Recently in Premise Liability Category

Airbnb Will Be Responsible for Some Premises Liability Injuries

Airbnb allows people to rent out their home to overnight guests in order to bring in some extra cash. The service is popular in cities like Boston, where there is a high demand for hotels and short-term rental homes.

However, as Engadget reports, listing a home on Airbnb creates myriad legal challenges including the potential violation of agreements preventing subleasing as well as city-specific restrictions on rental properties. asset protection.jpg

One big issue that is a concern for those renting out their homes (or for landlords whose tenants rent out space) is what happens if someone gets hurt in the home. A Boston premises liability lawyer knows a property owner or a renter is generally responsible in situations where an injury happens in the home if the injury occurs as a direct result of a failure to maintain the property. The specific standard of care that a property owner has differs depending upon the status of the person inside. However, since Airbnb facilitates commercial transactions, homeowners and renters would typically be expected to exercise extreme caution in ensuring these properties are safe.

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Powers v. 31 E 31 LLC: On Premises Liability Issues

Powers v. 31 E 31 LLC, a case from the New York Court of Appeals, involved plaintiff who was injured at a friend's apartment building. After a night of drinking, plaintiff and some friends went to apartment where the accident occurred.

rusty-roof-1445317-m.jpgWhile at the apartment, the group stepped through a window to access the roof deck. The window opening was nearly a foot and a half wide and a little more than two feet high. The roof area flat enough to walk on was five feet wide and extended the entire length of the building. The portion of the roof abutted the exterior wall of the next building.

At one portion of this flat roof, an airshaft separated the two buildings. The airshaft consisted of a 25-foot vertical drop with no railing or other protection to keep people from falling into the shaft. The opening of the shaft was approximately four feet by eight feet.

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Pinson v. 45 Development, et al: Premises Liability Cases and Known Dangers

Our Boston personal injury lawyers understand that, in premises liability cases, the defendant will often to try to escape liability by claiming that the plaintiff was injured by an obvious danger.

993863_ladder.jpgIn Pinson v. 45 Development, a contractor was hired to install an electronic sign at a store. He was a master sign electrician with years of experience. He was using a bucket truck to get to the sign canopy. The canopy was constructed in such a way that he not have a place to stand. It was basically a metal frame with vinyl stretched over top. There was no way to gain access from underneath the sign.


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Metzler v. BCI Coca-Cola Bottling: Proving Liability and Damages in Personal Injury Cases

Our Boston personal injury lawyers understand that the need to prove both liability and damages separately can be confusing to plaintiffs.

hospitalroom1.jpgMetzler v. BCI Coca-Cola Bottling, decided by the Supreme Court for the State of Arizona, involved a plaintiff who was shopping at a grocery store in Tucson. While in the store, she slipped on water that was leaking from a refrigerator. The refrigerator was not owned by the store; rather, a soft drink company that had placed the refrigerator in the store owned it.

The personal injury suffered by the plaintiff was severe, and she made an offer to settle the case for $150,000. The defendant rejected the case, and it went to trial. The jury found that the defendant was responsible for the plaintiff's injuries and awarded her a verdict in the amount of $1.5 million.

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Cox v. Wal-Mart Stores - Establishing Premise Liability Claim for Defective Doorway

A customer at a store should have an assurance the property will be in a reasonably safe condition from the moment they walk in the door - sometimes sooner. They should have confidence that if there is any potentially dangerous situation on site, it will be either open and obvious, or they will receive ample warning about it from management.
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When that doesn't happen and injury results, our Boston personal injury lawyers are here to help initiate a premises liability lawsuit.

In the recent case of Cox, et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., it was the doorway itself the plaintiff alleged to be defective and dangerous, and accused the store of failing to warn her about it. This case was removed to federal court upon request of the defendant, after first being filed in Mississippi state courts. Still, because the incident occurred in Mississippi, state law there governs whether the plaintiff has a valid case.

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Graf v. Hospitality Mut. Ins. Co - First Circuit Caps Damages for Mass. Restaurant Injury

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has limited liability of the insurance company of a Massachusetts restaurant/bar where a woman was injured following a brawl.
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The issue in Graf v. Hospitality Mut. Ins. Co. was not whether the facility was negligent in providing security or whether that resulted in the plaintiff's injuries. That was established during a previous lawsuit where the patron sued the restaurant directly, resulting in a $500,000 judgment in her favor.

