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Articles Posted in Premises Liability

Property owners have a general obligation to ensure that persons who legally enter their buildings are not exposed to hazardous conditions. If they fail to do so and people suffer injury as a result, they can be held accountable for damages in a civil case. However, as stated in a recent ruling delivered in a Massachusetts premises liability case, the duty to safeguard business invitees from harm does not extend to the property’s insurers. If you were injured in an accident on someone else’s property, you might be owed damages, and you should contact a Massachusetts personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.

The Harm Sustained by the Plaintiff

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff was a plumber. He fell into a sump hole in a basement that was filled with scorching water while servicing a boiler at a house. The sump was connected to the boiler’s drain valves when it was installed in 2001, allowing water to drain away from the boiler. Following his injury, the plaintiff filed a complaint, naming as defendants the insurance and reinsurance firms that provided coverage for the premises, as well as the adjuster who worked for the insurance company that conducted a boiler check in 2015.

According to reports, the plaintiff claimed that as part of the inspection, the defendants had a duty to detect the open sump’s risks. The defendants moved for summary judgment, and the trial court granted the defendants’ motion. The plaintiff appealed, but on appeal, the trial court’s decision was upheld. Continue Reading ›

Massachusetts’ workers’ compensation laws generally preclude people who suffer injuries in the workplace from pursuing civil claims against their employers. People hurt at work may be able to recover damages from third parties that contributed to or caused their harm, however. Generally, they must establish that the negligence of the third party caused their harm; otherwise, they will be denied compensation, as demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts personal injury case. If you were injured at work, you should meet with a skillful Cape Cod personal injury lawyer to determine whether you may be able to pursue claims against parties other than your employer.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff worked for a roofing company. The defendant hired the plaintiff’s employer to remove snow from a flat roof on an apartment building. While on the job site, the plaintiff fell off of the roof and sustained critical injuries. He then filed a lawsuit against the defendant, setting forth claims that it negligently failed to provide adequate fall protection on the roof.

Allegedly, prior to trial, he moved in limine for an order allowing him to introduce evidence of certain publications and regulations issued by OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration), but the court denied his motion. The jury attributed thirty percent of the fault for the accident to the defendant and seventy percent of the fault to the plaintiff, and therefore, returned a verdict in favor of the defendant. The plaintiff filed an appeal, asserting that the trial court erred in excluding the OSHA regulations. Continue Reading ›

Trip and fall accidents can cause significant injuries that are not only painful but also require substantial time and money to treat. In many cases, such incidents occur due to dangerous conditions that the injured party encounters when walking on someone else’s property. Whether the property owner will be deemed liable for harm suffered in a fall largely depends on whether the person who fell can show the owner knew or should have known of the issue that caused the person to trip. The evidence needed to prove actual or constructive notice was the topic of an opinion recently issued by a Massachusetts court in a case arising out of a trip and fall. If you were hurt in a fall, it is smart to speak to a trusted Cape Cod premises liability lawyer to assess your possible claims.

The Plaintiff’s Fall

Reportedly, the plaintiff attended a burial at a cemetery owned by the defendant municipality. After the ceremony concluded, he walked from the gravesite towards his car. He did not walk on a path but over other graves. At one point, he stepped on what he referred to as a soft spot, which created a deep hole. His left foot and ankle got caught in the hole, and he suffered significant injuries.

Allegedly, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant, asserting its negligence caused his fall. Prior to trial, the defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing it had not breached any duty owed to the plaintiff. After reviewing the evidence of the case, the court granted the defendant’s motion. Continue Reading ›

People rarely anticipate that they will sustain injuries while they are on vacation, but slip and fall accidents and other harmful events commonly occur at hotels and resorts. Parties injured in such incidents often choose to seek compensation from the property owners via civil claims. In cases in which the accident occurred in a foreign location, the claims will typically be filed in federal court, but in many instances, the defendant will argue such claims should be dismissed due to lack of jurisdiction. This was illustrated in a recent Massachusetts ruling in which the court discussed the exercise of personal jurisdiction in a matter arising out of an accident in St. Lucia. If you suffered harm due to a slip and fall accident, it is in your best interest to meet with an experienced Cape Cod premises liability attorney about your options.

The Plaintiff’s Claims

It is reported that the plaintiff, who is a Massachusetts resident, was a guest at the defendant resort when she slipped and fell in the area near the hot tub. She suffered serious injuries in the fall and subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant in the Massachusetts District court, asserting negligence claims. The defendant moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims for lack of personal jurisdiction, while the plaintiff argued she was entitled to jurisdictional discovery prior to her claims being dismissed. The court ultimately ruled in favor of the plaintiff and denied the defendant’s motion. Continue Reading ›

In some types of Massachusetts negligence cases, there are special requirements in addition to the usual steps for filing suit against the allegedly responsible party. For instance, a Cape Cod premises liability case involving a governmental entity may require notice of the accident to be given well before the time that the statute of limitations would otherwise run. If notice is not given, the plaintiff’s case is likely to fail, even if all other requirements are met.

