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:
A premises liability lawyer can make things easier for you from the very beginning of your slip and fall accident case. An attorney can take care of tasks related to your case on your behalf while you focus on recovering from your injuries. These tasks may include slip and fall accident investigation, evidence assessment, eyewitness interviews, initial claims filing, connecting you to capable doctors, and trial representation. You can enjoy total peace of mind when a lawyer takes care of the complicated legal process for you.
You may not be able to convince an insurance company to offer the full amount of your past and future damages while handling a slip and fall accident case alone. Insurance companies know what tactics to use to take advantage of clients and settle cases for lowball amounts. A common tactic during a slip and fall case is to allege that the victim was not paying enough attention while walking and that this caused the fall – not the defendant’s negligence. Another common ploy is to allege that the victim’s injuries were pre-existing.
Hiring a slip and fall lawyer in Boston can enable you to see bad-faith tactics for what they are and hold an insurance company accountable. Your lawyer can take his or her years of experience going up against insurance companies and put it to use for you. Having a lawyer handle negotiations with an insurance claims adjuster for you can ensure you do not settle for less than your injuries demand. Your lawyer will be able to use proven negotiation strategies for a fair outcome. If your case needs a slip and fall accident trial, your lawyer can go to court for you as well.
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 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.
Liability means someone’s legal responsibility for an accident or injury due to his or her contribution to causing the accident. In Massachusetts, someone may be liable for a slip and fall accident if that person or party negligently failed to fulfill a duty of care owed to the victim. A big box store, for example, will owe a duty of care to its customers to check the property for slip and fall hazards and repair any noticeable defects. If the store or its employees are negligent in fulfilling this duty and a customer slips and falls because of it, the store would be liable for the victim’s damages.
Most premises liability claims name the owner of the property where the accident happened as the defendant. A property owner could be liable for your slip and fall if he or she was negligent in the care or maintenance of the property.
If you fell while shopping at a store or visiting a business, the business owner or company may owe you compensation. Your lawyer can help you pick which defendant to choose based on the insurance coverage available.
A slip and fall accident in a public place in Boston, such as a public park or sidewalk, could lead to a liability claim against the government. The city and state governments are responsible for the safety of public spaces and buildings.
Your landlord may be responsible for your Boston slip and fall accident if you fell on a rented property because of a defect. Landlords will be responsible for most accidents in common areas, as well as falls due to issues with the structure or maintenance of the building.
Someone other than the person in charge of property maintenance could be liable for your slip and fall accident if he or she was negligent. If, for example, a distracted driver struck you while you were walking on a public street, you may be able to hold the driver responsible instead of the city. Analyzing the cause of your accident will lead to the right defendant.
Liability for a Boston slip and fall accident depends on the situation and cause of the fall. At Sweeney Merrigan Law, we can hire investigators to analyze slip and fall accidents. Investigators help us determine fault. From there, we bring claims against the correct defendants for our clients and prepare to refute defenses such as comparative negligence.
Comparative negligence is the argument that you contributed to your own accident and therefore deserve less compensation. In Massachusetts, the comparative negligence rule states that as long as a plaintiff was less than 51% responsible for an accident, he or she can still recover compensation. The courts may reduce your recovery, however, by your percentage of fault for the slip and fall. Hiring a lawyer can help you maximize your outcome even with a comparative fault defense.
Slip, trip and fall accidents can happen on any type of property in Boston, both indoor and outdoor. Our lawyers at Sweeney Merrigan Law have helped clients with both types of claims. We can sort through the nuances of each, as well as explain the differences between the two types of cases in more detail with you during a free consultation.
First, we will analyze the cause of your accident. Indoor accidents commonly involve causes such as spills, recently waxed floors, freshly mopped floors or cluttered walkways. These are generally issues that the owner of the home or an employee at a store can avoid with due care. Outdoor slip and fall accidents more often involve bad weather, such as ice in a parking lot. A property owner could still be responsible for an outdoor slip and fall if he or she reasonably should have remedied the issue before the accident.
After an indoor slip and fall accident, possible sources of evidence include indoor surveillance cameras, an employee’s statement and an accident report. If you were injured while falling outdoors, however, you may have to search for different types of evidence. Rather than reporting the accident to a store manager, you may have to involve the police instead if you were on public property. Ask for security tape footage from nearby businesses. Shared types of evidence between both types of claims include photographs, witnesses and medical experts.
One of the biggest differences between indoor and outdoor slip and falls is the party you can hold liable for the accident. While the owner of the premises or building will most likely be liable for an indoor slip and fall accident, this may not be the case if you fell outside. A business owner may lease the land from someone else or the building may be located on public property. You or your lawyer will need to find out who owns the tract of land where your outdoor slip and fall accident occurred. Then, your lawyer can determine whether that party owes you compensation.
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 word damages in a premises liability case has a double meaning. It refers to the losses you suffered because of your slip and fall accident as well as the financial compensation you could recover with a premises liability claim. When discussing damages recoverable or available in any type of personal injury accident, your lawyer means the types of financial awards you could receive by proving a defendant’s negligence. A typical slip and fall case in Boston could pay the plaintiff for several general and special damages.
These are examples of damage categories in the average slip and fall lawsuit in Massachusetts. The exact losses for which you can demand compensation will depend on your specific accident and how it affected you. If you have a hip fracture with serious health complications, for example, your slip and fall suit could be worth enough money to replace the costs of a surgery, pain medications, lost wages from a permanent disability, and other past and future losses.
Once your lawyer has listed the damages recoverable from your accident, he or she can calculate the overall value of the case. This takes adding up all of your economic damages (out-of-pocket financial losses) and combining it with noneconomic damages. A jury will decide noneconomic damage values according to specific information about the victim, such as his or her age and the severity of the injury.
The jury may use a special equation, such as the Multiplier Method, to calculate a reasonable amount in pain and suffering damages. This method multiplies the amount of economic damages by a number that represents the severity of the injury, generally from one to five. Working with a lawyer from Sweeney Merrigan Law in Boston can help you understand the value of your slip and fall case.
One of the most important aspects of 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.
The Boston personal injury lawyer 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.