If you were injured due to the negligence of a business or property owner, there are two types of personal injury cases you can file. The first is called a premises liability claim and the second is a general liability claim. Both claim types are similar but have a couple of clear distinctions between them that you should know.
You may not know what type of liability case is best for you. That is why you should call Jason Stone Injury Lawyers right away. Injuries caused by someone else’s negligence should ideally never happen. That is why you can count on our team of Massachusetts lawyers to get you the maximum compensation available.
Your time is limited to make a claim. You Better Phone Stone® today at (800) 577-5188 for a free consultation. Our team is available 24/7 at your convenience, and we can set up a meeting with you by Zoom, Facetime, phone, in-person, or by any means preferred by you.
What is Premises Liability?
Property owners of all types – businesses, residential, and even government property – have a legal obligation to ensure visitors to that property are safe from harm. In most cases, a premises liability claim involves the duty of a business to protect any customers that enter its domain. Bringing a lawsuit against a property owner in this manner requires a burden of proof.
The plaintiff must prove that the property owner violated these five elements:
- There was a dangerous condition
- The condition was reasonably foreseeable
- The property owner knew of, should have known about, or even created the dangerous condition
- The owner failed to fix the hazard
- You were hurt because the owner failed to fix or maintain the property in a safe manner
Massachusetts Premises Liability Law: What Are the Visitor Categories?
Not all people to visit private property have an equal duty owed to them. Three visitor categories determine the legal status of each visitor. Each category is listed below.
An invitee is someone who, of course, was invited to be on private property. The person was given rights by the owner to be in a particular space. The law often considers customers of a business to be an invitee. The doors are open for them to come in, browse, and make a purchase. The property owner has a responsibility to keep invitees safe from harm.
Invitees should be given the greatest duty of care. They must be warned about any potential hazards.
Take, for example, those yellow signs you might have seen at the grocery store warning of a slippery floor or wet surface. If that sign was not there and there was a slip-and-fall accident, the store owner and property owner could be held liable.
This only applies, though, to the part of the property where invitees are allowed to visit. Invitees cannot enter a private area, like an employee’s-only back room or storage room, and expect they are still covered. At that point, the court might decide they are no longer an invitee and label them as trespassers.
Licensees enter someone’s personal property for the benefit of both themselves and the owner. Consider a plumber who is invited to enter a home to fix the sink, or someone who works for a soda company and brings in new stock for a store’s shelves. A licensee can even be a neighbor who you invite over to your home.
Property owners are still expected to maintain a high duty of care in this case. This includes warning a licensee of any potentially harmful area of the property.
Trespassers are people who do not have any right to be on any type of private property. They were not invited and have the lowest duty of care owed to them. Someone who trespasses cannot sue the property owner if he or she gets hurt.
For instance, suppose someone is trespassing and has a slip-and-fall accident. The property owner is not responsible for that incident. However, property owners are legally barred from intentionally causing a trespasser’s injuries by setting a trap or any other means.
What is General Liability?
The term “general liability” can apply to several different types of claims, including premises liability cases. Many businesses may buy general liability insurance to protect themselves in the event of an accident. It is only natural that a company or property owner would find a way to cover any potential losses they might face.
Other types of claims general liability protect against:
- Defective product injuries
- Claims of false or misleading advertising
- Damage to property
In order to win a general liability case, the plaintiff must prove negligence using four elements, which are:
- Duty – Was the injured party owed any duty of care from the business or property owner?
- Breach of duty – Was this duty of care violated by the property or business owner’s negligence?
- Causation – Did this breach of duty from the property or business owner cause the plaintiff’s injuries?
- Damages – Was the harm caused by the property or business owner legally recognizable?
If you have been injured on someone else’s property, schedule a free consultation with Jason Stone Injury Lawyers to get started on seeking compensation.
Who is Held Liable in a Shared Building?
In some instances, it can be difficult to know who is responsible for your injuries. Some buildings have shared ownership. You might have been hurt inside a large building with multiple businesses, like a mall. What if a slip-and-fall happened in a common area, like a hallway or lobby? It is important for business owners to know where their duty begins and ends.
This is where determining liability can be tricky. There may be more than one party who can be found at fault for an accident. The business owner and the property owner both might have parts to play.
Thus, hiring a liability lawyer is absolutely imperative. Proving who is at fault and whether they met every element of liability under the law will be much easier for you, and much more possible, with an experienced attorney on your side.
What to Do If You Are Injured on Someone’s Property in Massachusetts
If you have been injured on someone else’s private property, there are several steps you should take that can help your liability case. These steps are important if you hope to establish that the owner’s negligence caused your injuries.
Seek medical attention right away
Sometimes people feel the need to be tough or laugh off an embarrassing fall. You should seek immediate medical attention, even if you believe your injuries are minor. It is not uncommon for some injuries to manifest their symptoms until later, so always get checked out sooner rather than later.
When you see a doctor, be sure to follow his instructions completely. If he recommends physical therapy, follow his recommendation. Failing to go by your doctor’s advice can cause you legal problems later. The insurance company can claim you were not injured or that your injuries were not as severe as you claim.
Keep detailed notes and information about your case
You are likely going to be asked questions about the incident several times over. You need to have all the details of what happened written down. Take those notes as soon as possible after the event so you do not forget anything as time passes. Having photographs available can also be a powerful witness of what the road, weather, and injury conditions were like at the time.
Call Jason Stone Injury Lawyers right away
You will need help from an experienced lawyer to guide you through the process. Jason Stone Injury Lawyers has over 20 years of experience handling all types of liability cases. When we take on your case, we will do everything we can to help you get the maximum compensation available.
If you need an attorney to represent your interests, you Better Phone Stone® at (800) 577-5188. We offer a free consultation on your case, where we promise there is No Obligation, Just Information®.