due to snow and ice in the house’s driveway. He subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging negligence, breach of the implied warranty of habitability, and violation of the covenant of quiet enjoyment. The jury found that the plaintiff’s negligence exceeded the negligence of the defendant and therefore declined to award the plaintiff damages under the negligence claim. Additionally, based on the jury’s findings, the judge ruled that the plaintiff could not recover under any other theory of liability. The plaintiff appealed, arguing that because the defendant was deemed negligent, he violated the covenant of quiet enjoyment and breached the implied warranty of habitability as a matter of law.

A Landlord’s Liability for Failing to Remove Snow and Ice

Under Massachusetts law, a plaintiff who is injured in a slip and fall accident caused by a defendant’s failure to exercise due care in the removal of snow and ice may recover under a theory of negligence against the defendant, unless the plaintiff is over fifty percent responsible for his or her own injuries. Similarly, the implied warranty of habitability is an implied warranty in residential leases that the premises will be suitable as a dwelling for a human and will remain suitable throughout the duration of the lease.

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When a person suffers harm on someone else’s property, he or she may be able to pursue damages via a negligence claim in a civil lawsuit. A plaintiff asserting a negligence claim must establish each element of negligence, though, otherwise, the claim may be dismissed. This was demonstrated in a recent ruling in which the court dismissed the plaintiff’s negligence claim due to her failure to establish causation. If you sustained injuries due to another party’s negligence, it is prudent to consult a skillful Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss what evidence you need to seek a successful outcome.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Harm

It is alleged that the plaintiff ate dinner at a restaurant owned by the defendant corporation, after which she exited the restaurant through a revolving door. When she went through the door, however, she fell onto the sidewalk. She subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging the door was defective, and the defect caused her to fall. In support of her assertion, she submitted an expert report from a building contractor that stated that although the door complied with national standards with regards to rotational requirements, it was more likely not in compliance at the time of the accident, and exceeded the upper limitations. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff could not prove causation.

Establishing the Elements of a Negligence Claim

In Massachusetts, a plaintiff alleging negligence must show that the defendant owed him or her a duty to act with reasonable care, the defendant breached the duty, the plaintiff suffered damages, and the damages were caused by the breach. In the subject case, the court found that the plaintiff had established that the defendant owed her a duty and that a reasonable jury could find that the defendant breached the duty by failing to inspect the door on a regular basis. The court found that the defendant could not establish causation, however.

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Slip and fall accidents are one of the most common causes of personal injuries in Massachusetts. While in many instances, the condition that caused a fall is obvious, in others, it is not clear whether a condition contributed to a fall. Thus, in some cases, a person injured in a fall may need to retain an expert to offer testimony regarding the dangerous nature of a condition on a premises. Expert testimony must meet certain standards to be admissible, however, as demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts slip and fall case. If you sustained injuries in a fall at a business in Massachusetts, it is prudent to meet with a zealous Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss what evidence you must produce to recover damages.

Factual History

It is alleged that the plaintiff fell while descending a set of stairs at the defendant grocery store. Prior to the fall, she visited the defendant store regularly and never observed any defects in the stairs. She testified, however, that when she began to walk down the stairs, her heel caught on the tread, which was loose, causing her to fall. The defendant store’s manager inspected the stairs after the fall and did not observe any defects. A few weeks later, though, the plaintiff and a friend visited the store, at which time they observed the loose tread. As such, the plaintiff filed a negligence claim against the defendant in the Massachusetts federal court.

Reportedly, two years after the fall, the plaintiff retained a licensed engineer to inspect the steps. The engineer set forth a report concluding that the deterioration of the concrete at the top of the stairs created a difference in height between the tread and the stairs and that the height differential caused the plaintiff’s fall. The defendant moved to strike the plaintiff’s expert report.

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Generally, when a customer is injured while shopping at a business, it is due to a dangerous condition. Although a customer injured by a dangerous condition at a business can pursue damages from the business, in most cases, the business will only be deemed liable if it knew or should have known of the dangerous condition that caused the customer’s harm. This was discussed in a recent Massachusetts case in which the court dismissed the plaintiff’s claims due to insufficient evidence that the defendant knew of a foreseeable risk of harm. If you suffered personal injuries due to a dangerous condition at a business, you should meet with a trusted Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss whether you may be able to pursue a claim for damages.

Factual Background

It is reported that the plaintiff visited the defendant’s store to shop for groceries. When she entered the store, she took a shopping cart. She placed a newspaper in the cart and noticed it was slightly wobbly, but did not exchange it for another cart. When she was emptying the shopping cart at the check-out counter, the weight of the shopping cart shifted, and the cart fell on top of her, causing her to sustain injuries. She subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant, arguing the defendant was negligent for allowing customers to use a defective shopping cart. The defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff could not establish the elements of negligence as required to recover damages.

Proving Liability for a Dangerous Condition at a Store

Under Massachusetts law, an owner of a store has a duty to maintain its premises in a reasonably safe condition in consideration of all of the circumstances, including the likelihood of injury to others, the seriousness of a potential injury, and the burden of eliminating the risk of injury. Pursuant to that duty, store owners must guard against risks of harm that are foreseeable. In other words, a store owner must prevent risks of harm that it knows about or reasonably should know about, and which can be diminished via reasonably preventative measures.

