Once you enter a building, unpredictable safety hazards abound. Per Massachusetts General Laws, a building is any public or commercial structure – a public or special hall, factory, workshop, assembly theater, or manufacturing establishment – gathering a large number of people for entertainment, occupational and other purposes.
So, architects, contractors and property owners owe you and anyone who lives, visits or works in the building a reasonable duty of care. They breach such duty if they do not follow minimum standards specified in building codes about maintaining the building’s structural integrity to keep you from harm.
But even if you do not provide negligence, based on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling on the Sheehan v. Weaver case, strict liability may apply if the injuries you sustained directly result from a public or commercial building’s code violations. However, an exemption to this rule would be private residential owners, unless they have knowledge of their premises’ unsafe conditions and still did not address it. Even worse, they also failed to provide you with a proper warning.
Examples of building code violations
Under Massachusetts law, inspectors enforce building codes by checking if the building is structurally sound, built with the appropriate materials, reasonably sanitary and properly maintained. Some building code violations are:
- Poor fire protection: Faulty fire alarm, broken sprinkler system and inadequate fire escape route
- Defective handrails and stairways: Worn-out conditions in strength, height and depth composed of slippery materials
- Substandard electrical and gas systems: Old and low-quality wirings, and gas lines or fittings
- Insufficient locks: Damaged or lack of door locks at the building’s exterior
- Absence of warning signs: Unmarked or improperly lit signs for construction areas
On the other hand, property owners may argue that theirs is a “grandfathered” property. This circumstance means that the property existed before the establishment of the building codes. But still, they are equally aware of how such building codes are critical to keeping their businesses in operation. Thus, it helps your case if you have compelling proof of their building code violations.
Cause of action
You have three years since the incident to build your personal injury case against all parties involved. Pursuing your claim can prevent future harm to other tenants, customers or guests of the building. But with several considerations and complex laws, you need all the guidance you can get. It will help to have a legal team assist you in recovering fair compensation, so you’d have enough means to address losses for your injuries.