Articles Posted in Slip and Fall

Federal and state laws mandate that the construction industry follow a strict protocol to ensure that their sites are safe and free from unreasonable dangers. However, despite these health and safety measures, Massachusetts construction site accidents continue to occur at an alarming rate. Although the state bars many lawsuits against construction employers under workers’ compensation, other responsible parties may be liable for the accident. Liability depends on the facts and circumstances of the injury-causing incident.

The United States Department of Labor (DOL) specifies that four construction accidents often lead to the most serious injuries. Falls are the leading cause of serious injury and death in the construction industry. Massachusetts construction site falls often result from improperly constructed or guarded scaffolding or unprotected and unmarked ledges. Further, falls often result from defective ladders or falling debris that causes an individual to slip or trip-and-fall. Moreover, falls are more likely to occur during inclement weather, when surfaces become slick or obstructed. Additionally, unmarked elevator shafts and trenches often pose deadly hazards. Although some accidents are unavoidable, many can be prevented by following health and safety regulations. Also, injury by falling objects, electrocutions, and “caught-in-between”, accidents are the remaining “fatal four” most dangerous incidents.

Recently, a national news report described a fatal Boston construction site accident. Authorities responded to a call that two people were struck by a vehicle near a construction site. When they arrived, they discovered two construction workers trapped in a hole; sadly, they were pronounced dead. Witnesses explained that they saw a dump truck hit the construction workers, causing the men to slide across the hole. One of the men was run over by the dump truck an additional time. The Boston Police Department and Occupational Safety and Health Administration are working together to investigate the incident. They stated that a few years prior, two construction workers drowned in a trench when a fire hydrant collapsed. In that case, the owner of the drain company performing the job was sentenced to two years in jail for involuntary manslaughter.

New England winter weather can be treacherous, especially for those who do not have experience handling inclement conditions. Although October is the month that sees the highest number of Massachusetts car accidents, winter weather generally increases the likelihood of car accidents, slip-and-falls, and other types of personal injury. In Massachusetts, those that suffer injuries in a car accident or other incident because of another’s negligence may be able to recover for their damages. However, snow and ice-related accidents can present many challenges to injury victims as the circumstances surrounding these accidents may not be clear. It is important that injury victims consult with an attorney to discuss their rights and remedies in these cases.

Many premises liability accidents stem from snow and ice slip-and-falls, trip-and-falls, and step-and-falls. These accidents may occur when a property owner fails to remove snow or ice from their home or business. The failure to make a property safe may result in serious injuries to a visitor or guest. The most common injuries from a snow or ice accident are broken bones, concussions, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, and organ damage. In many cases, these injuries require both emergency and long-term medical treatment. Even with insurance, these medical treatments are often costly and may deter the victim’s ability to continue gainful employment. In these cases, victims should pursue damages against the negligent party.

In some snow and ice accidents, liability may be evident, especially in situations where it is clear that a property owner failed to make their property safe, or an at-fault driver was acting negligently in operating their vehicle. However, cases are rarely straightforward, and defendants may blame the victim and avoid liability under the state’s comparative negligence or assignment laws. For example, an at-fault driver may argue that the injury victim suddenly braked their vehicle, thereby causing the rear-end driver to slam into them. Moreover, a property owner may try to attribute liability to a third-party hired to remove snow from the owner’s business or home. However, despite the legal theories that defendants may purport to avoid liability, winter weather can lead to disastrous accidents.

Under Massachusetts law, individuals who suffer a fall on another’s property may be entitled to compensation for the injuries they sustained. However, Massachusetts slip and fall lawsuits are rarely as straightforward as they may seem. Plaintiffs in these cases must meet their evidentiary burden to recover against the negligent property owner.

Generally, plaintiffs possess the burden of proof in Massachusetts personal injury cases, and defendants do not need to prove that they are not liable for the victim’s injuries. Massachusetts premises liability law provides that property owners have a duty to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition for lawful visitors. As a threshold requirement, plaintiffs who want to recover against a property owner must be able to establish negligence. Slip and fall plaintiffs must be able to show that the property owner owed the visitor a duty of care, they breached that duty, and that breach caused the victim an injury.

