Every day, across Boston, residents and tourists alike get hurt when they encounter dangerous conditions on someone else’s property. Bostonians may slip on a wet floor that should have had a warning sign on it when they duck into a Government Center coffee shop for their morning double-shot of espresso. They may take a tumble after tripping over loose carpeting at a Copley Square hotel. They may fall from backyard balconies in Beacon Hill townhouses, and they may suffer burns in Brighton apartment house fires, among many other potential accidents.
Owners, occupants, and managers of the properties where these incidents and injuries happen often owe damages to the victims for their injuries under Massachusetts law. Lawyers refer to the lawsuits that hold those owners, occupants, and managers accountable as premises liability claims.
At Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman, Larry Nussbaum leads our Boston attorneys in representing individuals injured by unreasonably dangerous property conditions at residential, commercial, and publicly-owned properties throughout Boston. If you or a loved one suffered serious harm after a run-in with a property hazard in Boston that someone should have fixed or warned you about, then contact us today to learn more about your potential legal rights to seek compensation for your injuries and losses.
About Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman are affiliated, award-winning personal injury law firms that represent clients nationwide, including in Boston. From our base of operations in Florida, our lawyers fight to secure maximum compensation for clients who have suffered injuries because of someone else’s careless, reckless, or intentionally-harmful decisions or actions.
Our attorneys secure results for victims of premises liability injuries. We’ve recovered hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for our injured clients through settlements and jury verdicts. We cannot guarantee outcomes in the cases we handle, of course, but we can promise that our clients have a team of lawyers behind them who have the skill, knowledge, street smarts, and resources to win even the most complex and challenging cases.
Overview of Boston Premises Liability Law
The term premises liability does not ring a bell for many of our clients when they first hear it, but many have heard the closely-related term slip-and-fall. Both refer to the general idea that owners, occupants, and managers of Boston properties have legal obligations to ensure the safety of people who visit those properties.
In a nutshell, those obligations require property owners and others to take reasonable steps to fix, warn about, and/or keep visitors away from hazardous conditions that could cause them harm. Failing to live up to those obligations can make the property owner, occupant, or manager legally liable to a visitor who suffers an injury because of the hazardous condition.
This basic principle of premises liability applies for all types of Boston properties, including:
- Commercial properties, like restaurants, stores, bars, and office buildings
- Residential properties, from large apartment buildings to single-family homes
- Public properties, like city parks, sidewalks, T-stops, and government buildings
The duties that property owners and others owe to keep visitors safe vary based on the circumstances, because properties differ in their features, and so do the expectations of visitors.
Duties Owed to Lawful Visitors
When it comes to lawful visitors to a property—people who have express or implied permission to be there—the basic duty is to exercise reasonable care to keep a property in a safe condition. What constitutes reasonable care?
That depends on the circumstances. For example:
- For owners of commercial buildings, reasonable care requires compliance with building codes. Massachusetts law holds owners of commercial or public property strictly liable for any injury to a visitor resulting from a property condition that does meet a state building code. Strict liability means that the injured person does not need to show that the building owner was negligent in allowing the code violation to exist, only that the code violation existed and the victim suffered injuries as a result.
- Reasonable care may require fixing or eliminating hazardous property conditions, even ones that appear obvious to visitors.
- Reasonable care may also require warning visitors to a property about non-obvious property dangers.
- Reasonable care may require providing adequate security or taking other public safety precautions to secure a property against the potential for crime.
These are just some examples of what a Boston property owner, occupant, or manager must do to keep lawful visitors to a property safe from harm. The rule is general enough to capture just about any situation you might imagine in which a hazardous condition poses an unreasonable risk of harm to others. If you don’t know whether a property condition contributed to your injury on someone else’s premises in Boston, speak with an experienced premises liability attorney at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman today.
Duties Owed to Trespassers
Note that we said lawful visitors. In Massachusetts, property owners owe much lower obligations to adult trespassers, who are unlawful property visitors. Instead of requiring reasonable care toward trespassers, owners instead must only refrain from “willful, wanton, or reckless” conduct that could cause an adult trespasser harm.
Finally, Massachusetts law distinguishes child trespassers from others. Under the Massachusetts Child Trespasser Statute, a property owner must take reasonable care to prevent harm to child trespassers that may result from an “artificial condition” on the owner’s property.
This is a version of what lawyers refer to as the attractive nuisance doctrine, a rule that says that property owners should reasonably anticipate that children might try to play on or around certain types of property features that are inherently dangerous, like backyard swimming pools and trampolines, water towers, utility poles, and construction equipment.
Owners must take reasonable steps to secure those property features to prevent children from accessing them, and face legal liability for injuries a child suffers on or around them.
