The term “premises liability” generally applies to any responsibility a property owner or occupant has for injury and other damages that occur on the property. This type of liability can arise in many different ways. Some common examples include:
- A slip, trip, or fall on poorly maintained property, such as:
- Uncleared or negligently cleared snow and ice
- Broken sidewalks and loose stairs or floorboards
- Debris on the floor or ground that creates a tripping hazard
- Unmarked shifts in level or other hazards not clearly marked
- Attractive nuisances, such as accessible swimming pools, trampolines, and other potentially dangerous equipment or improvements
- Known and unmarked hazards on the land, such as holes in the ground or unstable ground
- Poorly maintained buildings and other structures, such as balconies that may collapse
- Insufficient lighting to allow a person to walk safely across a parking lot or other area
The other type of premises liability claim is less common and gets less attention, but is equally important. This type of premises liability is sometimes referred to as “negligent security.” Some circumstances under which a security-related premises liability claim might arise include:
- Security doors, cameras, or other safety features tenants rely on not working or not being provided as promised
- Inadequately lighted hallways, stairways and parking lots that make tenants and visitors vulnerable to attacks by third parties
- Failure to warn of and take precautions relating to known dangers, such as a string of muggings in a strip mall parking lot
State Premises Liability Laws
Premises liability is a matter of state law, and the law differs somewhat from state to state. The most significant difference among state laws regarding premises liability is the treatment of trespassers. In some states, a property owner or occupant owes no duty to trespassers at all. In others, the duty to trespassers is similar to the responsibility to any other person who might enter the property. And, there is a range of more nuanced treatment across different states, in which trespassers are extended some limited protections.
In Massachusetts, a property owner/occupant is generally not liable to a trespasser, but there are exceptions. For example, the owner/occupant may be liable to a trespasser who is injured on the property if he or she had reason to know that trespassers were or were likely to enter the property and failed to take reasonable precautions. There are also special protections relating to child trespassers.
New Hampshire, on the other hand, extends fuller protections to trespassers.
Talk to a Premises Liability Attorney
The differing treatment of trespassers is just one of many possible differences in state premises liability laws. The standard of care and duty assigned to property owners and occupiers differs from state to state, as do available defenses and the impact of negligence on the part of the injured person.
If you have been injured on someone else’s property, your best next step would be to speak with an experienced premises liability attorney. Attorney Kevin J. Broderick has experience with various types of premises liability cases in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and can provide the information you need about:
- Possible responsible parties
- Any limitations on the owner/occupier’s liability to you
- How your own actions may impact the value of your claim
- How best to preserve your rights and the value of your claim
The consultation is free, and there’s no obligation, so you have nothing to lose by educating yourself. Call 978-459-3085 right now, or fill out our contact form to schedule your free consultation and move one step closer to the compensation you deserve.
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