Boston Premises Liability Attorney
When you visit a friend or enter a business property, you normally expect the location to be safe and for any risky conditions to be identified and well-marked. But, as Boston premises liability victims know, this isn’t always the case. Thousands of people are injured every year because of unsafe property conditions, from unmarked slippery walkways to building safety code violations. These accidents can result in serious injuries that keep the victims from returning to work or participating in activities that are an important part of their life.
Property owners are required to exercise a certain degree of care to keep visitors safe. If you or a loved one was injured on another person’s or a business’s property in or around Boston, MA, contact the Boston premises liability attorneys at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP today at (877) 472-3061 or through our website. Our firm is dedicated to providing our clients with personal service and unsurpassed legal representation.
Jacoby & Meyers, LLP Delivers Results for Our Clients
The team at Jacoby & Meyers has deep experience in pursuing recovery for victims of premises liability incidents.
The below examples demonstrate the wide variety of premises liability cases that our firm has pursued on behalf of our clients and the recoveries we have secured:
- A $4.2 million settlement with the building owners when an unstable stove fell on an infant, burning the child with boiling water.
- A $3.25 million settlement for the estate of a student who was burned to death when unable to escape from a burning apartment building. The building stairwell did not have fire doors and was painted with flammable paint.
- A $2 million settlement for a pedestrian who tripped and fell over a piece of plywood placed under a pedestrian barricade that extended into the sidewalk, resulting in a dislocated knee, elbow, and other internal complications.
- A $950,000 settlement with a landlord that failed to maintain the regulator on the unit’s water heater. This failure resulted in serious injuries to a baby after scalding water came from the unit’s faucet.
- A $650,000 settlement with a property owner after our client fell down the exterior steps of a house due to poor lighting and no handrails.
- A $450,000 settlement for our client who was walking home from work and slipped and fell on the homeowner’s icy sidewalk. Local ordinances required homeowners to clear snow and ice from sidewalks in front of their homes.
The above results are representative of the types of results Jacoby & Meyers, LLP has secured for past clients. While our firm can’t guarantee any specific result, our lawyers work with each client to assess their case, build a case strategy, and secure the recovery they deserve. Our firm’s extensive experience in personal injury cases has recovered tens of millions of dollars for our clients.
When Are Boston Property Owners Responsible for Injuries?
Boston property owners owe a duty of care to legal visitors to their property. The level of care and responsibility owed by a property owner depends on the status of the visitor. One of the first steps in evaluating your case will be to determine your status at the time of injury. Your lawyer will work with you to review the facts of your case and assess the duty owed by the property owner.
A visitor is an invitee if the property owner gave them consent (express or implied) to enter the property for the property owner’s benefit. The most common example of an invitee is a visitor to a business. These visitors are owed the highest duty of care, and Boston property owners must keep the property in a reasonably safe condition and advise invitees of any hidden or non-obvious dangers.
Your lawyer will work with you to compile evidence that the property owner knew or should have known about the dangerous condition, which could include evidence that:
- The owner or its employees created the dangerous condition or had actual knowledge of it;
- The owner or its employees had the opportunity to see the dangerous condition and remedy it before your accident; or
- Your injury was from a fall caused by a substance which the owner should have seen and addressed before your accident.
The longer the time between the creation of the dangerous condition and your accident, the stronger the argument that the owner was or should have been aware of the hazard.
A licensee is on the property with the owner’s permission but for their own benefit rather than a business purpose. A social guest is an example of a licensee. A Boston property owner has a more limited duty of care to licensees and is only required to make visitors aware of a danger they knew or should have known about and only if the visitor did not have reason to know of the risk.
A trespasser enters a property without permission. In most situations, a Boston property owner does not owe a trespasser a duty of care. This means that even if a property owner negligently maintains their property, resulting in injuries to a trespasser, the trespasser generally cannot recover compensation for their injuries under premises liability law.
In limited scenarios, a property owner is responsible for a trespasser’s injuries:
- Reckless Acts. If a property owner’s actions are deemed reckless or willful, they may be responsible for a trespasser’s injuries. To rise to this level, the owner’s behavior must create a substantial likelihood that injury will occur. This protects trespassers from actions intended to harm trespassers, such as setting a trap meant to injure a trespasser.
- Child Trespassers. A higher duty of care is owed to child trespassers. If the property owner maintains an artificial condition where (1) the property owner knows children are likely to trespass; (2) the owner knows or has reason to know the condition creates an unreasonable risk of death or serious injury to children; (3) a child is unlikely to identify or understand the risk associated with the condition; (4) the burden on the owner to eliminate the risk is low compared to the risk; and (5) the owner fails to exercise reasonable care to eliminate the danger or protect children. Examples of types of artificial conditions that often trigger premises liability for a trespassing child include pools and trampolines.
