Articles Posted in Premises Liability

OK – Here it is, July 2 2017 and people everywhere are celebrating the Fourth of July (in what will very likely turn out to be a very short work week this coming week – added bonus, no?) Yes, that means parades, cookouts and each outings.  I love this time of year; I’m a summer person.

But Fourth of July celebrations also mean something else:  Fireworks celebrations.  And while the vast majority of these fireworks displays are run by cities and towns under professional management, an enormous amount of the fireworks that you hear in any given neighborhood, are being lit off by individuals – usually young people.  As I write this post, I can hear the occasional firecracker now (or entire pack of them!)  Most people – especially young people – don’t appreciate the real danger of lighting off fireworks such as firecrackers, bottle rockets, ground spinners, ladyfingers, M-80’s, sparklers, and more. Continue reading



In my previous post on this subject, I wrote about how recovering damages for injuries suffered due to falls on Massachusetts municipal sidewalks, is legally very difficult.  In theory, if a person in Massachusetts is injured in a slip & fall accident due to snow or ice being on a sidewalk, that person can sue the municipality as the owner of the sidewalk – but only if the snow or ice was accompanied by some other defect that made the sidewalk dangerous (such as a gap in concrete or asphalt, etc.)

Even more so – and worse for persons injured due to falls on these sidewalks, whether the fall was caused by snow, ice, or other structural defects in the sidewalk, liability for any such injuries has always been capped at $5,000 per event.  This is courtesy of a special statute, M.G.L.  c. 84, §15, enacted several years ago.  Attempts to change this law have always been successfully opposed by the organization that represents the 351 city and towns in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Municipal Association.  Your tax dollars at work, huh? Continue reading

The world of civil liability law in Massachusetts, or tort law as attorneys call it, is changing.  And as with most change that takes place within society, there are opposing forces to change; one that supports the change; one that doesn’t.  If that doesn’t exactly excite you, if you’re a homeowner you might want to know that one such major change in the area of Massachusetts tort law that was seen in recent years, was the Supreme Judicial Court’s (SJC) ruling on the subject of whether or not homeowners could be held liable for slip & fall injuries occurring on their property due to snow and ice not being removed from the property in a timely fashion.  The legal upshot:  They can now.

Years of legal principle in Massachusetts had generally insulated homeowners from such liability, applying an arcane and often little-understood idea previously known as the “unnatural accumulation” principle.  This convoluted theory held that unless the offending snow and ice that caused the injuries in question was the result of “unnatural accumulation” – i.e., previous shoveling or plowing – then the homeowner was not liable.  As a Boston, Massachusetts slip and fall attorney, I can assure you:  This often confusing rationale usually resulted in unjust rulings and verdicts, and in fact discouraged homeowners from shoveling or removing snow & ice from their property.  That no longer results, as homeowners can now be held liable for injuries due to snow & ice on their property, regardless of how it ended up there.

Now, the subject of sidewalk liability is about to become the next area of legal review by the SJC – and people in this state may be in for quite a change in this area of liability law.  The obvious reason?  This is New England.  Slip and fall injuries taking place on municipal sidewalks that covered with either snow or ice are inevitable, and even though businesses could in rare circumstances face liability for such injuries, they usually don’t.  Resident property owners almost never do.  The reason for this is that at common law, a duty to remove snow or ice only existed if the defendant owned the sidewalk. Because neither businesses nor homeowners own public sidewalks, there is no duty to clear the snow and ice.  Thus, the legal responsibility for maintaining them has always fallen on the city or town, not the business owner that the sidewalk abuts, nor the homeowner that the sidewalk abuts.

In my previous post on this important topic, I noted how plaintiffs who suffered injuries due to slipping and falling at Massachusetts retail stores, usually had a tough time even getting their cases in front of a jury.  This was because store owners could often get the cases dismissed due to the high evidentiary standard that an injured plaintiff would have to meet, in order to prevent the case from being dismissed. Continue reading

Slip & fall accidents can be a lot more serious than many people think. No, scraped palms and knees don’t make up the bulk of the injuries that result from these events:  As a Boston slip & fall attorney, I can assure people:  Broken limbs, herniated spinal discs and concussions are most often the types of injuries that result from these events.  When people around age 70 or older are the victims, broken bones become even more common.  A good deal of my injury law practice involves representing these types of injury victims, and I’ve seen more serious injuries result from these types of events than I can discuss here.

So it was very positive news when a Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) case was recently decided, which basically expanded the liability of retail business operators for slip and fall injuries.  This type of case falls under an area of law known as “Premises Liability.” (There’s an entire section on Premises Liability at our website, which you can get to by clicking on the “Website” tab, above.)  Explaining on a technical, legal level precisely why this decision expanded liability of retail stores for these types of injuries, would likely take a long time here and probably cause you to doze off. (I understand – for non-lawyers, these court decisions are pretty dry.)  But – very briefly – I’ll try to explain the legal reasons for this decision: Continue reading

Most people are aware that there are a high number of fatalities involving motor vehicle accidents and such, but I’ll bet that most aren’t aware of the number of people killed on the job in this state. The fact is, Massachusetts workplace fatalities happen more frequently than many think.

A report released jointly a few days ago by two labor groups – the Massachusetts AFL-CIO and the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupation Safety and Health, revealed that fifty (50) workers died due to injuries they suffered on the job last year in Massachusetts. Not surprisingly, transportation workers – taxi drivers, bus drivers and truck drivers, figured prominently in the Massachusetts employee deaths report. Equally unsurprising, but troubling still, were too many deaths caused by falls from heights, such as those involved in Massachusetts construction site injuries and Massachusetts scaffolding injuries.

