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Massachusetts Court Discusses Sufficiency of Evidence to Prove Notice of a Dangerous Condition in a Slip and Fall Case

Slip and fall accidents are one of the most common causes of personal injury. When a person is injured in a slip and fall accident at a business, the person may be able to recover compensation from the business owner for any harm the person suffered. To successfully prove the business owner should be held liable, however, the injured party must prove that a dangerous condition caused the fall, and the business owner knew or should have known of the condition. A Massachusetts appellate court recently analyzed what constitutes sufficient evidence to prove a business owner should have had notice of a dangerous condition in a slip and fall case. If you were recently injured in a slip and fall accident it is essential to retain a trusted Massachusetts personal injury attorney to represent you in your pursuit of damages from the business owner.

The Slip and Fall Accident

Allegedly, the plaintiff and her daughter stopped at a fast food restaurant on August 14, 2014. It was raining heavily that day, and the plaintiff and her daughter parked by the front entrance of the restaurant. The plaintiff was holding her daughter’s hand and entered the restaurant via the front door, walking in front of her daughter. As soon as she entered the restaurant, the plaintiff’s right leg flew forward, and she fell onto her left knee. She then noticed there was water everywhere and the water had pooled in a three to four-foot puddle on the floor. While there was a mat and yellow cone by the side entrance, the plaintiff stated that there were none by the front entrance.

It is reported that the plaintiff filed a negligence claim against the defendant restaurant. The case proceeded to a bench trial, during which the defendant filed a motion for involuntary dismissal pursuant to Mass. R. Civ. P. 41(b)(2) which the court denied. The court ultimately found in favor of the plaintiff, after which the defendant appealed. On appeal, the defendant did not dispute that the plaintiff suffered injuries but argued that as the plaintiff did not produce evidence as to how long the water had been on the floor, she failed to establish that the defendant should have known of the water.

Notice of a Dangerous Condition

Under Massachusetts law, a business owner has a duty to prevent third parties from sustaining injuries which includes the duty to keep its premises in a reasonably safe condition. To prove a business owner’s liability following a slip and fall accident, the injured party must show that the defendant breached the duty of care by allowing a dangerous condition to exist on the floor. The injured party must also show that the defendant either knew of the condition or that it existed for such a length of time that the defendant should have been aware of the condition.

In the subject case, the court found that the evidence indicated that the water had not been tracked in by customers but had been on the floor for some time. Specifically, it had been raining for a long time and the front door did not close all the way, due to construction. Moreover, the water was located in a place that was visible by the employees, and not hidden away in a bathroom. Thus, the court found that the plaintiff produced sufficient evidence to show that defendant should have been aware of the water on the floor.

Meet with a Capable Massachusetts Personal Injury Attorney About Your Case

If you were harmed in a slip and fall at a business, you should consult a Massachusetts personal injury attorney to assess the circumstances surrounding your harm and whether you may be able to recover compensation from the business owner.  At Karsner & Meehan our personal injury attorneys of will gather evidence and facts in favor of your recovery, to help you in your pursuit of any damages you may be owed. You can contact us at 508-822-6600 or through our online form to schedule a confidential and free meeting about your case.