Less Common Scenarios
While the above are the most common premise liability scenarios, the duty of care of a Boston property owner may vary on:
- Ski resorts. Massachusetts law places responsibilities on skiers to ensure their own safety while skiing. The property owner might not be responsible for injuries resulting from failure to meet these responsibilities.
- Public property. While the state and cities are responsible for the safety of their property, statutes limit the liability of public entities. There are also additional administrative requirements when pursuing recovery from a public entity in Boston.
- Recreational facilities or properties. If a Boston property owner makes their property available for recreational purposes without charging a fee, they are generally only liable for injuries caused by the owner’s willful, wanton, or reckless conduct.
What Are Common Causes of Boston Premises Liability Injuries?
Any number of hazards can increase the likelihood of an accident on a Boston property.
Hazards that commonly increase the risk of injury include:
- Unmarked wet or slippery surfaces
- Inadequate or complete lack of lighting
- Poorly maintained structures or surfaces
- Violations of building safety codes
- Broken handrails or defective stairways
- Poorly maintained trees or other foliage
Some of the most common accidents caused by such hazards include slips, trips, and falls; burns from fires; dog bites; and exposure to dangerous substances. While a “slip and fall” might sound like a minor event, it can result in serious injuries. Victims of a slip and fall accident often suffer head injuries (including traumatic brain injuries), broken bones and fractures (including hip fractures), back and neck pain, and emotional trauma.
If a Boston property owner violates their duty of care, resulting in injury to you, they may be held liable for all the injuries you suffered because of an accident.
What Should I Include in My Damages Demand?
To determine what you can demand in damages—a legal term for compensation—in your Boston premises liability case, you should work with an experienced premises liability lawyer to assess all the ways your injury has impacted your life.
The defendant should compensate you for all injuries caused by your accident, which may include:
- Medical Expenses: Keep documentation of all your medical costs, including doctor visits, surgical procedures, emergency transportation, and prescription medication. The defendant may also be responsible for your future medical costs related to the accident, like physical therapy or rehabilitation.
- Loss of Income: If your injuries force you to miss work or to work a reduced schedule, the defendant may be held responsible for your lost wages. You may also include an estimate of future lost wages or reduced earning potential in your damages demand.
- Emotional Distress: Many premises liability incident victims suffer from emotional distress, such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. This may prevent a victim from managing their day-to-day life.
- Loss of Enjoyment: If your injuries keep you from participating in an activity that was previously an important part of your life, the defendant should compensate you for this loss.
- Punitive Damages: Punitive damages, which are meant to punish the defendant, are only available in a Boston premises liability case in limited circumstances, typically because the accident was caused by the defendant’s gross negligence or willful or wanton conduct.
Having a comprehensive understanding of your damages will be important as you seek recovery in a Boston premises liability action. Not only will this amount be considered by the jury if your case proceeds to trial, but it will also assist you as you assess any settlement offers received from the defendant or their insurance provider. While personal injury cases are often resolved via settlement, it is still important to ensure a settlement offer aligns with the strength of your case and the extent of your damages. Be sure to consult with your lawyer before accepting any settlement offer.
The defendant and their insurance provider will try to diminish their liability in any way possible. A property owner might argue that the hazard that caused your injury was obvious, and that you were being negligent to your surroundings. They could argue that you ignored warnings about the hazard or assumed the risk by entering the property, or that the property owner did not have (and had no reason to have) knowledge of the hazard. A Boston premises liability lawyer can help you assess any defenses raised by the defendant and find ways to debunk those defenses.
The defendant might also try to run the clock on your ability to file a lawsuit. Massachusetts requires that a Boston premises liability victim file a lawsuit within three years of the accident. While three years might seem like a long time, it will pass quickly as you deal with your injuries, gather evidence, and consider any settlement offers proposed by the defendant. A defendant and their insurer might drag things on and refuse to settle to reasonable terms, requiring you to file in court to pursue compensation.
Boston Premises Liability FAQs
Property owners owe a certain duty of care to authorized visitors of their property. Unfortunately, many visitors suffer injuries because of accidents caused by an owner’s failure to live up to that duty of care. If you or a loved one was injured while on someone else’s property in Boston, the property owner might be responsible.
Read on for answers to commonly asked questions after suffering from a premises liability accident.
Q: What is premises liability?
Premises liability is the term for a property owner’s responsibility when a visitor is injured on their property.
Q: What are common premises liability accidents?
