Property owners in Massachusetts have a legal obligation to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of any legal visitor that steps on to their property. Legal visitors may include:
- Business invitees: People with an express or implied invite onto the property (e.g., customers at a store).
- Social guests: People who are welcome visitors.
- Licensees: People who enter the property, with owner’s consent, for their own purposes or as guests.
Trespassers are not counted as legal visitors and therefore, property owners do not owe them the same level of carer as they owe legal visitors.
Recovering compensation after a slip-and-fall
When someone slips and falls on someone’s property, they may have a right to recover compensation from the owner of the property on which the accident occurred. In Massachusetts, you have three years from the date of the injury to file a personal injury or premises liability claim.
To prove that the owner was liable for your injury, you must establish the following:
- There was a dangerous condition on the premises that caused your accident (e.g., broken step or icy sidewalk).
- The property owner had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition.
- The property owner failed to take reasonable steps to fix the dangerous condition or warn of the dangerous condition.
- You suffered injuries and/or damages as a result of the accident.
How to prove premises liability
Slip-and-fall victims may present accident reports, photos and videos of the scene of the accident, witness testimony, expert testimony, and other evidence to build their case.
Keep in mind that property owners will likely try to defend against the claim by alleging that the victim was liable for his or her own accident. However, slip-and-fall accident victims who are less than 51 percent liable for their accident can still recover damages, reduced based on their percentage of fault.