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Slip-and-fall in MA? What you need to know about premises liability.

Premises liability is an area of the law that allows victims to hold negligent property owners accountable for injuries.

Premises liability is a legal term that refers to the responsibility of a property owner to maintain property in a safe manner. A failure to do so can lead to an accident. Examples include slip-and-fall accidents, injuries from an elevator or escalator and dog bite attacks. These accidents can lead to injury and, in some cases, the injured party could hold the property owner legally accountable for the costs that result from the accident.

A recent case provides an example. The case involves a woman that slipped and fell while visiting a family member at a hospital. The woman states she fell when she slipped on a wet surface on the hospital floor. The fall lead to serious injuries to her foot and resulted in over $3,500 in medical costs. The woman states the hospital was negligent in cleaning the spill, as it was left on the floor for a "prolonged period of time." If she is successful in her case, she could receive funds to cover the medical expenses noted above as well as additional damages and court costs.

Success in a premises liability suit: What is needed?

Generally, the first step in a premises liability case is to determine the legal status of the injured party. Legal statuses include invitee, licensee, social guest or trespasser. An invitee is someone invited to the property, like a customer or client. A licensee is a guest present for his or her own purposes while a social guest is a visitor like one attending a party at the property owner's invitation. A trespasser, however, is one who enters the property with no invitation or right.

The property owner owes a duty to provide some level of safety concerning the property to the first three legal statuses: invitee, licensee and social guest. In most cases, no duty is present for a person deemed a trespasser. There are some exceptions to this rule, most notably involving children.

The next step generally involves a review of the condition of the property. In most cases, the court will consider whether or not the property owner took reasonable steps to ensure the safety of the property. This can include a review of the reason the injured party entered the property, the use of the property and the foreseeability that an accident like the one that happened would occur.

In the case noted above, the injured party could find success if she can establish the wet surface was present for an unreasonable period of time.

Those that find themselves injured due to dangers on another's property are wise to seek legal counsel. An attorney experienced in premises liability matters can help build a case against negligent property owners and better ensure injured victims receive they compensation they deserve.