Premises liability determines who is responsible if you are injured on a specific type of property. Whether it’s a home or a business, someone is at fault.
On residential properties, homeowners or tenants may be liable for injuries on the property in question. Property owners have a duty to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition for people on the property lawfully. Injured people can make a claim against a property owner if they can prove that the owner breached this standard duty of care and that led to the injury. Assuming the injured party was lawfully present, the question in this type of litigation is namely: what condition was the property in at it pertains to the injury? Was the condition unreasonable for the property owner to leave unrepaired? Things get a bit complex when a landlord is leasing property to a tenant. The general rule is that the residential landlord is responsible for repairs that he had reason to know were required, even if the property is leased to a tenant.
Commercial properties are similar. A business owner has a duty to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition and to warn people lawfully on the property of any unreasonable dangers. To successfully bring suit the plaintiff must prove that there was a defect, that the defendant should have known of the defect, and failed to do so in a reasonable amount of time. A commercial landlord cannot be held liable for dangerous conditions on a leased property. The primary recourse is suit against the actual tenant.
That being said, property owners will not be held liable for unreasonable injuries that are considered a part of everyday life or “open and obvious.” A homeowner will not be faulted if someone trips over something that is reasonably expected to be a part of the home. For example, a step up into an elevated other room is considered expected. A homeowner will likely not be held liable if somebody trips over this step.
An injured party has the option of filing an insurance claim against the property owner’s insurer, or by filing a personal injury lawsuit. Premises liability insurance applies when injuries are a result of negligence, and often account for up to $1 million in damages. These claims are almost always satisfied by insurance proceedings.
Once the suit is brought, you should know that Massachusetts recognizes “shared fault.” This means that if you are partially responsible for your injury this may affect your right or the extent to which you can be compensated. If a jury finds that the plaintiff is more than 50% at fault for the injury, they cannot recover at all. If, however, the plaintiff is 50% or less at fault, they can recover, but the recovery will be diminished in proportion to their fault. For example, if the total compensation is $10,000, and the plaintiff is 10% at fault, they can only recover $9,000.
You should know that there is statute of limitation for personal injury lawsuits of this sort. Contact us today if you have cause to bring a personal injury suit. We have an experienced team of premises liability attorneys prepared to get your claim started for you. There may be more than one party liable for your injury, and we will evaluate all of your options.
For your free case evaluation with an experienced Boston, Massachusetts premises liability lawyer at Altman & Altman call 617.492.3000 or 800.481.6199 (toll free) or contact us online.