Boston personal injury lawyers understand the issue in this action was to what extent the bar's insurance company was liable for $112,000 in prejudgment interest against the owner and an employee of the facility.

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Wilkins v. City of Haverhill - Massachusetts Supreme Court Weighs Slip-and-Fall Claim

The Massachusetts Supreme Court has reversed an earlier judgment in favor of a city/ landowner in a slip-and-fall negligence case, wherein a mother attending a parent-teacher conference was seriously hurt after slipping and falling on ice.
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The court found in Wilkins v. City of Haverhill that the purpose of the land, as it relates to the statute, was altered at the time of the incident because it was only open to a small, discrete group during those hours. Had it occurred during normal business hours, the result may have been different.

Boston fall accident attorneys understand at the center of this case is Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 21, 17C. This statute bars claims of ordinary negligence against any landowner (including a government landowner) that has opened the land for use by the public for purposes of education, recreation, conservation, religious activities (as well as a few others) without charging any sort of fee.

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Are You Using a Recalled Snow Blower with a Tire Defect?

A snow thrower is an important item to have when winter comes, but it probably isn't something that you think about for most of the rest of the year. As such, it is possible you may have missed a recall announcement in October of 2006 for MTD snow throwers that was prompted by defective wheels on the blowers. In fact, each year there are still people who are injured by one of these snow throwers because they are not aware that their product was covered by the recall.

Our Boston defective product attorneys want to make sure everyone is aware of the dangers of these older models of MTD snow blowers. There were more than 130,000 snow blowers sold with the defective and dangerous tires and it is important to check your model number and brand information on the website of the Consumer Products Safety Commission. 1334889_snow_blower.jpg

The Defect
MTD and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission cooperated in a joint recall effort in 2006 in order to get the word out about MTD's dangerous snow blowers.
Multiple brands were affected including Troy-Bilt, Craftsman and Yard Machines and the snow throwers were sold at Kmart and Sears Stores from July of 2004 through March of 2006.

The recall was necessary as a result of many injury reports. The snow blower had defective wheel rims. These wheel rims were made of a plastic composite material that had the potential to explode. When the tires on the snow thrower were over-inflated, this could prompt the wheel rims to burst, which could in turn cause cuts or other injury.

Hundreds of injuries occurred in 2006 because of the defect in the tire and wheel rim of the snow blower, but unfortunately the problem did not end there. As with many product recalls, not everyone hears about the dangers. Those who purchased the snow blowers but who were not notified about the recall may still be using the defective blowers today. In fact, there are still consumers even this winter who may be injured if the wheel rim explodes when they are using the snow thrower.

Holding the Company Responsible
The problem with the MTD snow throwers was caused by the tire defect and wheel rim issue. As such, the company that designed and created the defective tire and wheel rims is responsible for any injuries that occur as a result of the problem with the product.

Those who own the snow throwers but who did not hear of the recall may still be able to recover compensation from MTD Products, Inc. if they suffer injuries. As such, if you are hurt due to an MTD snow thrower this year as you do your winter clean up, you should consult with a legal professional.

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Patients Injured by GranuFlo Move to Establish MDL

GranuFlo is an alkaline product produced by a company called Fresenius. The product is administered to dialysis patients to neutralize acids that build up as a result of dialysis treatment. Unfortunately, when GranuFlo is administered, there is a substance in the product that converts to bicarbonates within the body. Too many bicarbonates can cause cardiac problems and many patients who were taking GranuFlo found themselves with a bicarbonate overdose. 755993_pills.jpg

Now, Fresenius is being sued by those injured as a result of the use of GranuFlo. There were many people who experienced a similar injury due to the widespread use of GranuFlo across the United States, so there are actually many lawsuits pending against the company. On December 12, 2012, two plaintiffs involved in a lawsuit against GranuFlo moved to have a multi-district litigation established. Our Boston injury attorneys want potential GranuFlo victims to understand what an MDL is and how it impacts the case.