Any accident caused by a property owner’s breach of their duty of care to visitors is a premises liability accident, but some occur much more frequently than others, including:
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Dog bites
- Exposure to poisonous substances
- Contact with objects, especially at construction sites
There can be many hidden dangers at a property, but common hazards that indicate a lack of reasonable care or disclosure by a property owner are:
- Failure to comply with building codes
- Creating fire hazards
- Uneven surfaces
- Falling trees and branches
- Unmarked slippery, wet, or other unsafe surfaces
- Poor lighting
- Poor maintenance, especially of stairs and handrails
- Obstacles in store aisles
Your lawyer will work with you to determine the cause of your accident and to compile supporting evidence.
Q: How frequently do premises liability accidents occur?
It is difficult to track the exact number of premises liability accidents in a given year because of the wide variety of causes and injuries, but the Department of Justice estimates premises liability cases are the second most common type of tort case, representing 17 percent of cases in a single year.
It is also possible to get an idea of the scope by analyzing common premises liability accidents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 800,000 patients are admitted to the hospital because of fall injuries every year in the United States. This number doesn’t even represent the true scope of these accidents because many victims require emergency room visits but do not need to be hospitalized. One out of five falls results in serious injury. Close to 1,000 people in the U.S. require emergency care because of a dog bite each year. Fires are the sixth-leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths in the U.S.
Q: What types of injuries do premises liability victims suffer?
The most likely injury will depend on the type of accident suffered by the victim. Slip and fall accidents are most likely to result in head injuries, traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, and fractures. If a dog bit you, in addition to the wound, you have a high chance of infection. Fire victims are likely to suffer from burns.
Accident victims are also susceptible to emotional distress, including anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. For example, the victim of a dog bite might suffer from extreme fear or anxiety any time they are in the presence of a dog.
Q: What is the responsibility of the property owner?
A property owner’s responsibility to visitors depends on the status of the visitor.
The two most common statuses are:
- Invitee: A visitor is an invitee if they entered with the owner’s knowledge and the visit benefits the owner. The most common example of an invitee is a customer at a business. A property owner owes the highest duty of care to an invitee and is expected to reduce or eliminate hazards that cause an unreasonable risk of harm to the visitor. The owner must either fix or make the visitor aware of any hazard that the owner is aware of or should be aware of through the exercise of reasonable care.
- Licensee: A licensee enters another person’s property for their own convenience or benefit. Social visitors are considered licensees. A property owner owes a slightly lower duty of care to licensees, but if the owner has actual knowledge of a hazard, they must still warn the visitor or make the hazard safe.
A premises liability attorney will work with you to determine your status at the time of the accident, whether the property owner satisfied their duty of care, and to compile evidence of the property owner’s failure to satisfy their responsibilities.
Q: Are trespassers protected under premises liability law?
The term trespasser is used for any person who enters private property without the property owner’s permission. Because the owner did not invite the trespasser on their property and has no reason to anticipate their presence, the duty of care owed to trespassers is much lower than for authorized visitors.
In almost all scenarios, a property owner is only responsible for a trespasser’s injuries if they are caused by reckless or willful actions of the property owner and only if these actions created a substantial likelihood of injury. This is a high standard, and failure to perform maintenance or mark non-obvious hazards generally do not qualify.
The only exception to this more stringent duty of care is for child trespassers.
A property owner must make safe, or otherwise protect children from, artificial conditions where:
- The property owner knows or should know that children are likely to trespass;
- The owner knows or has reason to know that the condition creates an unreasonable risk to children;
- A child would not understand the risk associated with the condition;
- It is a low burden for the owner to eliminate the danger when compared to the risk; and
- The owner did not take action to eliminate the danger or protect children.
Common artificial conditions that trigger the duty to child trespassers include playsets, pools, construction equipment, and trampolines.
If a property owner has accused you of being a trespasser, work with your attorney to understand your options for combating that assertion and to assess the property owner’s potential liability for your injuries.
Q: Can a property owner avoid responsibility for my injuries?
Even when a property owner owes a visitor a duty or care, your actions might diminish their liability for your injuries.
A property owner might raise one of these defenses against a claim:
- Open and obvious danger. If the risk would be obvious to a person of (a) average intelligence (b) with ordinary perception and judgment (c) who is exercising reasonable care for their own safety, the property owner is not required to warn a visitor of the risk. Massachusetts courts have found, however, that if the property owner knew that guests would fail to obey warnings or would not pay attention to or appreciate warnings, a duty still exists. Establishing an open and obvious danger is a very fact-based determination that will require analysis of past court cases. Your lawyer will be critical in defending against an assertion that the danger was open and obvious.
- Assumption of the risk. If a visitor is made aware of a risk but still chooses to perform the risky activity, they are deemed to have assumed the risk. Examples include involvement in recreational activities like skiing and snowboarding.
- Lack of knowledge. If the property owner did not know the hazard, they do not owe a duty to a licensee. Because of the heightened duty owed to invitees, the property owner must be able to show there is no reasonable way to have known of the risk to avoid liability.
