Owners of property and persons in control of property have a responsibility under the law to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition.  Now that winter is approaching, questions arise as to the responsibility of property owners, landlords and business owners to clear snow and ice on their properties.

Beginning in 1883 the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court began to analyze the duty of a landlord to a tenant who fell in a common area.  From this earliest decision arose what other states and commentators have called the “Massachusetts Rule.”  This rule provided that a landlord and others who owned or controlled property could not be held liable for natural accumulations of snow or ice.  When snow fell, the landlord or business owner could simply let the snow accumulate without fault.  However, owners of land could be found liable if a person was injured on the property due to an unnatural accumulation of snow or ice.  One of the earlier decisions in Massachusetts involved a tenant that slipped and fell on ice in a common area of a tenement house. In this case, the accumulation of ice was created by a broken water pipe.  The court imposed liability for the landlord’s failure to fix the pipe “for which he was as much responsible as if he had placed the water there by his voluntary act.”  Watkins v. Goodall, 138 Mass. 533, 537 (1885).

For over 100 years this distinction between natural and unnatural accumulations of snow and ice served as the basis for deciding whether an owner of land could be found responsible for the harms and losses of people who were injured due to winter conditions.  However in 2010, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in Papadopoulos v. Target Corporation, 457 Mass. 368 (2010), eliminated this distinction and held that there exists for “all hazards arising from snow and ice the same obligation of reasonable care that a property owner owes to lawful visitors regarding all other hazards.”  In other words, a landowner owes a duty of reasonable care for all conditions on his/her property.

If you’re lucky, you’ll never have to deal with the headache of being involved in a car accident.  Unfortunately, most of us will be involved in a collision at some point in our lives.  Statistics show that over the course of a typical long, driving lifetime, you should have a total of three to four accidents.  When you are involved in an accident there are numerous problems that arise.  First, and foremost, are any of the people involved hurt?  Even low impact collisions can cause injuries, including injuries you don’t feel immediately after the accident.  Here are a few tips on what to do if you’re involved in a car accident.

If either driver feels they’ve been injured or there is any vehicle damage, call the police.  Calling the police doesn’t necessarily mean one of the drivers will get a ticket or arrested, but it does ensure that there will be documentation of what happened including the identity of all persons involved and any witnesses.  A police report can be a vital piece of information if a dispute about the collision arises.

The police officer that responds will be gathering as much information about the collision as he or she can, but this doesn’t mean you can’t collect your own too.  If you have a smart phone take pictures and take notes.  Pictures of injuries to yourself, vehicle damage, license plate numbers, skid marks, traffic signals and mile markers on the road, are all valuable pieces of evidence to preserve.  You don’t have to be exhaustive, just get what you believe to be the important evidence.  If you do end up in an insurance dispute or lawsuit, contemporaneous pictures and notes could help you against the other driver when often times collisions are not witnessed and the case becomes one of “he said versus she said.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has indicated that in 2015 more than 33,000 people died from opioid overdoses, which includes prescription opioids, heroin and fentanyl, and that nearly half of that number involved a prescription overdose. https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/index.html

The names of these prescription opioids are familiar to many of us: Methadone, Oxycodone (such as OxyContin®) and Hydrocodone (such as Vicodin®).

In addition to overdoses resulting in death, the widespread use of prescription opioids also results in other staggering statistics:

Construction site accidents are a leading cause of serious — and often fatal — injuries to workers. In 2013, according to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration [OSHA], 4,585 workers were killed on the job. This equates to more than 12 deaths every day. Of these, 20.2%, or 1 in every 5, were in construction. Four types of incidents lead to most of these deaths: (1) falls; (2) being struck by an object; (3) electrocutions; and, (4) being caught-in/between. Not surprisingly, OSHA has issued safety regulations in an effort to address safety hazards at construction sites. Nonetheless, in FY 2014, the top 10 most frequently cited OSHA violations included those in the areas of: (1) fall protection; (2) scaffolding failures; (3) ladders; (4) electrical, wiring methods, components and equipment; (5) powered industrial trucks; and, (6) machines and machine guarding.

People suffering serious injuries in the work or construction industry often face significant hurdles. First, they need expensive medical treatment. Second, they lose earning capacity, some of them permanently. While most employers are required to have workers compensation insurance to provide for medical care and the provision of some payments for lost wages, workers compensation is not designed to make an injured person whole in connection with their harms and losses. Rather, the medical treatment it provides is often subject to being fought by the employer’s insurer and the payments for lost wages are only a percentage of what the employee would have earned if not injured. In most cases, when an injured worker gets workers compensation payments, they are barred from bringing a claim against their employer.