Multi-District Litigation in the GranuFlo Case
Fresenius is one of the largest providers of dialysis and one of the largest suppliers of dialysis products in the United States. They provide dialysis products for approximately 1/3 of the 400,000 dialysis patients in the U.S. In other words, many, many people use their products.

Unfortunately, GranuFlo was a dangerous product that they released. They did not warn doctors that it converted to bicarbonate in larger amounts in the body, and care providers thus did not account for this when administering GranuFlo. Patients with an excess of bicarbonates began to suffer heart attacks as a result. In fact, by November of 2011, more than 900 people had experienced a sudden cardiac event just in the clinics manned by Fresenius. With hundreds of deaths in their own dialysis clinics, Fresenius chose not to warn the public but instead to send out an internal memo only. This put countless more lives at stake.

Although the FDA has since issued a Class I Recall, the fact remains that this recall is too late for many who lost their lives in a cardiac event caused by GranuFlo and Fresenius. Those who lost their lives or who were injured all have the right to sue, and since there are so many of them across the U.S., multiple lawsuits have been filed to take action for the dialysis injuries.

It does not make sense to argue each and every one of these multiple cases separately when there are so many common issues to decide. This is why the motion to establish a multi-district litigation was filed and why the motion is so important. If the MDL is established, then the cases arising from GranuFlo will be consolidated in one court. Currently, the plaintiffs who requested the MDL on December 12 have asked that the MDL be established within Massachusetts.

An MDL and the consolidation of cases that it includes can make it easier and quicker for injured victims to get justice. Certain issues of fact, such as whether Fresenius is legally responsible for the injuries, can be established in one court rather than in hundreds of courts across the U.S.

It is important, however, to realize that an MDL is not necessarily the same as a class action. Class actions involve many plaintiffs who all suffered a similar or the same wrong at someone else's hands. Multi-district litigation, on the other hand, is appropriate in cases where there is a widespread pattern (such as GranuFlo injuring people) but where the plaintiffs have different injuries or different sets of circumstance. In other words, in a multi-district litigation, not every plaintiff will necessarily get the same thing.

If the MDL is granted in the Fresenius case, however, it can streamline the process of getting justice as long as clients hurt by GranuFlo have attorneys to protect their rights and to stand up for them.

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Bar Owners Face $6.7 Million Damage Settlement After Injury on Staircase

In April of 2007, a Northeastern Student went to a bar near the Massachusetts campus. According to Boston.com, tragically, the 21-year-old young student fell down the basement staircase at the bar, suffering a severe head injury that led to his death two days later. The family of the young man filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the bar and the owners were found not liable. A judge, however, ordered the owners of the bar to pay $6.7 million in damages to the family of the deceased student. The judge issued the order based on the bar's violation of state consumer protection laws.

While the case is still being appealed, our Boston personal injury attorneys want to remind property owners that it is always better to be safe than sorry. We urge compliance with all consumer protection laws and we recommend that both property owners AND patrons take responsibility for avoiding a potentially deadly fall. 1243546_stairs.jpg

The Staircase Accident and the Bar's Responsibility
In the case of the 21-year-old Northeastern student, the bar owners indicated that the injured student had not had permission to be on the stairs, which were in a private part of the building used by employees and not open to patrons. However, others testified that the owners of the bar and the managers were well aware that customers seeking a quiet place to talk on their cell phones routinely went into the area close to the stairs.

The stairs, however, present a very obvious danger. The stairs were built in the 1980s and they went from the kitchen to a downstairs basement where kegs of beer and other bar or restaurant supplies are kept. There were colored vinyl strips at the top of the stairs but there was no door because employees needed to be able to carry supplies up from below. Employees who used the stairs regularly repeatedly told managers that the steps were dangerous. The stairs had not been rebuilt or changed by the restaurant owners, who allegedly ignored the warnings.

The judge who awarded the damages indicated that it was plainly obvious that the steps were very dangerous and an accident waiting to happen. The judge also indicated that the staircase clearly wasn't compliant with the building codes, and that the vinyl on the top of the steps obscured the young student's view. Further, the stairs were lacking a required top landing and a required second railing.

Because the stairs were so dangerous, the bar owners were required to pay damages despite the fact that the young student who was killed had a blood alcohol content (BAC) more than twice the legal limit. The judge acknowledged that the student was under the influence but put forth the position that the student was a heavy drinker with a high tolerance who wasn't experiencing typical signs of intoxication.

