Can I Sue a Retail Store If I Was Involved in a Slip and Fall Accident in Boston?

January 7, 2022

Retail stores are often sites for slip and fall accidents amongst shoppers. Learn whether you can sue a Boston retail store where you suffered a slip and fall. 

When you enter a Boston retail store, your main focus is to buy all you need and get home safely. Unfortunately, many retail shops are in dangerous conditions. Therefore, such an unsafe condition can cause you to slip and fall while shopping. A slip and fall in a Boston retail store can lead to severe injuries and or death.

Fortunately, premises liability law allows you to file a personal injury lawsuit. You can recover financial compensation for your losses following the accident with such personal injury claims. You’ll need an experienced slip and fall injury lawyer in Boston, though. So, it’ll be best to contact the law firm of Michael Kelly after a slip and fall accident. 

Understanding Slip and Fall Accidents

Every property owner has a duty of care to visitors coming onto their property. Therefore, they must ensure that they create a safe environment for visitors. Retail stores also have this duty of care to their customers. However, many stores neglect this duty. When they do, terrible accidents often follow. 

For example, a customer could slip and fall while picking items off the shelf. Conversely, they can slip and fall at the car park or sidewalks. Sometimes, slips and falls are also called trip and fall. Usually, a slip and fall occur when someone slips because of some wet substance on the floor. Slippery floors are thus the major source of slip and fall.

These slippery floors in retail stores could result from several factors such as:

  • Snow or ice on the ground
  • Cooking oil or other oily substances on the floor
  • Broken floors
  • Poor lighting

When these accidents occur, they can result in many injuries. The common injuries from retail store slip and falls include:

Sadly, a retail store slip and fall can also cause fatal injuries. Here, the injured party could die on the spot or later. Whatever the case, the deceased’s estate can institute a wrongful death lawsuit for this death. 

Finally, it’s crucial to distinguish slip and falls from heights. A customer can fall off a height when reaching for products placed high on a shelf. However, this isn’t a typical slip and fall scenario. Whatever the case, it’s always best to see a medical doctor after a slip and fall. This will ensure that you get urgent medical treatment for your injuries. 

Can I Sue a Retail Store Following a Boston Slip and Fall Accident?

Yes, you can file premises liability claims against Boston stores for a slip and fall. However, a slip and fall in a retail store don’t automatically impose liability on the property owner. Instead, you’ll have to establish that the store is the fault party. This is where an experienced slip and fall injury lawyer in Boston becomes useful. 

Firstly, your attorney must prove that your accident resulted from negligence. Furthermore, this must be the negligence of the retail store owners or controllers. Slipping on liquids spilled by you or on your shoelaces clearly cannot be the retail shop’s fault. Negligence here doesn’t mean that the retail store managers must have poured the slippery substance onto the floor.

Instead, it’s sufficient that they didn’t clean up the dangerous liquid. The law also doesn’t impose unreasonable legal duties. So, the retail store’s duty of care will be judged on a case-by-case basis. For instance, let’s imagine that kids poured water on the shop’s floor. The parents then report this mistake to the store’s employee, who places a “Wet Floor” sign.

After placing this sign, they then go off to get cleaning equipment. Unfortunately, customers can slip and fall before the cleaner gets back. However, proving the retail store’s liability in this instance will be challenging. This is because they did everything possible to prevent a slip and fall accident. 

Therefore, you cannot accuse them of negligence. The case would be different, though, if the store’s workers were reluctant to clean the water. In addition, without placing a warning sign, you can easily prove their liability. 

Factors That Determine Liability in a Slip and Fall Accident

So, it’s clear that certain factors will impact the retail store’s liability. Some of these factors include:

Duration of the Hazardous Substance’s Presence

How long property owners, such as business owners, leave dangerous substances on their property can affect their liability. Leaving spilled liquids on the floor for hours can thus amount to negligence. In addition, a store owner didn’t exercise reasonable care if they left faulty building parts or poor lighting to linger for long. 

Failure to Post Warning Signs

Furthermore, the law understands that property owners cannot immediately fix all hazardous conditions. Therefore, it allows them to take reasonable precautions to prevent major or minor accidents. However, the property owner will have to warn the public about these hazards. So, putting up warning signs is crucial. It’ll thus be a breach of duty if a retail store neither fixed a hazardous condition nor warned their customers of the danger.

Other relevant factors a personal injury attorney will consider are:

  • The exact location of the slip and fall accident
  • The time the accident occurred
  • The injuries you sustained following your fall
  • Whether there were any witnesses to the slip and fall mishap
  • The cause of the slip and fall

These elements will help an experienced attorney determine whether you can sue the Boston retail store.