An experienced premises liability attorney will work with you to analyze the facts surrounding your accident to defend against any of the above assertions by the property owner.
Q: How much will I recover for my injuries after a premise liability accident?
If your accident was caused by a property owner’s failure to live up to the required duty of care, that owner is responsible for all resulting injuries.
Work with your lawyer to prepare a comprehensive damages demand that includes:
- Medical Costs: Keep track of all medical costs associated with your injuries, including emergency transportation, doctor bills, costs of procedures, and prescription medication. If your injury requires ongoing medical attention, include an estimate of future costs.
- Loss of Income: Many injuries limit the victim’s ability to return to work at full capacity. The defendant is responsible for these lost wages as well as future lost wages and diminished future earning potential.
- Emotional Distress: Many premise liability accidents can also cause emotional distress, like anxiety, depression, or PTSD. The defendant is responsible for any distress resulting from the accident.
- Loss of Enjoyment: Injuries can severely limit a victim’s ability to participate in the activities that brought joy to their lives. Work with your lawyer to include an appropriate level of compensation if you have experienced a loss of enjoyment because of your injuries.
- Punitive Damages: Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant and opportunities for punitive damages are very limited in Massachusetts. Your lawyer can advise whether punitive damages are available based on the facts of your case.
Having a solid understanding of your full scope of damages will enable you to critically assess any settlement offers made by the defendant or their insurance providers.
Q: What should I do after my accident?
Your priority after an accident should be your own health and safety. Seek immediate medical attention if necessitated by your injuries. Securing prompt medical attention ensures that you receive the care you deserve and also keeps the defendant from arguing that any delay increased the severity of your injuries.
Other important actions to consider include:
- Get a police report. Calling the police to the scene will ensure that all the details of the accident are officially documented, including pictures of the accident location and any unsafe conditions as well as witness reports and contact information. If you aren’t able to secure a police report, make sure to compile your own documentation if you are able.
- Keep track of paperwork. You may start to feel like you are surrounded by paperwork after an accident but avoid the desire to throw it out. This paperwork will be important evidence as you build your case against the defendant. Critical paperwork includes medical bills, medical records, and communication from insurance companies.
- Avoid public statements. Consult with your attorney before making any public statements about the accident or your injuries, including on social media. The defendant could use an innocent post against you. For example, if you posted a picture of your feet in hiking boots, the defendant might use it to demonstrate that you can get out and be active which could diminish the strength of a claim that you are unable to perform required work tasks.
One of the first things your lawyer will do is discuss any watch-outs while you work on securing recovery from the defendant. Be sure to discuss any activity that might impact your case with your attorney.
Q: Can I bring a lawsuit against the property owner at any time?
No. Massachusetts places a time limit on the ability to file a lawsuit against a negligent property owner. Any lawsuit must be filed within three years of the accident. This deadline ensures that evidence is still fresh, including the recollections of any witnesses. While three years sounds like a long time, it will pass quickly as you manage injury recovery, gather evidence, and prepare a case strategy. If the statute of limitations passes, talk to your attorney to see if any exceptions exist, such as delayed identification of your injuries.
If a premises liability accident injures you in Boston, contact Jacoby & Meyers, LLP today for your free case consultation. Our firm works with each client to assess the specific facts of their cases to prepare the strongest case for recovery. With our firm, you can expect clear and consistent communication and top-of-the-line advocacy.
Contact an Experienced Boston Premises Liability Attorney Today
A skilled Boston premises liability attorney can be the key to your recovery after a Boston premises liability incident. Your lawyer can assess your status at the time of the injury and determine the duty of care owed by the property owner. They can work with you to build a case against the property owner, prepare a damages demand, and assess any settlement offers from a defendant and their insurer. A personal injury lawyer can also take on the burden of communicating with the defendant, their insurance provider, and the other parties’ attorneys.
The team at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP has the experience to provide all of these services compassionately and professionally. We understand that communication is key to a strong attorney-client relationship, and we strive to keep all communication consistent, clear, and straightforward. We also provide our clients with free, secure online access to their case files through our website, allowing clients to check in on their cases at the times that are most convenient to them.
If you or a loved one was injured in a premise liability accident in Boston, MA, contact Jacoby & Meyers, LLP today at (877) 472-3061 or through our website for your free case evaluation. Our firm is committed to providing affordable legal representation, and will only charge a legal fee if we are successful in recovering money on your behalf.
“If it were not for the integral legal team of experts at Jacoby & Meyers I would not be where I am today with my recovery. I highly recommend hiring Jacoby & Meyers should you ever find yourself injured in an accident, and an individual or company needs to be held accountable for their negligence.” -C.J.
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