Because of special situations like this, it is very important to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible after an injury caused by another’s neglect, recklessness, or carelessness. An attorney who focuses his or her practice on these types of cases can help you avoid procedural pitfalls that could end your case before you have your day in court.

Facts of the Case

in a recent (unreported) case, the plaintiff was a woman who filed suit against two defendants, a maritime academy and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, attempting to assert certain claims sounding in tort and contract. According to the plaintiff, she was injured when she fell during a boat ride on the academy’s premises on September 24, 2016. The plaintiff’s attorney sent a letter of presentation to the defendant academy on or about March 10, 2017, purportedly advising the defendant academy of the plaintiff’s claims. The letter was, in turn, forwarded to the defendant academy’s insurance company. After more information was requested, a second, more-detailed letter and settlement demand was sent to the defendant academy’s counsel by the plaintiff’s attorney on August 23, 2017.

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In a Cape Cod premises liability lawsuit, the duty of care that a landowner owes to an individual who comes upon his or her property can vary from case to case. One of the primary considerations is whether the individual had the landowner’s invitation or implied permission to be on the property or whether he or she was a trespasser.

Usually, trespassers are owed a lower duty of care than those who are on another’s property with permission. However, this is not always so.

Facts of the Case

In a recent (unreported) appellate case, the plaintiffs were the administrators of the estate of a 17-year-old high school student who drowned in a swimming pool that belonged to the defendant city. According to the record on appeal, the student was a trespasser and gained access to the pool through the girls locker room (an area in which had no authority to enter). The depth of the water was not marked on the pool, and the student was not able to swim. In their wrongful death lawsuit, the plaintiffs sought compensation based on a theory of negligence and premises liability. The defendant filed a motion seeking summary judgment as to the plaintiffs’ claims against it. The trial court granted the motion, and the plaintiffs appealed.

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In a Cape Cod premises liability case, evidence regarding the accident scene can be crucially important. Without photographs or video surveillance of the place where the accident happened, it can be difficult for the plaintiff to convince the jury that the landowner was negligent in creating the dangerous condition that caused the accident or, if a third party caused the situation, in allowing the condition to persist past the time that a reasonable property owner would have noticed and corrected the issue(s).

Of course, not every piece of evidence is as reliable as it might first appear. There is technology available that can alter the appearance of both photographs and videos, a fact to which anyone who has skimmed through a fashion magazine can attest.

The case described below dealt with a situation in which the image shown in the photograph was real; it accurately reflected the scene at the time it was taken. However, there may have been a discrepancy regarding when the party offering the photographs into evidence said the picture was taken and when it was actually taken.

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One of the more common defenses in a Cape Cod premises liability lawsuit is an assertion by the defendant that the condition was so open and obvious that any reasonable person would have noticed it and avoided it. Of course, each case must stand on its own facts when it comes to such matters.

Even if a particular case involves a condition that was arguably open and obvious, the case will not necessarily be futile. Liability may still be had in a case against a premises owner under some circumstances.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case was the personal representative of the estate of a customer who sustained serious personal injuries when she fell down an unmarked step in the defendant restaurant’s dining room. The customer filed a personal injury lawsuit against the restaurant, alleging that its negligence had been the proximate cause of her fall. The case was tried to a jury and resulted in a verdict in favor of the customer. (Some time after the trial, the customer apparently died, and the personal representative of her estate was substituted as plaintiff.) The restaurant filed an appeal, seeking review of case and asserting numerous errors.

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A Cape Cod wrongful death or personal injury lawsuit cannot succeed unless the plaintiff is able to prove that the defendant’s negligence caused the accident victim’s death or physical harm. This must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence, via legally admissible evidence.

Of course, this assumes that the case ultimately makes its way into a courtroom and is tried in front of a judge and jury. It is important to note that there are a lot of steps that may occur before this happens.

First and foremost, the court in which the suit is filed must have jurisdiction over the case. This encompasses both the right to adjudicate the subject matter of the suit and also power over the particular defendants, a concept known as “personal jurisdiction.”

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The first question that must be answered in any Cape Cod wrongful death or personal injury lawsuit is, “Did the defendant owe a duty of care to the plaintiff?” The answer to this inquiry can be impacted by state statutes, existing case law, local ordinances, the particular facts of the case, the relationship between the parties, and various other matters.

If the defendant did owe a duty of care to the plaintiff, the next step is to determine whether the duty was breached. If it was, then the issue turns to the question of causation and, then, damages. Only if the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care, breached that duty, and thereby proximately caused legal damages to him or her may the case be resolved in the plaintiff’s favor.

If the answer to the duty question is “no,” the case ends there – unless the trial court’s judgment is appealed, of course. Then, a higher court may take a look at the case to determine whether a mistake was made in the lower tribunal. Only if the appealing party can convince the appellate court that a reversible error was made will there be a reversal of the lower court’s decision and a reinstatement of the plaintiff’s complaint.

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