What Is Massachusetts Law Governing Slip and Fall Cases?

Bringing a slip and fall claim for personal injuries suffered against a negligent property owner can be confusing. And these cases are difficult to prove and win, without the assistance of an expert personal injury attorney. There are laws that have been enacted specifically to protect those who may otherwise become victims in slip and fall accidents in Massachusetts. These laws, and the courts, tell property owners what is expected from them to prevent pedestrians and others from getting injured while on their properties. In addition, they also specify how much time a victim has to file a personal injury claim for slip and fall injuries. This process will go a lot smoother when explained and handled by an attorney specializing in the field.

Those who own property in Massachusetts owe a duty of  “reasonable care” to all individuals who visit their property.  This is exercised by maintaining the property in such a way as to render it free from risks that may put others in unreasonably dangerous situations. An example of an unsafe condition would be piled up snow in the winter, that does not get shoveled, and is extremely slippery. Another example would be spills of foreign substances that do not get cleaned up in a timely fashion. Thus, if a property owner does not remove a dangerous condition from his or her property, or simply allows the condition to remain for a prolonged period of time, he or she may be held liable for all monetary damages suffered by the injured party.

The laws concerning slip and fall claims have continued to evolve in Massachusetts. Before 2010, it appeared to some that Massachusetts law greatly favored property owners for injuries suffered in snow and ice accidents. This is because the requirements of winning such cases were very difficult to fulfill. In a slip and fall case caused by snow or ice, the victim used to have to prove that the slip and fall was caused by snow or ice that was either “man-made” or “unnatural.” Since then, however, a shift has been made towards that of determining the “reasonableness” of the property owner in assessing liability. This means that a property owner now owes a greater duty of care to all those who visit his or her property, because liability can now attach even when the snow or ice is “natural” or not man-made.

With regard to liability, a property owner may be responsible for injuries sustained by the victim as a result of poor property upkeep. Also, in some cases, the caretaker of the property may be held liable for a slip and fall injury, suffered while visiting the property, if they did not do their job properly. It is also possible for a business that is leasing a commercial space to be held liable for injuries, when the landlord is not responsible. This is the case where the obligations of maintaining and safeguarding the property have been transferred to the tenant in a commercial lease. And, in an employee-employer situation, an employer may not be held liable for a slip and fall injuries so long as the employee is entitled to receive worker’s compensation benefits from the employer.

There exist limitations in liability, depending on where the slip and fall accident took place. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, there is a cap on the monetary damages that are recoverable for injuries resulting in slip and fall claims for those who were injured as a result of a defect on a public way. These injuries are limited to a maximum of $5,000. This is the case regardless of how badly the victim was injured. In Massachusetts, all public places that may be entered without paying a fee, and that are used for recreational purposes, do not give rise to liability for slip and fall injuries sustained during a visit, even if negligence exists. These places include parks and other public properties, and sometimes they may even include shopping malls.

In order to obtain the best possible results in your slip and fall claim, it is imperative that you contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Time is of the essence, because there is a time constraint, known as a statute of limitations, on how long you can take to file your slip and fall claim in court or settle your case. An expert personal injury attorney will be able to assist you in gathering the necessary evidence needed to prove your case, before any such evidence is lost or destroyed, and who will then present your case in an effective and persuasive manner.

If your injury took place on public property that is not a public way, you have a maximum of two years from the date of your injury to present your claim to the government or you will lose all of your rights to recover money damages for such a claim.

Due to all of the complexities in the law, and the different requirements for pursuing a slip and fall claim, it is in your best interests to promptly seek the services of a personal injury attorney specialist so as to have a greater chance of success. An attorney who specializes in personal injury law will be able to provide you with up-to-date information and helpful advice in order to obtain fair and substantial monetary damages.

We are pleased to provide an initial free and confidential consultation to all of our clients, so call 617-787-3700 or email us at info@gilhoylaw.com. Your needs are our priority!


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