Articles Posted in Stairwell Accidents

With the snow and ice of New England winters comes an increased risk of winter weather-related slip and fall accidents. If you fall in a public place, due to snow or ice, what are your rights?

Most snow and ice-related slip and fall accidents occur on sidewalks and in parking lots. Property owners must exercise reasonable care in keeping these areas well maintained at all times, including during wintry weather conditions. A business or property owner who fails to promptly remove snow and ice may be liable if someone is injured. A MA personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident.

When it comes to public businesses, such as malls, grocery stores, and restaurants, property owners often contract with snow and ice removal companies to maintain their parking lots and sidewalks. Ultimately, it is up to the property owner to ensure that these areas are safe. If, for example, the contractor doesn’t show up with a plow during a snow storm, the property owner must still figure out a way to remove the snow. It might be time to call another contractor, or the property owner may just need to pick up a shovel.

Reasonable Care

All of that being said, customers and the general public must also use reasonable care when walking or driving in a snowy or icy area. If a customer – who wants to quickly get inside the warm store – sprints across the parking lot during a snow storm, he is not exercising reasonable caution. A Boston slip and fall accident attorney can help you recover damages if you have been injured by another’s negligence.

Natural Accumulation

It is difficult, if not impossible, for a parking lot to be kept entirely clear of snow during a blizzard. A property owner’s responsibility, therefore, is not to keep walkways and parking areas free of snow and ice, but to keep them “reasonably” free of snow and ice. Some states have what is known as the “natural accumulation” rule, which holds that a property owner is not liable as long as she did not interfere with the natural accumulation of snow. This was also the case in MA until 2010, when the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) overturned a 125-year old rule, replacing it with the “reasonable person” standard.

The SJC made the following statement: “If a property owner knows or reasonably should know of a dangerous condition on its property, whether arising from an accumulation of snow or ice, or rust on a railing, or a discarded banana peel, the property owner owes a duty to lawful visitors to make reasonable efforts to protect against the danger.” 

Take Pictures

If you are injured in a slip and fall accident, it is crucial to document your case in as detailed a manner as possible. Photographs provide some of the most compelling evidence, and they should be taken as soon as possible following the accident. This is especially true when snow and ice are involved, as weather conditions can change quickly and without warning. If you have been injured, photograph your injuries and the scene of the accident. With today’s smart phones, most of us have a good camera at our fingertips at all times. If you are unable to take pictures, ask a witness if he or she could do so on your behalf. Also, be sure to ask any witnesses for their contact information, in case you need to ask them a question about the accident at a later date. Continue reading

A New Jersey family is filing suit against Simon Property Group and an escalator manufacturer after a terrifying escalator incident in a Pennsylvania mall resulted in the amputation of a 7-year-old’s toes on his right foot in 2014.

According to NJ.com, the boy and his family were shopping at the Oxford Valley Mall (owned by Simon Property Group) in Langhorne, Penn. on Dec. 14, 2014 when the boy’s foot became trapped in the escalator while he was riding it down.

The boy’s foot became trapped off the side of one of the steps, and then kept moving downward, but luckily somebody was vigilant and responded quick enough to hit the emergency stop button on the escalator, preventing more tragic damage.

When icy walkways, cluttered aisles, or dimly lit hallways result in a slip and fall accident, you may be entitled to damages for injuries. But what if you fall down the stairs? Can negligence play a role in stairwell falls. The answer is – absolutely.

You may think that all stairwells are created equal, but they actually come in all shapes, sizes, and conditions. When stairwells are poorly designed, constructed, or maintained, or if lighting is poor, the risk of serious injuries and death is a very real concern. If you have suffered injuries due to a stairwell fall, contact a Boston personal injury lawyer today.

If a stairwell is improperly designed or constructed, it can result in falls. Dangerous stairwells aren’t necessarily old and in disrepair. A brand new stairwell can be poorly designed and / or constructed. For example, if the designer miscalculated appropriate depth on some of the steps, this would fall under the category of poor design. If the designer’s plans were accurate, but the construction crew mistakenly made some of the steps too short or too wide, this would be an example of poor construction. Alternatively, if the steps were designed and constructed perfectly, but wear and tear has made a step wobbly, this could indicate poor maintenance.