Massachusetts slip and fall plaintiffs must be able to prove by a “preponderance of the evidence” that the property owner violated their duty based on the general public’s views regarding acceptable behavior. Premises liability cases often vary depending on the type of property, visitor, and accident. However, regardless of the circumstances, most plaintiffs face challenges when trying to prove that the property owner did not take “reasonable” steps to keep their condition in “reasonably” safe condition. Issues often arise because reasonableness can be subjective, and the existence of a duty to act reasonably does not necessarily amount to negligence. Further, the law does not impose a burden on landowners to maintain their property in a way that ensures absolute safety for unforeseeable events.

Anyone who has lived through a Boston winter knows that they are no joke. In fact, each year, Boston gets about 47 inches of rain and 48 inches of snow. Both of these figures are significantly higher than the national average, which is 38 inches of rain and 28 inches of snow. Given this reality, it is no surprise to learn that winter slip and fall accidents are a significant source of injury in Boston.

Many slip and fall accidents are caused by accumulations of snow or ice in parking lots, sidewalks, and entryways. As a general matter of Massachusetts premises liability law, Boston businesses have a duty to those their customers to ensure that the property is safe and free of potentially hazardous defects. The accumulation of snow or ice is no exception.

However, that was not always the case. It used to be that businesses could only be liable for unnatural accumulations of snow or ice on their property. An example of an unnatural accumulation of snow is a pile of snow that was pushed to one side of the parking lot to clear the rest of the lot. Under the previous law, if a person was injured due to a natural accumulation of snow, the business owner could not be held liable. However, in a 2010 opinion, the state’s high court reversed the century-long distinction between natural and unnatural accumulations.

Personal injury cases are complex at every stage. If you’ve been hurt in an accident that you believe was caused by someone else’s negligence, we are here to help. Our Massachusetts injury attorneys understand the both the substantive and procedural aspects of the law that are critical to every case, and we will make sure that absolutely nothing is overlooked.

In a recent case, the Massachusetts Appeals Court concluded that “garden variety oversight” by defense lawyers was not sufficient grounds to permit more time to file an appeal. The plaintiff in the case was hurt while working as he maneuvered a pallet from a truck onto a loading dock over a dock plate. The incident led to the man needing hip surgery and he was not able to go back to work. The man sued alleging that the defendants were negligent in failing to maintain the dock plate, thereby causing the accident and resulting injuries. The plaintiff stated that he was told by a coworker that there had been an issue with the dock place for “some time.” At the end of the trial, the jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff.

The defendants filed a motion, within the proper time frame, requesting a new trial or a remittitur. On February 12, 2018, the trial court judge denied the defendant’s motion and the 30 day clock for filing an appeal began to run. The defendants, however, failed to file a notice of appeal within the 30-day time frame. Rather, approximately 8 days after the 30-day deadline, they filed a motion to extend the time to file notice of appeal. The trial court granted the motion. On April 2, 2018, an estimated 49 days after their post-trial motion was denied, the defendants filed an appeal. In response, the plaintiff filed a cross appeal, challenging the trial court’s judge’s decision to permit the defendants to file their late appeal.

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If you have been hurt in a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property, you may have legal options. At The Law Offices of Barry Feinstein & Affiliates, P.C., our seasoned Massachusetts injury attorneys are committed to getting our clients the justice and compensation they rightfully deserve for the harm that they have suffered. With years of experience, we are prepared to represent you in negotiating a settlement agreement or in proving your claim in court.

In a recent Massachusetts court decision, the plaintiff stepped into an uneven depression in the road and sustained a severe injury to her left foot. She informed the City of Boston of her claim within the time frame required by Massachusetts General Laws c. 84, § 18, also known as the defective way statute, which mandates that a person injured due to a defect on a public way must send notice within thirty days after the injury to the, “county, city, town or person by law obliged to keep said way in repair.”

A few months later, the city sent the plaintiff a letter denying responsibility and informing her that a gas company was actually responsible for her injuries. The plaintiff then sent notice to the gas company and filed her Complaint in the Superior Court against the City of Boston and the gas company. The gas company filed a motion to dismiss the claim due to the late notice under the statute. The court denied the motion and the case went to trial.

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A slip and fall accident can leave you with serious injuries and may interfere with your ability to earn a living. If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, you might be able to recover monetary damages for your harm. At The Law Offices of Barry Feinstein & Affiliates, P.C., our trusted Massachusetts slip and fall attorneys are committed to aggressively protecting your rights and holding negligent property owners responsible.

The Holden Case

A Massachusetts Superior Court case recently discussed the accountability that can accompany the effects of snow, ice, rain and other adverse weather conditions. In Holden v. Wal-Mart Stores East, LP, the judge questioned the long established “transitory water doctrine,” which has often shielded property owners from liability. The courts stated that it was a question of fact whether a shop owner can be held responsible for a slip and fall resulting from water brought into the property by another customer’s boots on a rainy day.