Common Premises Liability Scenarios in Boston
The laws described above often seem confusing to many non-lawyers, so let us give you some examples of situations in which Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman might represent an individual who suffers a personal injury on someone else’s property in Boston.
Slip and Fall Incidents
Perhaps the most common and typical premises liability situation involves a person losing their footing, falling, and suffering a serious injury. Slip and fall incidents commonly occur at commercial establishments, like stores and restaurants, but a preventable fall can occur in virtually any setting in Boston.
Here are some examples of slip-and-fall scenarios that we frequently see at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman:
- A restaurant or store patron slipping and falling on a wet floor that the owner failed to mop up or warn customers about
- A hotel guest tripping and falling on loose carpeting or cracked tiles
- A visitor to an apartment building falling on uneven, poorly-lighted stairs
- A fall from a balcony or backyard porch because of a broken or loose railing
- A guest at a dinner party falling on an icy front walk
These incidents might seem relatively harmless, but oftentimes, they can cause serious, even fatal, injuries. Head trauma, spinal injuries, and severely-broken bones can cause permanent disabilities for victims of falls, especially for older adults.
Recreation, Athletic, and Play-Related Accidents
Bostonians, particularly children and teens, often get hurt on someone else’s property while engaging in recreation, athletics, or play. As described above, property owners, occupants, and managers have special obligations to keep trespassing young people safe from harm on their premises, and owe all others a duty of reasonable care to keep them out of harm’s way.
Otherwise, accidents like the following may occur:
- Children falling from or getting injured by poorly-maintained or dangerous playground equipment
- Drownings and other injuries suffered in or around backyard swimming pools
- Crush-type injuries from the collapse of unsafe structures or piles of debris or building materials
- Severe orthopedic or blunt-force injuries from pitted or uneven playing fields, poorly-maintained or constructed ice-rinks, and other athletic facilities
- Falls from backyard trampolines resulting in spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries, or severe orthopedic injuries caused by dangerous play on trampolines
- Catastrophic and fatal injuries suffered on theme park and water park rides
No child, or anyone else, should suffer major injuries on someone else’s property in Boston. Contact the teams at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman today to learn more about seeking compensation for these tragic incidents.
Fires in residential and commercial buildings take the lives of Bostonians every year. Death and serious injury in a building fire often result from the careless or reckless actions of the building’s owner. Oftentimes, inspectors will find that the owner failed to maintain adequate fire safety systems, like sprinklers, smoke detectors, or fire extinguishers, or that building materials or fixtures failed to meet fire safety codes.
At Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman, our teams have experience working with victims of building fires and fire investigators to pinpoint the cause of a tragic fire and to establish how reasonable safety measures might have prevented it.
Massachusetts law holds dog owners strictly liable for injuries caused by their dogs to anyone other than trespassers or people who provoked the attack by teasing, taunting, or abusing the animal. Boston property owners, occupants, and managers also have obligations to take reasonable steps to prevent foreseeable injuries to visitors caused by other animals, whether domesticated or wild. Children often suffer the worst injuries in dog and other animal attacks. Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman lawyers fight to make sure victims and their families recover compensation for the physical and emotional trauma that they have endured.
Some injuries happen on someone else’s property in Boston through exposure to toxic substances and materials. Many of these injuries consist of slow-developing illnesses that emerge after years of working or living in toxic environments. It takes skill to prove liability in cases of toxic exposure. Insurance companies and defense counsel work hard in these cases to confuse the issues and to argue that something else caused a victim’s cancer or other health conditions.
At Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman, we have the know-how and resources to delve into the science and prove the cause of illnesses and injuries caused by toxic exposures.
How We Help Victims of Boston Premises Liability Injuries
Individuals who suffer preventable injuries on someone else’s property in Boston often know they need legal representation, but they might not always know how a lawyer can really help. In a nutshell, a lawyer can work on a victim’s behalf to obtain money from the parties at fault for the victim’s injuries and losses. The specific steps that law firms, like Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA or Sibley Dolman, will take for Boston premises liability victims can vary based on the circumstances.
However, our services often include:
- Investigating the incident or accident that caused our client’s injury, and identifying the persons whose dangerous decisions or actions played a role and should therefore pay our client damages
- Evaluating the harm our client has suffered, to determine the full amount of damages our clients should receive
- Planning a legal strategy for obtaining that compensation
- Communicating that strategy to our clients, in language our clients can understand, and following up with our clients regularly to make sure they know about the progress of the case
- Carrying out that strategy by taking legal action, such as filing a lawsuit in a Boston court or making a demand to an at-fault party’s insurance company
- Negotiating a fair settlement of our client’s claims, when possible
- Going to trial when necessary to secure the compensation our client deserves
Victims of Boston premises liability injuries should always insist on having quality legal representation from attorneys who can perform all tasks above with the highest skill and diligence, and who have a proven track record of success in premises liability cases. The award-winning attorneys of Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman fit that description perfectly. Contact us today.
