Slip and Fall Incidents
Slip and fall accidents make up the majority of personal injury claims in Massachusetts. Yes, these types of accidents can not only be embarrassing for the victim but serious injuries can occur as a result. Severe lower back pain, broken limbs that fail to heal correctly, and mild concussions are some of the injuries that can occur when someone slips and falls over an object or on a surface.
In the United States slip and fall incidents fall under tort laws, meaning that the victim must show the actions or lack of actions is what the cause of the harm resulting in injury. This is why we highly encourage anyone who falls and hurts themselves on someone else property or on public property such as a shopping mall or grocery store to:
- Avoid making any detailed statements on who you think was at fault
- Before leaving the scene, obtain the names of the property owners and or managers and report the incident. Obtain a copy of the report if possible.
- Do not leave without taking pictures of the object or surface you slipped and fell over.
Take pictures of your injuries and immediately seek medical attention if you were hurt.
Do not give any statements to insurance adjusters without the presence of an attorney.
Types of Slip and Falls
- Snow and ice (failing to shovel or remove ice and snow in front of a house or residential and commercial building)
- Defects in the pavement (depression or cracks in the sidewalk)
- Leaky pipes or downspouts that cause flooding on the sidewalks
- Conditions on properties that are in violation of applicable building codes.
Determining liability in the state of Massachusetts can be difficult because when there is a walking surface that is potentially dangerous both the property and the person who walks over the surface bears some responsibility or liability. Under state laws property owners must ensure that their property is safe especially the sidewalks and other walking areas that general public may encounter. Also, each person is responsible for exercising caution and judgment when encountering a slippery or dangerous surface. Prior to 2010, property owners were only responsible for any unnatural accumulation of snow and ice. The Supreme Judicial Court overturned 125 years of legal precedent and made property owners responsible for any injuries that occurred on their property due to either unnatural or natural accumulation of snow and ice. That case, Papadopoulos v. Target, 457 Mass 368 (2010), has shifted the burden significantly to the property owner in slip and fall cases where snow and ice is involved.
Slip and fall accidents may also occur at your place of employment. Unfortunately, in Massachusetts you cannot file a personal injury lawsuit against your boss or employer. Work related injuries including slip and fall injuries will have to be handled through worker’s compensation laws. However, if your injuries were caused by someone other than your employer, you may have a cause of action for worker’s compensation and against the party responsible for your injuries. This is typically called a third party case or claim.
If you were hurt in a slip and fall accident it’s important to discuss your case with an attorney who specializes in slip and fall cases. This is essential to being reimbursed on medical bills, being compensated for loss of wages due to your inability to work and to re-coup any other losses you have suffered. Your attorney will review all of the facts of your case to determine all of the parties responsible and what you are entitled to recover.