Although the case is being appealed, it serves as an important reminder that property owners or occupiers have an obligation to their patrons to follow all building codes and consumer protection laws. If they fail, they may face a lawsuit and significant legal liability. This may be true even if the consumer protection violation is in an ostensibly private area of the bar, if the restaurant managers are aware that patrons are using that space.

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Beware of Snowy Slip & Falls This Winter

As the weather in Massachusetts starts to get cooler, the chance of snow and ice lingering on the ground increases. Snow and ice on pathways, driveways, in parking lots and throughout the city present a significant risk to pedestrians and visitors since it is all-too-easy to fall and suffer a serious injury.

This winter season, our Boston personal injury attorneys want to remind homeowners and business owners to take precautions to make sure their property is safe so visitors aren't at risk of slipping and falling. We also want to remind pedestrians to be cautious where they walk to avoid the risk of a fall. 1402289_chalet_in_snow_and_woods.jpg

Property Owner Responsibility for Snow and Ice
If you are a property owner and people come onto your property, whether those visitors are customers, friends, family or the mailman, you have a responsibility to make sure the property is reasonably safe. Normally, this means keeping your property in good repair and either fixing any dangers that you are aware of or warning guests that there is a hazard.

As winter approaches, however, your responsibility for keeping up your property may also extend to keeping your space free from dangerous snow and ice. If you fail in that responsibility, you may be held legally liable for damages if the ice or snow causes an injury.

Property owners in Massachusetts weren't always subject to legal liability for all snow and ice on their property, but an important change in the law occurred in 2010. According to Mass Live.com, the Massachusetts' courts changed a centuries-old rule that protected homeowners from liability. Under the old rule, property owners weren't held responsible if they failed to remove natural accumulations of snow on their property. Natural accumulations were defined as snow put on the property by Mother Nature, as opposed to piles of snow made by the snowplow.

This changed, however, after a man broke his pelvis in a patch of ice on a parking lot in front of a Target store. The parking lot had been plowed, with a pile of snow left in the median strip. There was a dispute over whether the slippery patch that caused the fall was the result of a "natural accumulation" or not, but the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that it did not matter.

Effectively, a new rule was created by this case. The new rule mandates that any accumulation of snow or ice that presents a danger to visitors can be considered a "defect" with which a property owner has to deal.

Under this new rule, property owners would be wise to ensure that their properties are always kept clear of snow and ice that could be dangerous. This may mean a few minutes shoveling the walk, but it is worth avoiding the potential for legal liability.

Pedestrian Risks of A Slip and Fall on Ice
Pedestrians, too, should take steps to protect themselves from a fall this winter. This can mean wearing appropriate winter boots or shoes and watching carefully where you are walking.

Ultimately, however, it is the owner of a property who has a duty to visitors and guests to keep the property reasonably safe, and if a pedestrian is hurt as a result of a slip and fall on ice, the pedestrian may be able to take legal action to recover damages from the property owner.

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Premise Liability Injuries in Boston Worrying Officials during South Boston's Parade

As we recently reported on our Boston Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog, alcohol and the South Boston's St. Patrick's Day go together like peanut butter and jelly, or St. Patrick's Day and green beer. We've discussed the dangers of drinking and driving and reviewed a number of ways to avoid these types of potentially fatal accident.
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Alcohol-related car accidents in Boston over the festive green holiday weren't the only kind of accidents that officials had to deal with. According to ABC5, a parade-watcher wound up in the hospital after a catastrophic tumble from a roof during this year's event. Officers report that the man, who was in his 20s, fell from a triple-decker apartment building along G Street just before 4:00 p.m. According to medical reports, the man is now paralyzed.

Our Massachusetts personal injury lawyers understand that balconies, porches and decks are prime gathering places, particularly as we head into spring. Unfortunately, these rooftop seats can sometimes pose serious dangers and can result in serious injuries and even death. Sometimes the structure or the railings of balconies, porches and decks can be inadequate and can contribute to falls. These things can even collapse and cause a number of people to fall to the ground below, even burying the victims underneath the debris. The St. Patrick's Day isn't the only place where we have to worry about these kinds of accidents either. They can happen at social gatherings, at restaurants and even at rented homes. Many times, officials like to blame the overcrowding for these kinds of the accidents, but the truth of the matter is that t's often concluded that the accident was caused by decay and poor maintenance.

