Although slip and fall accidents seem rare, they can happen in a number of different situations. According to the National Safety Council, they account for over 20% of workplace injuries every year and result in more than one million workers’ compensation claims filed and serious complications such as brain injuries. The Department of Public Health also estimated that Massachusetts recorded 548 deaths, almost 19,000 hospitalizations, and nearly 50,000 emergency room visits from falls in 2014 alone, serving as one of the highest risks for residents ages 65 and older. Aside from falls on the job, they can also occur because of unsafe property conditions that a property owner either fails to repair or notice, posing a danger to the general public. Some dangerous conditions that commonly cause slip and fall accidents are:
In general, property owners have a duty to either remedy or warn of any dangerous conditions that they know or should know about. Failure to fix or alert someone of a dangerous condition is likely a breach of their legal duty and grounds for damages. Available damages in personal injury claims include both economic damages such as compensation for medical expenses and lost wages as well as non-economic damages like pain and suffering. Depending on where you were injured, the responsible party may be a private citizen, a corporation, or a government entity. Bringing a suit against the government is very different from bringing one against a corporation or private citizen.
If someone fell on a piece of property, one of the main factors used to determine liability is that person’s status. In general, there are three different different classifications of visitors who are all treated differently under the law. Depending on the classification of the person in question, the law as it pertains to a slip and fall accident may change.
One of the most important aspects in a slip and fall case is adhering to the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Massachusetts is three years from the date of the incident. If a claim is not filed within this deadline, then your case will be dismissed. However, if you are filing a claim against a government entity, because of a poorly maintained sidewalk or road for example, then you must give formal notice to that entity and the time period to file is reduced to two years. Filing a personal injury claim against the government is more complex, so be sure to contact an experienced lawyer for assistance.
One of the main causes for slip and falls accidents, especially in a cold weather state like Massachusetts, are wet or icy sidewalks and roads. Prior to 2010, property owners were allowed to leave natural buildups of snow and ice on their property without being liable for any accidents. However, the Massachusetts Supreme Court struck this 125 year old provision down in 2010, making property owners liable if their property has any dangerous conditions. Individual cities and towns will also have their own provisions and fines for these types of offenses.
The legal team at Sweeney Merrigan Law has the knowledge and experience that it takes to successfully pursue slip and fall claims. If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall accident, call Sweeney Merrigan Law today for a free consultation. Our legal professionals will fully investigate the circumstances of your accident and aggressively pursue all available means of compensation.