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The Right to Sue for Injuries on a Property Depends on Your Right to Be There

A property owner has a legal responsibility to ensure their property is safe for those who enter it and to compensate those injured due to unsafe conditions. However, the level of care a property owner must provide varies depending on the legal status of the person entering the property, categorized into invitees, licensees, and trespassers.

The following is how Massachusetts law categorizes visitors with respect to their right to recover damages in a premises liability case:

  • Invitees — These are individuals invited onto the property for business purposes, such as customers in a store. Property owners owe the highest duty of care to invitees. They must actively ensure the premises are in a reasonably safe condition, regularly inspect for potential hazards, and promptly address any dangers. For instance, if a supermarket customer slips on a wet floor that was not adequately marked with warning signs, the supermarket may be liable for the customer’s injuries. The property owner must take proactive steps to prevent harm to invitees and may be held financially responsible if they fail to do so.
  • Licensees — These people are allowed on the property for their own purposes, such as social guests. The duty of care owed to licensees is less stringent than that owed to invitees. Property owners must warn licensees of any unsafe conditions that the owner knows about and that the licensee is unlikely to discover on their own. For example, if a homeowner knows about a loose railing on their staircase and fails to warn a visiting friend, the homeowner could be liable if the friend is injured due to the railing. However, the homeowner is not required to inspect the property for potential hazards to the same extent they would for invitees.
  • Trespassers — These are individuals who enter the property without permission or legal right. Property owners owe the least duty of care to trespassers. Generally, owners must only refrain from willfully causing harm to trespassers. This means that property owners are not typically liable for injuries trespassers sustain unless they set traps or intentionally create hazardous conditions. However, if a property owner knows that people frequently trespass on their land, they may have a limited duty to post warnings about particularly dangerous conditions.

In Massachusetts, the rule of comparative negligence affects how damages are awarded in premises liability cases. An injured person’s compensation can be reduced by the percentage of their own fault in the incident. For example, if a person is 20 percent at fault for their injury, their compensation will be reduced by 20 percent. Importantly, if the injured party is found to be 51 percent or more at fault, they are barred from recovering any damages. 

If you or a loved one have been injured due to a property owner’s negligence or irresponsible actions, Feinberg & Alban PC offers years of experience handling these types of personal injury cases throughout the Greater Boston area. We have an office at Two Center Plaza in Boston and one in Brookline. Please call 617-232-5950 or contact us online to discuss your legal options in a free consultation.

 

Feinberg & Alban, P.C. fervently protects your rights
  • The Boston firm of Feinberg & Alban, P.C. specializes its practice in the area of personal injury.

    The attorneys serve the entire state of Massachusetts in addition to affiliating with lawyers in other states to handle cases outside of Massachusetts.

  • $7.7 Million Award for Feinberg & Alban Client in Personal Injury Trial

    Boston Attorneys Win Highest Injury Verdict in Massachusetts in 2011 & 2012.

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