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Premises liability: Understanding comparative fault


In Massachusetts premises liability cases, there is often a debate over who is at fault in an incident and how that plays into any damages awarded in a lawsuit. In extreme cases, where a landlord or business owner was grossly negligent in ensuring that the property was safe or warning visitors that there was a danger present, who was at fault is often fairly evident. In others, when an uninvited guest is injured or someone ignores a warning, things can get more complicated.

In most situations, it is expected that the property owner has a responsibility to keep the property reasonably safe and free of dangers. Visitors also have the responsibility to take reasonable precautions for their own welfare. In situations where the person injured is found to have been negligent in exercising reasonable care, it is possible for the amount of damages to be lessened proportionately.

Premises liability cases involving trespassers are most often found in favor of the property owner because an owner does not have a legal responsibility to warn trespassers of dangers. The exception to this is if the owner knows that trespassers are likely to attempt to gain access to the property.

When a person is injured at a property and believes that it was the fault of the owner, the first step is to discuss the particulars of the situation with an attorney as soon as possible. Understanding how Massachusetts law applies to the incident and who is likely to be found at fault can help victims better understand their options when deciding whether or not to pursue legal action.

Source: FindLaw, “Premises Liability: Who Is Responsible?” Oct. 04, 2014


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