CAN I SUE A BUSINESS
IF I WAS HURT
ON THEIR PROPERTY?
June 14, 2021
When you patronize a business in Massachusetts — whether a grocery or retail store, a professional office, or even a governmental building — you expect that their property will be safe for you to enter. Massachusetts law expects the same. Businesses have a legal duty to maintain their premises in a manner that keeps their patrons safe.
Still, hundreds of people are injured every year on business property in Massachusetts. If it is an employee of the business, they can pursue claims through workers’ compensation. If it is a customer, claims are subject to the state’s personal injury laws.
Over the past 30 years, I have helped clients pursue premises liability claims against businesses that failed to keep them safe from harm. My firm — the Law Office of James A. Maniatis — proudly serves victims of negligence from Shrewsbury, Southborough, Webster, Westborough, Northborough, Grafton, Boylston, Millbury, Upton, Dudley, and Oxford, Massachusetts.
UNDERSTANDING PREMISES LIABILITY
Premises liability pertains to a business’s negligence in maintaining its property in a manner that ensures the safety of visitors. Businesses owe a duty of care to their customers by properly inspecting and maintaining their property to eliminate danger.
Following are two examples in which businesses failed in this duty:
A customer in a convenience store slips on a wet substance on the floor and suffers injuries requiring medical attention. The substance had been there long enough for employees to walk by it and they failed to either place cones or warning signs around the hazard or to clean up the spilled substance to make the walkway safe.
A person preparing to enter a business trips on a sidewalk that changed height from one slab to another. There was no warning paint or sign indicating the difference in height.
BUSINESS LIABILITY LAWS
Under Massachusetts law, businesses that control or own real property have a duty to keep it in a reasonably safe condition. If someone who lawfully entered the property is injured due to the failure of the business to uphold that duty of care, the victim can file a personal injury claim against any responsible party and its insurers.
Massachusetts’ Attractive Nuisance Doctrine holds businesses liable for injuries to children if they attempt to trespass due to an object that is attractive to them if the business makes no effort to avoid conditions unsafe for unsuspecting children. Such nuisances might include refrigerators, freezers, washers, dryers, swimming pools, fountains, and abandoned vehicles.
FILING A PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM
Premises liability claims fall under personal injury laws in Massachusetts. As such, a claim must be filed in the appropriate court within three years of the date of the injury. If a loved one dies as a result of an unsafe condition, the statute of limitations would toll three years from the date of death, which could be later than the date of the incident.
Massachusetts also recognizes comparative negligence in personal injury claims. This means you could be held partially responsible for your injuries and your award reduced by your share of liability. For example, if a plaintiff is found to be 10% responsible for their injuries and the business is 90% responsible, the plaintiff’s recovery would be reduced by 10%. If the total damages awarded are $100,000, the plaintiff would receive $90,000.
State law also specifies that if you are found to be more than 50% at fault, you may not recover any damages at all.
WHY YOU NEED AN ATTORNEY
Attorneys for businesses and their insurers will work diligently to prove liability on your part to reduce or even eliminate your compensation. They will argue that an unsafe condition was “open and obvious,” and you should have noticed and avoided it, that the hazard was marked by signage or cones, that you were not paying attention, or that you were wearing inappropriate footwear at the time.
Lawyers definitely will be working against you, so you need a seasoned and aggressive premises liability attorney working for you. Your attorney will fully investigate the circumstances of your injuries, retain the services of safety and medical experts as needed, and boldly negotiate with defendants and their insurers.
At my firm, I provide my clients with the time and attention it takes to prosecute their injury claims against negligent business owners and any other party liable for the accident. My goal is to achieve maximum compensation in each and every case I handle.
PREMISES LIABILITY ATTORNEY SERVING SHREWSBURY, MASSACHUSETTS
If you have been injured or a loved one incapacitated or killed due to unsafe business premises in Shrewsbury, Southborough, Webster, Westborough, Northborough, Grafton, Boylston, Millbury, Upton, Dudley, or Oxford, Massachusetts, call me at the Law Office of James A. Maniatis today to schedule a free case consultation.