You probably make sure to watch where you walk when you know that the potential for falling exists. However, while in a store, you are probably too busy looking for what you need to buy to pay close attention. Besides, you don't expect something on the floor to cause you to slip and fall.
Once you hit the floor, you may have immediately realized that something was terribly wrong and you couldn't get up under your own power. When you decided to go shopping, you more than likely didn't anticipate leaving the store in an ambulance. Now, you may face some time in a hospital bed and a long recovery. As you lie in your hospital bed, you may wonder how you will pay your medical bills and provide for you and your family until you can get back on your feet.
Did the owner of the property fail to keep the premises safe?
There's a good chance that your accident could have been avoided. Property owners and managers must maintain a reasonably safe premises. This means that any potential hazards require addressing as soon as they become apparent. The big question is whether the owner or manager should have known, or did know, about the danger that led to your fall.
Even though you should be aware of your surroundings, that doesn't always release a property owner from liability. Property owners remain responsible to keep the premises clear of dangerous conditions when possible.
It's a question of reasonableness
In order to assign liability to a property owner, you need to show that his or her actions weren't reasonable. On the other hand, you may have to show the court that your actions were reasonable under the circumstances. To do so, you need to answer the following questions for the court:
- What daily cleaning rituals does the owner follow?
- How long before your accident was the danger present?
- If you tripped over something, was it supposed to be there?
- Was the reason it was there still valid?
- Should you have been where you were when you fell?
- Was there some sort of warning sign or barrier regarding the danger?
- Did your actions contribute to the accident?
- Would a "reasonable" person have seen or anticipated the danger and avoided it?
It may take some investigation and evidence gathering in order to properly answer these questions. The court requires you to show that the property owner, managers or employees knew or should have known about the hazard and did nothing about it, or may have caused it.
Find support and assistance
Overcoming the presumption that the property owner fulfilled his or her obligation to maintain a reasonably safe premises may require some help. Finding experienced support and assistance in doing so could increase your chances of success. Making use of the legal resources in your Massachusetts neighborhood may be a good place to start.