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How defendant inactions influence a premises liability claim


Boston residents visit commercial establishments daily. Visitors assume places they frequent are safely maintained. Massachusetts property owners are responsible for meeting that reasonable standard to prevent accidents.

Slip and fall accidents can happen to anyone, but injuries happen for different reasons. Sometimes, visitors can be faulted for engaging in risky behaviors, like texting while walking or running in inappropriate footwear. However, business owners and operators are required to try to prevent as many accidents as they can, even if they can’t avert them all.

The time for preventive actions begins before dangerous property conditions exist is built. For example, health care facilities may give a great deal of consideration to the kinds of floors installed. Waxed floors look shiny and professional but can be slippery for patients, staff and visitors — especially when they are wet.

Seasonal weather conditions can impact a flooring decision, too. When you live in an area that gets as much snow and ice as Massachusetts, you can’t dismiss how precipitation will affect safety. The wet stuff makes its way inside from parking lots on the shoes of visitors.

When salt from treated outdoor areas mixes with floor wax, the risks of a slip and fall increase. Salt melts wax, as it does ice, but the effect on wax only makes a floor surface slipperier. No-wax and other types of flooring, cleaned using as little water as possible, are safer bets.

Health care facilities and other commercial operations can decrease the chances of accidents by adding mats at entrances and exits, during inclement weather. Warning signs directing visitors to use caution are an added benefit.

Lax safety plans include no prevention measures. The failure to care about visitors’ safety can come back to haunt business owners in Massachusetts premises liability claims. Damages are awarded to injured plaintiffs when courts are convinced the defendant’s careless behavior contributed to an accident.

Source: Behavioral Healthcare, “4 ways to manage slip-and-fall safety in your facility” Jan. 05, 2015

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