During the winter months, Massachusetts residents brace for the snow and ice that cause slick and slippery roads, sidewalks, and driveways. Some public establishments take the time and care necessary to ensure safe passage, while others neglect their property. Injuries that occur due to poor property maintenance are known as “slip and fall” cases, and more formally as “premises liability.” Slip and falls extend beyond icy passages and can include accidents like a slippery floor in a grocery store, or a decrepit, poorly lit staircase in an apartment complex. Owners are responsible under state law to maintain their premises in a safe condition for everyone who can reasonably expected to be on the property. If someone suffers an injury as a result of neglect, she or he can seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering from the property owner.
Thorough investigation conducted as soon as possible after the injury can greatly aid in the pursuit of damages. Each slip and fall case is unique, and individual facts that arise from an investigation can affect the outcome and amount of award an injured party receives. Frequently, owners will point to the injured party’s actions to rebut claims of negligence, or to their own attempts to warn or prevent injury.
The Commonwealth Court of Massachusetts recently issued a Memorandum and Order in Monaco vs. Vacation Camp Resorts International, Inc., which provides an example of the legal analysis conducted in a premises liability case. In this case, a man sought recovery for serious injuries when he fell down a hill. This hill was used by campers to reach a shower building, and the injured guest argued that the owners of the resort failed to light the pathway, keep it in a safe condition, or warn against its dangers. The trial court issued a summary judgment in favor of the resort, and the injured guest appealed.
The Appeals Court agreed with the lower court’s reasoning that the property owners owed no duty to the injured party. The lower court felt that the injured party chose to use a short cut instead of the existing paved pathways, in the dark, and that this choice prevented him from holding the owners accountable. In all personal injury cases, to recover damages, one must show that the at-fault party owed a duty of care to the injured, and that by failing to uphold this duty, injuries occurred.
The Appeals Court felt that while landowners are obligated to “anticipate and take measure to avoid risks that their property poses to invitees,” they are not required to consistently and constantly check for dangerous conditions. The court felt that the injured party had to show that the pathway posed an apparent danger, and that the owners had greater knowledge than the injured guest of the risk. Based on this, the Appeals Court affirmed the summary judgment.
When you’ve been injured on someone else’s property, it is vital to have the experienced Massachusetts premises liability attorneys of the Law Office of James K. Meehan at your side. We appreciate your case is unique, and we have the knowledge you need to maximize the damages you deserve. For a free, confidential consultation, contact our office at 508.822.6600.
More Blog Posts:
Who Is Held Accountable for Operating Under the Influence Injuries Under Massachusetts Case Law?, Massachusetts Injury Lawyers Blog, November 24, 2014
Understanding the Complexities of Massachusetts Automobile Insurance Personal Injury Protection, Massachusetts Injury Lawyers Blog, November 17, 2014