As a Boston Massachusetts construction site accident lawyer, I’ve seen too many of these types of injuries – they can be horrific. Another fact that might surprise some people is that – yes, people are murdered in the workplace: Three Massachusetts workplace homicides took place in 2014, in just the first three months of 2015, another three took place.

So many people love the Fall season. I’m just not one of them. For many people, it’s a time for apple-picking, football games, Halloween and clean, crisp air. For me, it’s a time for longing the warm summer air and beach days that have left us. It’s also the season for leaf-peeping, which here in Massachusetts, people do in droves.

But did you know that autumn leaves, while beautiful, can pose a threat and can precipitate a Massachusetts slip and fall injury? “Fall” is the operative word here. Think about it: Dew falls during the nights and mornings, and it rests on leaves that have fallen everywhere. Aside from dew, rain also can pour down on leaves. The result? Moist leaves that are as slippery as a banana peel – or a sheet of ice, in winter. People certainly know how dangerous snow and ice are, but are probably not as familiar with how dangerous wet leaves can be. A Massachusetts slip and fall injury caused by simply wet leaves can be very serious.

Wet leaves can pose a problem at private homes — especially on walking surfaces like driveways, stairs and porches. At public places and at businesses, wet leaves that are not raked away or that simply pile up can be very dangerous, at entrances and exits, and on stairwells. One false move, and you’re on the ground with a broken wrist, a twisted ankle, or far worse – and when and where you least expected it. If that happens, you will need a Boston slip and fall attorney.

Recently here in the Boston area, the media has paid a lot of attention recently to the subject of dangerous off-campus housing for college students – and justifiably so.

Boston is the College Capital of the Nation, and there are more undergraduate and graduate students here than in almost any other part of the country. Against this massive student population, there are only so many campus dorm units – i.e., on-campus housing facilities. Universities here knowingly accept more students than they have the capacity to house on campus. Why? Tuition revenue. The student overflow ends up in apartment buildings in and around the greater Boston area – and these numbers have increased over 30% since just 2006. What’s the problem with this? A huge percentage of those apartment buildings and rental units are located in shoddy, dilapidated, over-crowded and dangerous buildings. Many of them are flagrant examples of numerous Building Code violations relating to both safety and health. Translation: Dumps and fire traps. More than 45,000 students live in these apartment buildings and houses – 99% never having lived on their own previously. Can you say “lambs to the slaughter?”

A great many of these apartments are located in the Allston/Brighton section of Boston – near Boston University and Boston College. Allston is so bad when it comes to dilapidated housing that it has earned the nickname “Rat City,” for the reputation it has for vermin in that part of Boston. Who owns the vast majority of these buildings and apartments? Many of them are absentee landlords – also known as slumlords. Whether it’s old, creaky stairwells that can collapse, causing a dangerous Massachusetts stairwell fall injury, or old, rotted exterior porches and decks that can result in a Massachusetts porch collapse injury, or old, out-of-code electrical wiring that can cause a Massachusetts apartment building fire, the risks are numerous and very serious.

Here’s a local development that happens a lot more around the Boston area than many people realize: Last night (Friday, Sep. 13th), a porch connected to an apartment building collapsed, with several people being injured. The accident happened at 1358 Tremont Street in the Mission Hill section of Boston. The porch was connected to a “3-decker” building, and as is common with these types of events, there was no prior warning – it just gave way. No time to get off before it came tumbling down. – in this case, falling on and crushing the porch immediately below it.

That’s not uncommon in deck collapse accidents: As a Boston porch/deck collapse lawyer, and as a lifelong resident of the Boston area, I can attest to the fact that building conditions in this area are primed for this kind of accident: The area is swimming in old, 3-decker houses and apartment buildings – most have been around since the 1950’s or so. These types of 3-deckers are almost always made of wood, not brick or concrete, and they are exposed to all kinds of weather that leaves them unstable. The result? Most of them are rotting, weak, and unsafe. Put more than a few people at once on them, and you’re risking a lot.

This is a major safety risk in the Boston area. Why? One word: Students. While a great many college students live in university dorms (which are almost 100% brick and mortar buildings that are usually quite safe,) a great many students in the Boston area also live off-campus. And what does that usually mean? Cheap housing – which is very older, often out of code, and – to be quite frank – dumps. The Allston-Brighton, Kenmore Square, Fenway, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Roxbury and Mission Hill areas are notorious for having these kinds of 50+ and 60+ year-old wooden structures, which are very dangerous. Many of them are owned by slumlords, and are fire traps as well as places where Boston stairwell accidents and Boston deck collapse accidents occur more than just occasionally.

Summer is usually a time when thoughts turn to cooling off and leisurely days around a swimming pool (especially during heat waves such as we’ve had here in Massachusetts recently.) That makes perfect sense, but in my view as a Massachusetts swimming pool accident lawyer, not enough people are aware of the dangers of backyard swimming pools – whether in-ground or above-ground. In my career, some of the worst injuries I have seen involve swimming pool injuries. They can pose serious, and even deadly, hazards.

This was recently made clear in the past few weeks, as more than one person has died in Massachusetts swimming pool accidents. These unfortunate events illustrate the inherent risks that are associated with swimming pools. Whether the pool is an in-ground pool or an above-ground portable pool, as a Boston drowning accident attorney, I can assure you they are dangerous.

Tragedies like this illustrate the need to be aware of the dangers that swimming pools represent. In a great many of these types of cases, the injuries and drowning deaths that occur are sustained by children. This is so for a variety of reasons:

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