There are roughly 40 million decks, balconies and porches in the U.S. that are more than 20 years old, according to the North American Deck and Railing Association. You can image how many of those locations can be found in the historic city of Boston. Recent studies illustrate the risks many assume; many decks, balconies and porches are not maintained properly. When property owners are negligent and don't make sure that their premises are safe, including balconies, porches and decks, they can in fact be held liable.


"There's been a lot more rooftop parties than we've seen in the past," said Ed Davis, Boston Police Commissioner. "So we've been systematically going up and talking to people and closing down the ones that are dangerous."

Officers with the Boston Police Department traveled up and down the parade route to help make sure that rooftop revelers were safe. Alcohol laws were also in full effect during the event. There were over 200 citations issued to parade watchers for public drinking. In 2011, there were more than 360 citations issued. Officers report that there were six people arrested during this year's event. Among these arrests were charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, disturbing the peace and possession of alcohol by a minor. Only three people were arrested during last year's parade.

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Elevator Accidents in Massachusetts Targeted by the Board of Elevator Regulations

Elevator accidents in Massachusetts are a top concern for members of the Board of Elevator Regulations. These regulators oversee the installation, construction, operation and alteration of elevators throughout the state. "Elevator" is used to describe vertical reciprocating conveyors, material lifts, moving walks, dumbwaiters, moving stairways, automatic people movers, dumbwaiters with automatic transfer devices and other similar devices that are used within the elevator industry, according to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Everyone working within this industry including repair people, maintenance workers, elevator constructors and operators, are required to be licensed by the board.
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Our Leominster elevator accident lawyers understand that elevators and escalators cause deadly injuries to nearly 50 people every year nationwide. In addition to these fatalities, accidents involving these devices injure another 20,000 people ever year. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, elevators specifically cause roughly 90 percent of these fatalities and another 60 percent of these injuries. Injuries to people who work near or on elevators account for about 15 percent of these fatalities every year. Some of the most common causes of death involving elevators include falls into the shaft, getting caught between moving parts and collapsing elevator platforms.

That's why the Board of Elevator Regulations is here, to help to reduce the risks of these kinds of accidents. The board is made up of eight people who have been appointed to serve by the governor. These members serve under the authority of Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 143, sections 62-71G.

Every single elevator in the state, excluding those in single-family, owner-occupied houses, is required to pass a practical test and an inspection every year. Elevators in single-family, owner-occupied houses are required to be inspected every five years. If a new elevator is installed anywhere in the state, it must be inspected by an official. If an elevator is altered in any way, it must also be inspected again.

As soon as an elevator passes this inspection, the 'certificate of inspection' must be displayed. The owner of each elevator is required to make sure that the elevator is inspected in a timely manner.

Elevator Safety Tips:

-Before boarding an elevator, stand aside to allow room for exiting riders.

-Hold children and pets closely and firmly.

-Take the stairs if there's a fire!

-Hold the handrail once you've boarded.

-Keep an eye on the floor indicators. Be ready to exit when you arrive at your floor.

-Never try to force the doors open or closed.

-If an elevator stops, never try to escape it. Sit tight and wait for assistance.

-If an elevator's floor isn't level with the floor you're on or wish to get off on, stay put.

-If the doors do not open when the elevator stops, push the "Door Open" button.

-If the elevator gets stuck, stay calm. There is plenty of air and the interior of the elevator is designed for passenger safety.

-Don't try to stop a closing door with anything, including hands, feet, personal belongings etc. Just wait for the next elevator.

-Hang on and wait for the next car if the elevator is full. Never try to squeeze in.

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Off-Duty Officer Shoots Woman in Hunting Accident in Massachusetts

A woman was accidentally shot by an off-duty Massachusetts State Police trooper in a recent hunting accident in Norton, according to Mail Online. The husband of the woman who was shot is now asking deer hunters to pay more attention and know their targets before heading out with deadly weapons into the wilderness.
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Our Massachusetts premise liability attorneys understand that hunting is intense, and ask hunters to be safe and cautious out there. The 66-year-old woman was shot in the hip while walking her two dogs. The husband of the victim is not only calling for hunters to be safer in the woods, but he's also calling for a further probe into the investigation of the incident that left his wife as a hunting target.