Tragedy struck the sports world yet again this weekend, as another fan fell to his death while leaving a football stadium in California.

The man, whose name has not yet been released, fell on Sunday afternoon from the elevated Jamestown walkway that travels around Candlestick Park, where the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers were playing.

Off-duty paramedics and police offers tried to help the man, but the man had already passed. Initial eyewitness reports indicated that the man was intoxicated at the time of the incident, though investigators are still trying to determine what caused the man to fall.

1033829_baseball_park_fans.jpgFan safety has been a very important topic in professional sports, as fan injuries have become more and more prevalent at sports stadiums. Also this weekend, some rowdy fans from the University of Maryland were injured after a section of bleachers collapsed at Ludwig Field during a soccer match against Duke. Last month a 30-year old Atlanta Braves fan died during a baseball game at Turner Field when he fell nearly 70 feet from the upper viewing deck.

Premises Liability Cases

When incidents like this occur, the first questions people usually ask are “Why did this happen?” and “Who is responsible?” People are also concerned about how the incident could have been prevented and how future similar incidents could be prevented. Referring back to an earlier blog we posted about fan injuries in stadiums, there are several things that can explain the legal responsibility a stadium owner has to a fan that has been injured while at the vicinity.

Owners and managing companies of these large stadiums are fully aware of the types of risks posed to individuals who visit their establishments, and often tickets to sporting events or concerts are printed with a disclaimer and assumption of potential risk statement. These statements essentially mean that by purchasing the ticket, the guest understands the risk for injury and assumes responsibility should he or she be injured at the stadium. The statements also relieve the stadium’s owners or managers from assuming legal liability for the injured person.
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On January 7, oral arguments are scheduled to begin in the appeal of Our House East bar and its owners over a $6.7M Boston stairwell accident death award granted to the family of Northeastern University student Jacob Freeman. The 21-year-old died in 2007 two days after he fell down the stairs leading to the basement of the popular pub and restaurant and sustained a serious head injury. The case is before Massachusetts’s Supreme Judicial Court.

Although the jury found the defendants not liable in Freeman’s fatal Boston fall accident, Judge Elizabeth Fahey ordered the bar and its owners to pay $6.7M in damages. She said that the pub’s failure to get the necessary permit for the stairs was a violation of Massachusett’s consumer protection laws and that there had been a lack of compliance with state building code.

The defendants, however, are appealing the award. They contend that seeing as jury did not find them liable for Freeman’s fatal fall, Fahey’s decision to impose damages was a mistake. They also maintain that customers were not allowed on the stairs. Meantime, the Massachusetts premises liability lawyers of Freeman’s family remain adamant that the judge’s decision to issue the award was a well-thought-out ruling.

State officials are ordering a statewide investigation of escalators, after 4-year-old Mark DiBona fell two stories down an escalator in a Sears store at the Auburn Mall on Friday. The Dudley boy landed on a store display and sustained serious injuries during the Massachusetts escalator accident. He died the following day.

Earlier this week, two inspectors were suspended because they did not block off a gap at the top of the escalator. Although the gap should have only been 4 inches wide, it was 6 ¼ inches. A barricade should have been placed between the wall and the side of the escalator to restrict the opening’s size. All escalators that the two inspectors checked will be looked at again.

There are about 975 escalators in the state. Each one is inspected annually.

A judge has awarded the family of Jacob Freeman $6.8 million in Boston wrongful death damages. Freeman, a Northeastern University Student, died nearly four years ago after falling down a flight of stairs at Our House East, a Boston bar on Gainsborough Street.

In her Boston premises liability ruling, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Elizabeth M. Fahey noted that even though Freeman’s BAC was .208 when he fell down the stairs going to the basement in the early hours of April 1, 2007, the staircase was poorly lit, lacked a landing, possessed inadequate railings, and was hazardous in other ways. She also notes that vinyl stripes likely made it hard for Freeman to see that there was a staircase there.

Fahey says that she ordered Gainsboro Restaurant Inc. to pay damages on the grounds that not only did the bar ignore the safety hazards that the stairs presented-no repairs were made following two previous incidents of people falling there-but also for decades the bar had been violating the city’s permitting process, including never getting the permit required to run a bar.

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