Boston Premises Liability Lawyer FAQ
Victims of Boston premises liability accidents often have a slew of questions to ask about their legal and financial rights. The Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman teams are always happy to answer those questions. Below, we respond to some of the most frequently asked questions that we hear from premises liability victims. For answers to your specific questions about your rights after suffering injuries in a Boston premises liability incident, contact us today.
Can I sue for injuries I suffer on someone else’s property in Boston?
Your eligibility to file a lawsuit will depend on what happened and who is to blame. The best way to find out is to have a free consultation with a team of experienced premises liability lawyers, like the attorneys at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman.
Generally speaking, however, you can determine your eligibility to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for your injuries and losses by asking yourself a simple question: Did I get hurt, at least partially, because of a dangerous condition or situation that someone should have fixed, kept me away from, or warned me about? If you answer “yes,” “maybe,” or “I’m not sure” to that question, then it is worth talking to an experienced Boston premises liability lawyer to learn more about your rights.
Who may I sue after a Boston premises accident?
This, too, will depend on what happened, but if you’re eligible to file a lawsuit, then most of the time, there’s a decent chance that you can sue the Boston property owner, occupant, and/or manager for your injuries and losses.
You may also have rights to sue others who, while they may not have much connection to the property where your injury happened, may have contributed to your accident or incident through their own unreasonably dangerous decisions and actions, such as:
- The manufacturer of a product or equipment that played a role in you getting hurt. For example, the manufacturer of flooring tile coated with a sealant that is extremely slippery, or of a handrail anchored to a wall with defective hardware, might face legal liability in a slip-and-fall matter.
- The perpetrator of a violent crime, such as an assault, that occurred on someone else’s property
- The owner of an animal that attacks on someone else’s property
These are just some examples, of course. The facts of your specific case will decide who has a legal liability to you for damages. Talk to an experienced lawyer today to learn about who may owe you compensation for your injuries and losses.
What kinds of damages can I receive for my Boston premises injury case?
Every case is different, but generally, Boston premises liability injury victims can often recover compensation for:
- Medical expenses related to treating victims’ injuries, such as the cost of emergency care, hospitalization, doctor visits, physical therapy, and medication.
- Other expenses that victims may face due to their injuries, like the cost of modifying homes to accommodate a disability or of hiring help with daily activities.
- Past and future lost income resulting from victims missing work while healing from their injuries, or because their injuries keep them out of work temporarily or permanently.
- Pain, suffering, and reduced quality of life caused by victims’ injuries, which can also include damage done to their most personal relationships.
- In some cases, punitive damages, which aim to punish the person who caused the injuries, if that person engaged in extremely reckless or outrageous conduct.
The severity of a person’s injury, and the injury’s impact on his or her life, will usually determine how much money falls into each of the categories above. For that reason, there is no average amount of money a Boston premises liability injury victim can expect to recover through legal action. Also, the amount of money the at-fault party can pay to the victim can factor into how much money the victim might receive.
Keep in mind, too, that there are no guarantees of receiving compensation. Boston premises liability injury victims can give themselves the best possible shot at maximizing their compensation, however, by hiring experienced, skilled, award-winning premises liability attorneys from a law firm like Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman.
How long does it take to receive compensation for my Boston premises liability injuries?
You are probably getting a little tired of hearing this, but the answer to this question also depends on the facts of your case. Experienced attorneys, like those at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman, can sometimes resolve a case on a client’s behalf in a matter of weeks; however, other cases might take a year or more to reach a favorable conclusion.
Of course, as we said above, there are no guarantees, which is why every Boston premises liability victim should seek the help of an attorney who has the skill, knowledge, and resources to give the victim the best possible chance of securing a top-dollar result.
Most of the factors that affect how long it takes for a case to reach a successful outcome lie beyond the ability of a Boston premises liability victim or the victim’s attorney to control.
Those factors include:
- The number of parties involved in the lawsuit
- The degree of the dispute about who has liability for the injuries or the amount of appropriate damages
- The availability of evidence
- The severity of the victim’s injury and prognosis for recovery
- The personalities and working styles of the parties and their representatives
Victims of Boston premises liability injuries can, however, control one critical factor affecting the timeline for a claim for damages: when they speak with an experienced premises liability lawyer for the first time. The sooner victims take that important step, the sooner their lawyers can start working on their behalf, and the better their chances of recovering compensation.
What if I sustained an injury on someone else’s property while I was working?