In the case at hand, a customer entered a Wal-Mart store on a rainy day. Upon entering, the customer fell because of water accumulation on the tile floor due to water that had been tracked in by other customers. Specifically, she slipped between the door and a mat, which was located a few feet away. The woman sued Wal-Mart for her injuries. Wal-Mart moved for summary judgment, claiming that the transitory water doctrine barred the plaintiff’s claim.

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During winter months in Massachusetts, the chances of suffering a serious injury from routine activities such as walking or running can increase significantly due to slippery surfaces caused by snow and ice. If you or loved one has been hurt in a slip and fall accident on snow or ice, you should contact a reputable Massachusetts personal injury attorney immediately. At The Law Offices of Barry Feinstein & Affiliates, P.C., we understand the nuances of this area of law and can apply our insights and experience to your case.

Slip and Fall Accidents

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that unintentional falls account for approximately 19,565 deaths annually in the US. About 20 to 30 percent of individuals who undergo a slip and fall suffer moderate to serious injuries including bruises, hip fractures and/or head injuries. Snow, ice and freezing temperatures tend to significantly increase the risk of slip and fall injuries. Black ice is perhaps the most dangerous aspect of winter because it is virtually impossible to see to those walking on it. As such, the accident rate on black ice can be up to five times higher than on dry surfaces.

Liability for Slip and Fall Accidents 

Under the old rule in Massachusetts, a property owner could not be held liable for injuries on their property arising from a natural accumulation of snow and ice. The previous law did not consider the natural accumulation of snow and ice as an actionable property defect. Thus, old cases hinged on whether the accumulation of snow or ice was “natural” or not.

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Property owners have a legal obligation to make sure their property is in safe condition. Trip hazards can lead to dangerous falls that can cause serious and long-term injuries. If you or a loved one was injured in preventable trip and fall accident, you need to consult a seasoned Massachusetts personal injury lawyer who may be able to help you recover the damages you deserve. With a free consultation, we can help set you in the right direction.

Establishing Fault in Trip and Fall Cases

When negligence on the part of the property owner is the reason for a trip and fall accident, the accident victim may be able to recover damages through a premises liability claim. Property owners, managers and operators have a legal responsibility to keep their premises in reasonably safe and well-maintained conditions to prevent slip or trip and call accidents. Generally speaking, property owners have an obligation to make sure there are no dangerous conditions on the land that could cause injury. If such conditions exist and cannot be remedied immediately, the property owner should put up signs or a warning indicating visitors of the potential hazard. Premises liability cases are complex and we will need to examine the circumstances of your accident in order to determine the viability of your claim.

Restaurants are often busy places with employees rushing to make sure customers are seated and their orders are promptly arriving at their tables. This can also make restaurants dangerous places if slip and fall hazards are not addressed. If you or someone close to you has been injured in a slip and fall accident at a restaurant, you need to reach out to a seasoned Massachusetts slip and fall attorney who can help. At The Law Offices of Barry Feinstein & Affiliates P.C. , we are committed to getting our clients the compensation they rightfully deserve after such an accident.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were more than 50,000 reported injuries in the restaurant industry in 2016. Many of these incidents involved slip and fall accidents. Between slippery floors due to spilled drinks or a fresh mop job, tight spaces, and heavy crowds, restaurants can put customers and employees at risk. In addition to slipping hazards, tripping hazards such as loose floorboards or exposed wiring can also lead to serious falls. BLS data reveal that there were almost 15,000 reported nonfatal slip, trip, and fall injuries in the restaurant industry in 2016. These falls caused varying injuries, with a median of six days away from work.

Property owners, including owners of retail establishments, have an obligation to keep their property in a reasonably safe condition in order not to cause injuries to those who enter the land. In Massachusetts, this obligation extends to all lawful entrants. When it comes to restaurants, part of a property owner’s responsibility is making sure that the space is clear of any debris or conditions that could result in an accident that causes injuries. Of course, sometimes hazards may arise. For example, a customer may spill a drink. In such a situation, a wet floor sign should immediately be placed in the area to warn guests of the danger, and the spill should be cleaned up as quickly as possible. If for some reason a hazard cannot be immediately addressed, the area should be closed off, or the warning sign should remain there until the hazard is remedied.

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