"My mother was shot. This is not OK," says the daughter of the victim.

After the accident on New Year's Eve, the woman was sent to the trauma intensive care unit of Rhode Island Hospital and was last reported to have been recovering from a fractured pelvis.

The hunter says that he accidentally shot the victim after he mistook her two dogs for deer. The accident happened during the evening hours as he was using a black powder rifle to take down deer. After the shot was fired and the target was struck, the off-duty officer ran to her side and started to administer first-aid tactics to help keep her alive as he called 9-1-1.

According to authorities, the off-duty officer is properly licensed and is not currently facing any criminal charges.

Hunting Safety Tips:

-Always treat a firearm as if it's loaded. Make it a habit!

-Always point the muzzle in a safe direction. About 70 percent of all hunting accidents are self-inflicted injuries. This means that at the time of the accident, the muzzle was pointed at a person. You always want to point it in a direction so that if it fired off, no one would be injured.

-Know your target. You always want to know exactly what you're shooting at and what's beyond it. Always positively identify what you're shooting at before pulling the trigger. Shooting at something you're unsure of is a gamble. In this Massachusetts hunting accident, the gamble was with a human life. We don't always hit our target. For this reason, make sure that what is behind and around your target is safe. Never shoot into an area that could harm another person.

-Fingers outside the trigger. Keep your finger outside of the guard until you're ready to fire. Many accidental shootings happen because trigger guards were not properly used. Always protect yourself and the ones around you. Be responsible.

For more information about deer hunting in Massachusetts, visit the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game.

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Premise Liability Hazards Increase Risk of Accidents Involving Shoppers in Boston, Elsewhere

Shoppers in Massachusetts who survived Black Friday without injury should consider it a small feat considering it is the most dangerous shopping day of the year. Even though the big event is over, shoppers and consumers will still be packing malls and shopping venues in the weeks to come, on the hunt for irresistible deals and gifts.
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Injuries from shopping accidents in Massachusetts are more common this time of year when a business or merchant doesn't take the necessary precautions to keep their premises hazard free.

We remind you of the post we did in October on our Boston Personal Injury Attorney Blog when we reported that a Massachusetts woman is filing for compensation following a 2006 shopping injury at a WalMart that left the bone in her ring finger exposed. The woman had tried to reach for a gift located on the top shelf and snagged her ring on a metal latch sticking out from the shelf. This accident, also known as degloving, could have been avoided if the WalMart had ensured customer safety by properly maintaining the property.

Boston premise liability lawyers find in many cases that retailers and store owners are considered negligent if they knowingly leave a hazard unattended. Maintaining the store property, including parking lots, sidewalks, and inside the premises is vital to keeping customers and employees free from injury.

There are several types of shopping-related injuries but the most common is slip and fall accidents, which are sometimes caused by an icy sidewalk, a freshly mopped floor, or cluttered aisles to name a few. Shopping cart injuries are also common this time of year when a child's finger gets stuck, a cart topples over or is left unattended in an overcrowded parking lot. Head and neck injuries can often result when a customer is struck by a falling object from a shelf or boxes fall from an unsafely stacked store display.

Elevator and escalator injuries are also common when customers are riding and experience a malfunction. Overcrowding on these riding apparatuses can make them dangerous and present an exit hazard when customers can't escape during an emergency situation.

Store owners and merchants are also responsible for keeping parking lots safe and hazard free. This means keeping surveillance cameras functioning properly, security cars patrolling the area and maintaining a well-lit parking environment to protect shoppers from assault or theft when they return to their cars. If a winter storm dumps an accumulation of snow, clearing the lots and sidewalks and laying down salt on top should be a top priority to prevent a slip and fall accident from occurring.

Shoppers are urged to use extra caution this time of year as stores will be overcrowded and liable for accidents. Keep close tabs on your children in the store and in the parking lot. Stay alert for shopping hazards like displays or falling objects. Try to avoid shopping after dark or during the busiest parts of the day like lunchtime or after work.

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