With a premises liability claim or another type of personal injury case, you may hear the term “cause of action.” A personal injury cause of action is the set of facts that entitle an accident victim to pursue monetary compensation from the person who caused the harm.
Have you or a loved one been hurt in an accident on someone else’s property? If so, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. The Massachusetts premises liability lawyers at our law firm know what evidence is needed to establish the cause of action and build a solid case for our clients.
Better Phone Stone® today at 800-577-5188 to schedule a free case consultation, or fill out the online contact form with your name, email, and phone number. We can arrange your free consultation in person, by phone, or by video conference call – whatever is best for you.
What is the Difference Between a Claim and the Cause of Action?
Taking “legal action” is the act of filing a claim or lawsuit to obtain compensation. A cause of action is the legal grounds for filing.
In some situations, there may be various causes of action. Whereas, if there is no cause of action, the facts presented will not support a lawsuit.
A claim is, simply, a demand for damages the plaintiff wants to recover. In premises liability cases, this may include compensation for medical bills, loss of income, and more. The claim is what the plaintiff’s compensation will be based on, and the cause of action supports that claim.
Elements Needed to Prove Premises Liability Cause of Action
In order for a premises liability lawsuit to be successful, more is needed than simply claiming that a person sustained an injury on someone else’s property. It must be proven that the injured party has a cause of action against the property owner. In premises liability and other personal injury law cases, negligence or breach of duty is typically the focus of the cause of action.
The following four elements, once proven, establish that you have cause of action against the negligent property owner or other liable parties.
Duty of care
Every person has a “duty,” or responsibility, to act in a way that does not cause injury or harm to other people. In premises liability cases, it must be established that the defendant owned, leased, or occupied that property. This is essential because it makes that party legally responsible for maintaining the property and keeping it free from hazards.
Then it must be determined whether you entered the property as a licensee, invitee, or trespasser. The duty of care owed to each person depends on the reason why he or she was on the property in the first place.
The following is a breakdown of each category of visitor:
- Licensee: This type of visitor has the property owner’s express or implied permission to enter a property but is on the property for personal purposes. Examples include a salesman or an employee of a package delivery company.
- Invitee: An invitee is owed the greatest duty of care, being invited onto the property. Examples include friends invited to a person’s home, guests at a restaurant, or customers of a store.
- Trespasser: This is someone who is not authorized to be on the property. In most situations, property owners do not owe trespassers a duty of care by law.
Breach of duty
The next step in showing you have a cause of action is proving that the property owner breached his or her duty of care.
This is done by first demonstrating that hazardous property conditions existed. Second, the evidence must show that the property owner knew or should have known about these conditions but failed to act.
For instance, there may have been a spill in the aisle of a grocery store and the owner let an extended period of time pass before having it cleaned up.
It will then need to be shown that the property owner’s breach of duty directly caused your injury. If the injuries were actually a pre-existing condition or sustained in another situation that did not have anything to do with the breach, the plaintiff does not have a valid personal injury case.
Evidence presented to prove breach of duty may include:
- Video surveillance footage
- Accident reports
- Police records
- Medical bills
- Eyewitness testimony
- Photos of the accident scene
- Maintenance records
Lastly, your lawyer will need to provide evidence showing what damages his or her client sustained as a direct result of the property owner’s breach of duty.
Available damages in Massachusetts premises liability cases include compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment
- Wrongful death
Who May Be Liable for a Premises Liability Accident?
A premises liability lawyer will identify all who are responsible for your accident and resulting injuries. In some situations, a claim or lawsuit may be filed against multiple parties.
In a Massachusetts premises liability cause of action, the following parties may be named as defendants:
- Business owners
- Tenants or renters
- Parent company
- Property management company
- An employee of one of the above
Answering the Causes of Action
After filing a claim or lawsuit, the property owner or another liable party will be served a copy of the complaint and the causes of action. They will then have a limited amount of time to “answer,” or respond to, the lawsuit.
The opposing party may answer by openly admitting or denying the allegations against them. In many situations, they will try to disprove every cause of action against them using legal defenses and counterclaims.
Statute of Limitations on Premises Liability Cases
All premises liability cases are subject to a statute of limitations. A cause of action must be filed within the time frame the statute of limitations allows. In Massachusetts, all premises liability claims need to be filed within 3 years of the date of the accident or the date of discovery of an injury that resulted from the accident.
If a cause of action is not filed within 3 years, a person will likely not be able to recover compensation for injuries and other losses.
Schedule a Free Case Consultation Today
Establishing grounds for a cause of action in premises liability cases can be complicated. However, it can be done when you have the right legal team on your side. Come talk to Jason Stone Injury Lawyers to see if we are the best fit for you.
We have over 20 years of experience in successfully handling premises liability cases and have helped clients recover over $60 million dollars in damages. You may feel you are a long way off from recovery if you have been a victim of a slip-and-fall, an animal attack, or another type of premises liability accident – but we can help you.
The skilled and compassionate attorneys at Jason Stone Injury Lawyers want to help you get your life back on track. We take clients on a contingency basis, so you don’t owe us anything until we win.
Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation – There’s No Obligation, Just Information®. And someone is available to speak to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
You can also start a live chat or fill out the online evaluation form to schedule your conversation with us. A member of our legal team will be glad to speak with you by phone, by video conference, at your home, or in another location convenient to you.