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In many instances in which a Massachusetts resident suffers harm due to the negligence of a company, the company’s principal place of business is located in another state. As such, if the person files a lawsuit against the company in a Massachusetts court, an issue will arise as to whether Massachusetts can exercise jurisdiction over the company. Recently, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts analyzed when a court is permitted to exercised jurisdiction over a foreign company in a slip and fall case that was ultimately transferred to a Rhode Island Court. If you were injured in an accident due to the negligence of an out of state defendant, it is sensible to meet with a  knowledgeable Massachusetts personal injury attorney regarding your options for pursuing damages.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Injury

It is alleged that the plaintiff, a Massachusetts resident, traveled to a hotel owned and operated by the defendant in Rhode Island to stay overnight prior to a flight to Florida from a nearby airport. The next morning, the plaintiff tripped and fell while she was leaving her hotel. She subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant in the Massachusetts Superior Court, alleging that the defendant’s negligence led to her fall and that the fall caused her to sustain severe injuries. The defendant removed the case to the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, after which the defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that there was no basis for Massachusetts to exercise jurisdiction over the plaintiff.

Exercising Personal Jurisdiction Over a Foreign Entity

When a defendant files a motion to dismiss due to lack of personal jurisdiction, the burden is on the plaintiff to show that jurisdiction is proper. Thus, the court will review the evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. The plaintiff cannot rely on unsupported averments, however, but must set forth sufficient facts to show that jurisdiction is proper.

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Slip and fall accidents are a common cause of personal injury in Massachusetts. While a slip and fall accident can occur anywhere, some businesses, such as grocery stores and restaurants, experience a greater number of slip and fall accidents due to the increased likelihood of a by debris or liquid on the floor, causing a dangerous condition. As demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts appellate court case, regardless of where a fall occurs, a plaintiff seeking to recover damages in a slip and fall lawsuit must produce sufficient evidence to establish that the defendant could have prevented the plaintiff’s harm and, therefore, should be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. If you were injured in a slip and fall accident in Massachusetts, it is prudent to speak with an assertive Massachusetts slip and fall attorney to discuss what claims you may be able to pursue.

Facts and Procedure of the Case

It is reported that a surveillance video showed a child dropping a bottle on the floor of an aisle of the defendant’s grocery store. Approximately three minutes after the child dropped the bottle, the plaintiff fell in the same area. The plaintiff did not see anything on the floor prior to the fall, but after she fell, she observed a brown, sticky substance on the ground. The plaintiff sustained injuries to her shoulder, knee, and hip in the fall and subsequently filed a negligence claim against the defendant.

Allegedly, there was no evidence introduced at trial that the defendant had knowledge of the substance prior to the plaintiff’s fall, but its employees were trained to inspect the aisles for spills or other hazards, and if they discovered a spill how to prevent harm prior to when the spill was cleaned. A jury found in favor of the plaintiff, awarding her $50,000. The defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in instructing the jury regarding constructive notice or mode of operation.

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In Massachusetts, the duty a property owner owes to visitors of the property depends in part on the status of the visitor. For example, property owners owe a minimal duty to trespassers as opposed to those lawfully permitted to enter the property. There is an exception for child trespassers, however, who are owed greater protection from harm. Recently, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Essex, discussed what duties property owners owe child trespassers, in a case in which a child was harmed after unlawfully entering a property. If you or your child were injured on another person’s property it is prudent to meet with a seasoned Massachusetts personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your potential causes of action.

Facts of the Case and Procedural Background

Reportedly, the defendant owned an apartment complex that abutted railroad tracks. A fence separated the defendant’s property from the tracks, but there were large gaps and holes in the fence that adults and children used to pass through the property. The plaintiff alleged the defendant was aware that people used the holes and gaps in the fence to access the adjacent property but did not repair the fence.

It is alleged that the plaintiff, a thirteen-year-old girl, walked through the fence and over the railroad tracks with a friend to go to a nearby plaza to go shopping. On the way back from their shopping trip, the friend was struck by a train. The plaintiff attempted to perform CPR on the friend, but the friend died from her injuries.

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In Massachusetts, property owners generally have a duty to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition for any lawful visitors. There are exceptions to the general rule, however, such as when the harm presented by a dangerous condition is open and obvious. Recently, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts discussed the open and obvious exception to a property owners’ duty to warn of hazardous conditions, in a case in which a child was injured while using a zip line. If you or your child were injured on someone else’s property, it is wise to meet with a seasoned Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss what you must prove to establish liability.

Factual Background

Allegedly, the older brother of the minor plaintiff spent the night at the home of the defendants. The next day, the minor plaintiff, who was six years old, accompanied his father to the home of the defendants to pick up his brother. When they arrived at the defendants’ home, the minor plaintiff noted a zip line in the backyard.

Reportedly, the minor plaintiff asked his father if he could use the zip line. The father lifted the minor plaintiff onto the zip line and guided him for a few feet and then let him go. The minor plaintiff fell shortly after that, sustaining multiple fractures. The minor plaintiff’s mother instituted a negligence claim against the defendants on behalf of the minor plaintiff, arguing that the zip line was unreasonably dangerous. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, which the trial court granted. The plaintiffs appealed. On appeal, the court affirmed.

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