Victims of Boston premises liability injuries who get hurt while on the job typically have different options and opportunities for recovering compensation. In Massachusetts, workers enjoy the benefits of workers’ compensation benefits, which covers workers against their medical and disability-related costs when they get sick or hurt in connection with work.
If you suffered injuries on someone else’s property while working, then you likely have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim. An experienced premises liability lawyer can often help you prepare that claim to ensure that you receive maximum compensation, or can help you appeal if you have filed a claim and had all or part of your claim denied.
In addition to workers’ compensation benefits, you may also have the right to file a lawsuit seeking additional compensation for your injuries and losses. In most cases, you cannot sue your employer or co-workers for injuries or illnesses you suffer at work. You may, however, have a legal claim against a third party whose actions or decisions contributed to the dangerous property conditions that caused your injury. For example, the manufacturer of defective equipment that played a role in causing your injury may have a legal liability to you for damages.
Do not assume that just because you suffered injuries in connection with your job, workers’ comp is your only source of compensation. Speak with an experienced Boston premises liability lawyer to explore whether you have additional options for securing payments for your injuries.
How much does a Boston premises liability lawyer cost?
Typically, it costs nothing unless your lawyer delivers results.
Most lawyers for victims of Boston premises liability injuries offer free consultations. It does not cost anything to speak with an experienced Boston premises liability lawyer from Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman about your case for the first time. In a free consultation, the victim can get a feel for the lawyer’s experience, results, and working style. The lawyer can ask the victim questions about what happened and give the victim an initial impression of whether he or she has a case.
In virtually all cases, Boston premises liability attorneys represent their clients on a contingent fee basis. This is an arrangement in which the lawyer and client agree that the lawyer’s fee will consist of a percentage of whatever money the lawyer secures for the client. The client does not have to pay the lawyer any money upfront, and the lawyer does not bill the client as the case goes along. In other words, the lawyer only gets paid if the client gets paid.
What can I do to help my Boston premises liability case?
First and foremost, you can get the medical care you need and follow your doctor’s advice. There is usually nothing more important in a Boston premises liability personal injury case than that.
Getting and following appropriate medical care serves three critical purposes in a premises liability case:
- First, it protects your health and puts you on the path to recovery, which is the top priority.
- Second, it serves to create records of your injury that a lawyer can use in a legal action seeking compensation on your behalf.
- Third, it protects you against a defense lawyer or insurance company claiming that you made your own injuries worse by taking care of yourself.
Always seek medical care after any incident on someone else’s property in which you suffer, or might have suffered, an injury. Never assume that just because you feel fine in the moments after the incident that you have, in fact, avoided injury. Human nature tends to make us feel embarrassed and eager not to make a big deal of an injury when it happens.
The stress and adrenaline that you feel after an incident may also mask your pain, and some potentially lethal or life-changing injuries―such as brain trauma―do not necessarily show symptoms immediately.
In other words, do not take chances with your health and wellbeing. Seek medical care right away, and do as your doctor tells you.
Aside from obtaining the medical care you need, it can also help your premises liability to follow these tips:
- Notify the property owner immediately of the accident or incident, and of the hazardous property condition involved that caused your injury. Telling someone connected to the property about your injury ensures there are witnesses to what happened.
- Do not accept freebies or other forms of in-kind compensation from the property owner. For example, if you fall and get hurt at a hotel, do not accept a free night’s stay as compensation. Taking that benefit could amount to a settlement that waives your legal rights.
- Say “no” to unsolicited settlement offers from insurance companies that contact you after your injury. These insurance companies represent the parties who may have a legal liability to you, and these companies’ goal is to get you to agree to a quick payment for far less than your claim is worth.
- Collect and save evidence relating to your Boston premises liability accident and injury. Take photos of the dangerous property condition that contributed to your injury, if possible. Keep all of the clothing you were wearing. Do not throw away insurance statements or medical bills. All of these items can serve as useful evidence in a personal injury case.
When should I contact a Boston premises liability lawyer?
You should reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. Under Massachusetts law, you have a limited amount of time to take legal action against the property owner, occupant, manager, or any other party who faces legal liability for your injuries and losses. If you do not act quickly, then you could risk losing your rights altogether.
Contacting a Boston personal injury lawyer as soon as possible also helps to ensure the availability of evidence to support your claim. The longer you wait, the more witnesses’ memories that will fade, and the harder it may become to secure evidence about the dangerous Boston property condition that caused you harm.
Call Our Boston Premises Liability Attorneys Today
The experienced, skilled premises liability attorneys at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman have the know-how and resources to secure compensation for even the most complex and severe Boston premises liability injuries. Contact us today or dial 833-552-7274 for your free case consultation.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
76 Canal Street, Suite 302
Boston, MA 02114