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Under Massachusetts Law the Failure to Provide Timely Notice of a Slip and Fall Due to Ice May Preclude Recovery of Damages

Under Massachusetts law, if you slip and fall due to ice on someone else’s premises, you are required to provide the party responsible for the premises written notice of the place, time and cause of injury within thirty days. The Appeals Court of Massachusetts recently held in Lewis v. Rocco Realty Trust, that a plaintiff who failed to provide the required notice was precluded from recovering from the defendant. If you were injured in a slip and fall accident caused by ice, it is essential to seek the assistance of an experienced Massachusetts personal injury attorney as soon as possible, as any delay may result in the waiver of your right to recover.

Factual Background

Purportedly, plaintiff filed a Complaint in which he alleged that he sustained injuries in a slip and fall accident that occurred three years earlier in a parking lot owned by the defendant. Plaintiff asserted the defendant’s negligent maintenance of the parking lot caused his fall. Defendant filed an Answer asserting, in part, plaintiff’s Complaint should be dismissed due to plaintiff’s failure to provide notice of the claim within the required time period. Defendant then filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings. Defendant attached correspondence from plaintiff’s counsel to its motion. The letter, which was dated eight months after the fall, included the date of the alleged incident and stated plaintiff suffered injuries because of the negligent condition of the premises but did not state plaintiff fell or allege that ice was the cause of plaintiff’s injuries.

Defendant also submitted an affidavit stating defendant was unable to investigate the condition of the lot due to the lapse in time between the incident and the receipt of the letter. Plaintiff argued defendant was aware of the fall because one of defendant’s agents witnessed the fall, and that the condition of the premises at the time of the fall could not have been preserved due to the nature of the premises. The court granted defendant’s motion, dismissing plaintiff’s Complaint. Plaintiff appealed. On appeal, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts affirmed the trial court ruling.

Holding of the Appeals Court of Massachusetts

The court stated that under Massachusetts law, a plaintiff alleging injuries due to a slip and fall caused by ice must provide the defendant with written notice of the time, place and cause of the injury within thirty days of the injury. Providing timely notice of the injury is a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit. The court noted, however, that failure to provide notice would not preclude recovery unless the defendant suffered prejudice due to the lack of notice. In the subject case, the court found that defendant provided ample evidence of prejudice due to the lack of timely notice. Specifically, defendant stated it was unable to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident. Moreover, the court noted the plaintiff’s letter did not advise the fall was caused by ice, further inhibiting defendant’s ability to investigate. Based on the foregoing, the court affirmed the lower court ruling.

Confer with an Experienced Massachusetts Personal Injury Attorney

If you have suffered personal injuries due to a person or entity’s negligent maintenance of a premises, you may be entitled to compensation. You must act in a timely manner, however, as there are time limitations on your right to recover. It is important to retain an experienced personal injury attorney to assist you in pursuing your claim, to ensure you recover the maximum amount of damages you are owed. The personal injury attorneys of Karsner & Meehan will analyze the facts of your case and work diligently to help you obtain a favorable result. Contact us at 508-822-6600 or via our online form for a free consultation.

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