Massachusetts Premises Liability Law Basics

Not all types of accidents that warrant a personal injury claim are motor vehicle crashes; many involve accidents that occur on the properties of others, such as slip and fall accidents, drowning incidents, and dog bite cases. Which is why it is important for those who are harmed on others’ properties to understand premises liability laws in Massachusetts, and what their rights are following an injury. Here’s a basic overview of what you need to know–

What Are Premises Liability Laws?

Premises liability laws are the set of laws that determine who is liable when a condition on a property causes an injury to another person. The laws apply to nearly all property types, including residential properties, private properties, commercial properties, apartment building and rental properties, and public lands. They also apply to all types of persons who enter those properties, although the duty of care owed to each different type of entrant is unique.

  • Invitee. The greatest duty of care applies to invitees, which are those persons who have been invited onto the property by the property owner.
  • Licensees. A licensee is someone who is on the property legally, but not necessarily with an invitation. It can be difficult to distinguish between invitees and licensees, and as such, Massachusetts courts typically combined both categories into one called “legal entrants.”
  • Trespassers. Trespassers are those who are on the property illegally. The only duty of care owed to trespassers is for the property owner to refrain from willful or wanton harm.

Property Owners’ Duties to Legal Entrants

While property owners may not owe trespassers a duty of care, they do have a duty of care to those who enter the property lawfully. This duty of care is to:

  • Maintain the property free from any hazardous conditions; and
  • To remedy any dangerous conditions within a reasonable amount of time of discovery.

Just like all negligence cases, if the above duty of care is breached and that breach results in injury to a property entrant, the property owner can be held liable for the injured party’s damages. In order for the injured party to hold the property owner liable, they will have to prove that the property owner:

  • Knew or should have known of the dangerous condition; and
  • Failed to remedy the condition within a reasonable amount of time.

Have You Been Injured on Someone Else’s Property in Massachusetts?

If you have been injured on someone else’s property, a talented personal injury attorney who is experienced in premises liability law can help you to understand your rights, options, and how to bring forth a claim for damages. Attorney Deborah Gold-Alexander has over 30 years’ experience representing clients like you, and is prepared to review your case for free today. To schedule a consultation, call 781-289-4235, or send Deborah Gold-Alexander, Attorney at Law, a message with a description of your case today.