That does not mean, however, that an injured employee is without other remedies. While an injured worker who is covered by workers compensation cannot bring a claim against his employer or co-workers, there are often other third-parties who can be held responsible if they negligently caused harm. General contractors, sub-contractors, vendors, suppliers and others may provide viable means of third-party recovery for injured workers. These third-party cases provide the opportunity for a more complete recovery on behalf of an injured worker, or their estate if they died on the job. Thus, claims can be made for all of the lost earning capacity and for all of the medical expenses. Unlike a workers compensation claim, in a third-party case the injured party can seek recovery for pain and suffering and the loss of enjoyment of life. These types of damages are often the most important and weighty for an injured person when their life has been fundamentally and permanently changed due to an on the job injury. In addition, the spouse and children of an injured worker may have the right to recover in a third party action for damage done to their relationship with the injured family member. This type of claim, known as a loss of consortium claim, is simply not available under workers compensation law. Thus, a third-party claim offers injured workers, and their families, their best chance for a full and fair recovery for their harms and losses.

When a visitor or patron is injured due to a slip and fall on another’s property in Massachusetts, the law imposes a burden on the injured party to establish that the owner or occupier of the land: (1) knew or should have known of the dangerous condition, and should have known that the condition involves an unreasonable risk of harm to those on the property; and, (2) should have expected that the visitor/patron would not discover or realize that danger, or will fail to protect themselves against it; and, (3) failed to protect their visitors/patrons against the danger. When the dangerous condition involves something spilled on the floor, the injured party can satisfy the first requirement if the operator of the business: (1) caused the substance to be on the floor; (2) the operator had actual knowledge of its presence; or, (3) the substance had been on the floor so long that the operator should have been aware of the condition.
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Imagine this: You or a person you love is seriously hurt in a car accident. But the person who hit you is driving a stolen car. Or they don’t have insurance. Or they have only a very small insurance policy. Are you left with little or no money to compensate you for very serious injuries? The answer is no, if you protect yourself through a good car insurance policy of your own. There are 2 parts of your insurance policy that you should seriously consider talking with your agent or your insurance company about: the Uninsured Motorist and Underinsured Motorist coverage. This coverage protects you if another person, who had little or no insurance, injures you. Here’s an explanation of how it works.
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Since the first winter storm hit Boston in January, the city experienced a record six feet of snowfall during a 30-day period – breaking the previous record of 58.5 inches, set in 1978. As a result of this historic snowfall, homeowners continue to feel the negative impact of these storms on their homes and in their wallets.
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On April 10, 2014, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, in Sheehan v. Weaver, held that owners/occupiers of certain buildings, as described under G.L. c. 143, § 51, are strictly liable for injuries caused by building code violations. The ruling applies to places of assembly and by the terms of the statute to special halls, public halls, factories, workshops, manufacturing establishments and “building[s]” as construed by the Court. As noted in the decision, “building” as used in the statute is narrowly defined. Single-family homes, owner-occupied two-family homes, and small scale residential structures would not be “buildings” covered by the ruling. The determining factor is not whether property use is “commercial” or “public.” Rather, the focus under the ruling is whether the property at issue is a place at which large numbers of people gather for occupational, entertainment, or other purposes. Such places must have been designed for continuing public assembly.
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In Klairmont v. Gainsboro Restaurant, Inc., 465 Mass. 165 (2013), the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court [SJC] clarified a number of issues about the interrelation of the wrongful death statute, G.L. c. 229, consumer protection claims under G.L. c. 93A and the survival statute, G.L. c. 228, §1.

Recently, defense interests had been arguing that claims arising out of a death were limited to wrongful death claims based on negligence theories. The SJC flatly rejected such an argument by holding that consumer protection claims under G.L. c. 93A can be brought under the survival statute by the Administrators of an Estate and that they are a distinct cause of action from common law wrongful death claims.
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Only days after a fire in an Allston building killed a Boston University student, the owner of the building, Anna Belokurova, has reportedly been cited by Boston police for allegedly running an illegal rooming house, and using the basement of the premises as bedrooms. According to Boston police, Belokurova allowed 19 people to live in the 2 story house, a violation of a Boston city ordinance. The ordinance states that a maximum of 4 unrelated students may live in a dwelling at one time, and according to police, there were 6 Boston University students living on the premises at the time of Lee’s death. Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley said that his office was also investigating the incident to determine if criminal charges may be brought.
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