Can You Be Partially Liable for Your Slip and Fall Accident?

Yes, you can share all or some of the blame for a slip and fall in a Boston retail store. If you do, then Massachusetts comparative negligence rule will kick in. The comparative fault principle calculates your contribution to your accident. Then, it reduces your compensation based on your contribution. Usually, this calculation is done in percentages.

For example, imagine that you sustained losses worth $1,000 following your fall. Now, suppose your contribution to the accident was 30%. This means that the comparative negligence rule will remove about $300 from your settlement or judgment. Therefore, you’ll only get compensation for the retail store’s negligence — $700. 

This means that the retail store and concerned insurance companies will try to pin the slip and fall accident on you. If they succeed, they can reduce the compensation amount. There are arguments usually canvassed to achieve this goal. For example, the store could argue that:

  • The dangerous condition was obvious, and you negligently missed it 
  • The hazardous area was cordoned off by warning signs such as cones or signages
  • Your shopping footwear was inappropriate for the period or environment
  • You weren’t attentive to your surroundings as you shopped

Your contribution to the slip and fall store accident can also deny you all damages. This will only be the case where your contribution is above 50%. In addition, this principle applies in court and during settlement negotiations. Therefore, you must hire a personal injury lawyer. This is the only way to avoid responsibility for an accident you didn’t cause and get the maximum compensation.

Recoverable Damages in a Retail Store Slip and Fall Accident

After establishing liability in a slip and fall accident, you can recover compensation for your losses from the mishap. This is necessary since it’ll be unfair to bear the financial consequences of the retail store’s negligence. Therefore, you’ll be eligible for the same classes of damages you can get in a normal personal injury claim.

So, we explain some of these types of damages below. 

Economic Damages

Economic damages cover your actual financial losses from the accident. These would include:

  • Medical bills 
  • Ambulance costs
  • Cost of hospital admission and equipment
  • Lost wages 
  • Cost of lost or damaged property

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages refer to losses that aren’t easily financially quantifiable. The courts cannot easily assign a dollar amount to these losses. Therefore, they employ several calculation methods for reaching reasonable figures. Examples of these classes of damages include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Cost of future medical treatment
  • Loss of consortium

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Boston Slip and Fall Claims?

Suppose you want to file a claim against the Boston retail store. Then, you’ll have to do this within legal time frames. This is because the law doesn’t allow injury victims to institute legal claims whenever they like. Instead, you must file your lawsuit within strict legal deadlines. So, missing such a deadline will be detrimental to your Boston slip and fall claim.

Notably, this statutory period is defined by the Massachusetts Statute of Limitations. The law is the general statute of limitations applicable to all Massachusetts personal injury claims. So, you must file your claim within three years. The time starts to count from the date of your retail store accident. 

Suppose the slip and fall result in wrongful death. Then, the deceased’s estate can file a wrongful death claim. They also have a 3-year window for this lawsuit. However, the clock doesn’t start ticking on the accident date. Instead, the time starts counting on the death date. However, it’s noteworthy that this statutory period generally wouldn’t apply to an insurance claim.

Are There Exceptions to the Massachusetts Personal Injury Statute?

The retail store can inform the court if you miss this limitation period. Then, the judge may have to deny your claim. Fortunately, though, there are exceptions to the statute of limitations. These exceptions only apply in limited instances, though. For example, minors cannot institute legal proceedings on their own.

Therefore, the statutory period will be paused until they attain majority. In addition, defendants sometimes leave the state. The courts thus can’t compel you to sue an absentee defendant. However, this exception is unlikely to apply since you’re dealing with a retail store. It’s highly unlikely that the shop owners will abandon it and run after your injury.

Let the Best Boston Slip and Fall Injury Attorneys Help You!

Are you a survivor of a retail store slip and fall mishap? If you are, you can recover compensation from the retail store for breaching their duty of care. However, you need the best Boston slip and fall accident lawyers to succeed. Proceeding alone against a retail store will be challenging. 

Many such retail stores have sufficient funds to hire the best personal injury law firms. Therefore, an injury victim must have legal representation too. At Michael Kelly, we have several years of combined experience in winning personal injury claims. Therefore, it won’t be hard to win your case too. Call us today for a FREE consultation. 

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I would highly recommend Michael Kelly to anyone who is seeking a knowledgeable, experienced, and dedicated lawyer.

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Michael D. Kelly has a diverse background that provides a breadth of legal knowledge that he draws upon in serving his clients. Kelly compiled an excellent academic record during his three years at New England Law in Boston.