1. What is premises liability?
Owners of residential or commercial properties have a duty toward those that enter their premises. If an owner violates this duty and a person on their premises is injured, the owner may be liable (legally responsible) for their injuries.
2. What kind of duty does a property owner have to visitors on the property?
Generally speaking, owners of commercial or residential properties have a duty to keep their property in reasonably safe condition and give adequate warning to visitors of unsafe conditions. Under certain circumstances, persons who lease or rent a property have the same duty.
3. Who is considered a “visitor” for the purposes of a premises liability claim?
In Massachusetts, a visitor is anyone who is lawfully on someone else’s property. This may include, for example, a guest visiting a friend’s home, a plumber visiting a client, or a customer in a supermarket or shop. Even a trespasser injured on someone’s property may successfully sue the owner if the trespasser can show that the owner willfully, wantonly or recklessly disregarded the trespasser’s safety.
4. What kind of conditions may make a property owner liable for injuries?
Unsafe conditions that may give rise to a legal responsibility include:
- Damaged stairs or handrails
- Lack of handrails where require
- Cracked or uneven walkways or pavement
- Poorly-lit areas
- Defective elevators or escalators
- Slippery or waxed floors
- Broken furniture
- Falling objects
- Lack of security
- Snow and ice accumulations on walking surfaces
- Failure to warn of hazardous areas or construction zones
5. What kind of damages can I recover in a premises liability case?
If successful, you should be able to recover all the financial losses associated with your injury. These include medical expenses and treatment, including hospitalization, medications, and rehabilitative therapy, and lost income or earnings. You may also be entitled to receive compensation for the pain and suffering and mental anguish you experienced.
6. What do I need to prove to recover damages?
You need to prove that the property owner breached a duty of care to you and that you were injured and suffered financial and/or non-financial damages as a result. As proof, you’ll need as much evidence as possible: photographs of the unsafe property, eyewitness testimony about the accident and injury, and medical and financial records relating to the injury. A Massachusetts premises liability lawyer can help you identify and collect the right evidence to support your case.
7. After my injury, an insurance adjuster contacted and made a cash settlement offer. What should I do?
You should not accept any offer from an insurance company without first speaking with an experienced Massachusetts premises liability lawyer. The insurance company is very likely offering you far less than your claim is worth – their goal is to save as much money on a claim as possible. Your lawyer will advise you as to whether the settlement offer is fair and, if not, what steps you should take next.
8. I was seriously injured at a friend’s house. I’m hesitant to file a claim against her, yet I can’t pay my medical bills on my own. What should I do?
It’s definitely a sensitive situation, but you should file a claim. Remember that you will be filing a claim against your friend’s homeowner insurance, not your friend. Your friend’s insurance rates could rise a little bit afterward, but it’s highly unlikely that personal assets will be affected as the insurance company’s money will pay the claim. Talk to your friend, discuss the situation and try to assure her that it is not personal, but that you need to have your bills and damages covered.
9. How soon after the accident should I file a claim?
In most circumstances, Massachusetts allows you three years to file a premises liability claim. Nonetheless, you should contact a premises liability attorney as soon as possible after your injury to preserve your rights and evidence.
10. How much would legal fees be for a premises liability lawsuit?
Almost all personal injury lawyers, including Attorney Peter Ventura, accept cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that you only pay a fee if the lawyer wins your case. As payment, the lawyer will take a percentage, usually 33.3%, of what he or she has recovered for you through settlement or at trial.
If you have any additional questions about premises liability, we’d be happy to answer them. Please contact Massachusetts personal injury attorney Peter Ventura for a free consultation today. Call 508-755-7535, or contact us on online.