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  • Attorney John Finbury takes novel issue in a negligence claim against the City of Haverhill to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and wins.

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    Click here to watch oral argument
  • $500,000 worker's compensation settlement
    for Massachusetts Home Depot employee who suffered severe spinal injury when he hyperextended his body in order to avoid being struck by employee pushing carriages towards him in an aisle.
  • $400,000 worker's compensation settlement
    for Massachusetts truck driver who injured lower back as a result of a fall in gas station while delivering gasoline.
  • $230,000 worker's compensation settlement
    for employee who developed RSD/CRPS following finger joint surgery for work-related repetitive stress injury.
  • $1.5 Million Verdict
    in Essex County for serious personal injuries caused by a drunk driver in a motor vehicle accident.
  • $1.4 Million Verdict
    in Essex County for a young man who was injured when a stool collapsed at a restaurant in Haverhill, Massachusetts. It was necessary to use experts in the field of medicine, economics, and vocational rehabilitation to prove the damages suffered by this client.
  • $1.3 Million Settlement
    In Essex County for an electrician injured in an arc blast while working in North Andover. He suffered burns and a fractured elbow. Medical, electrical and code experts were used to prove liability and damages. The firm is experienced in filing suit and litigating these types of cases in order to obtain the maximum benefit to which our clients are entitled.
  • $1.275 Million Settlement
    in Essex County where a motor vehicle chased by the police crashed and overturned resulting in injuries to a passenger. The injuries included fractured vertebrae which required surgery and which resulted in a permanent injury, as well as internal complications and lower leg ailments.
  • $1 Million Verdict
    in Essex County Superior Court (Lawrence, MA) for a wife who was beaten and stabbed by her husband, leaving her with significant permanent injuries.
  • $835,000 Settlement
    in New Hampshire for a medical malpractice claim and related workers' compensation claim involving a failed sympathetic block for complex regional pain syndrome.
  • $767,000 Settlement
    for a man who was partially paralyzed as the result of a motor vehicle collision. The plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle in which the operator was over-served at a club in Haverhill. Expert testimony was used to prove that improper training and serving procedures led to the over-serving of alcohol.
  • $750,000 Verdict
    in Newburyport Superior Court for a woman injured in an auto collision. The insurance company offered $75,000 to settle, one-tenth of the ultimate verdict. That offer was refused and we went to trial. With interest the verdict exceeded $1,000,000.
  • $650,000 Settlement
    for a liquor liability case in New Hampshire
  • $450,000 Workers' Compensation Settlement
    where a New Hampshire employee was contaminated by chemicals in the air at his place of employment in Massachusetts.
  • $450,000 Settlement
    in Hillsborough County New Hampshire where a young teacher slipped and fell while exiting a convenience store resulting in orthopedic injuries and a closed head injury.
  • $400,000 Verdict
    in Middlesex County Superior Court (Cambridge, MA) for a young man injured at the Haverhill train station when the train began pulling away as he was boarding. A final offer of $25,000.00 was rejected. With interest, the final judgment was over $500.00.00.
  • $379,000 Arbitration Award
    For tenant in commercial lease dispute
  • $250,000 Verdict
    in Essex Superior Court (Lawrence, MA) for a mailman attacked by two dogs in the course of his employment, resulting in injuries to his back and neck as he was fleeing from the animals. With interest the judgment exceeded $316,000.00.
  • $250,000 Settlement
    in Rockingham county for a Newton, New Hampshire woman who was severely injured in a head-on collision resulting in multiple fractures.
  • $225,000 Settlement
    in Essex County where an employee slipped and fell on her way into work as a result of weather conditions. She settled with the workers' compensation carrier as well as the owner and property maintenance company.
  • $150,000 Verdict
    in Suffolk County for a patron of a bar whose leg was fractured by the negligent conduct of a security guard.
  • $150,000 Settlement
    in Rockingham county for a woman who was severely injured when she slipped and fell on water at a major department store. A lawsuit was necessary to obtain discovery which ultimately showed that the store allowed a freezer to leak for several days without adequate clean up..
  • $140,000 Settlement
    in Essex county for a Methuen woman who suffer a fractured hip on a dark outside stairway due to the landlord's failure to properly maintain the lighting.
  • $45,000 Settlement
    in Essex County for a boy under 2 years old who fell from a landing in a rented apartment due to improper construction of a railing.
  • $25,000 Settlement
    in Rockingham County for a man injured when he slipped on icy stairs at a mall in Southern New Hampshire as a result of negligent maintenance of the property.

Slip-and-fall accidents can lead to serious and debilitating injuries

A store’s failure to keep its premises safe from hazards could be deemed negligence warranting the imposition of damages if a customer is injured.

In an article on the demise of physical comedy, the New Yorker Magazine noted that "comedic falls" were long a staple of comedians such as Buster Keaton and Jerry Lewis. While many still consider physical comedy hilarious, a fall is nothing that you can laugh about if you fall and injure yourself while shopping at a store. Falls can result in serious and sometimes debilitating injuries. Indeed, even Jerry Lewis’s intentional and scripted comedic falls have caused him to suffer considerable permanent pain for the last 40 years.

A fall in a store caused by the negligence of the store owner can give rise to what is known as a premises liability claim for damages. In general, Massachusetts business owners must keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition for customers. Some of the more common slip (or trip) and fall hazards found on premises are:

  • Floors wet from water or liquids.
  • Uneven walking surfaces.
  • Broken or loose floor tiles.
  • Food items lying on the floor.
  • Holes in the floor or changes in the level of the floor.
  • Obstructions lying on the floor.

According to the National Safety Council, falls are one of the leading causes of unintentional injuries in the United States. Falls account for approximately 8.9 million visits to hospital emergency rooms annually. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention observe that 20 to 30 percent of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries including leg injuries, hip fractures and head traumas. Indeed, falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.

Older people are especially vulnerable to injuries resulting from falls. Most fractures among senior citizens are caused by falls, with the most common being fractures of the hip, spine, leg, ankle and pelvis. When senior citizens fall hard and sustain injuries, those injuries can often diminish their ability to lead active and independent lives. Moreover, the number of fall deaths among those 65 and older is four times the number of fall deaths among other age groups.

Massachusetts law

In a recent case, Curet v. Walgreens Company, the Massachusetts Appeals Court took the opportunity to explain what an injured customer must establish in order to hold a store owner liable for damages sustained in a slip (or trip) and fall accident. According to the court, the long-standing rule is that a customer must identify the hazardous condition that caused him or her to fall, prove it was present prior to his or her injury, and show that the store had either caused the hazard to be on the floor, had actual knowledge that it was on the floor or had a reasonable opportunity to discover it and remedy it.

The Curet court noted that the traditional premises liability rule has been modernized a bit to allow for the self-service manner of operation employed by many stores today. If a customer who falls can prove that an unsafe condition existed on the store’s premises which was foreseeable and resulted from the owner’s self-service “mode of operation” the customer can hold the store liable.

Seeking compensation

If you or a loved one has been injured due to the fact that a business negligently permitted a dangerous condition to exist on the premises, you should contact a Massachusetts attorney experienced in handling premises liability cases. Although fall cases are sometimes challenging to prove, an attorney can investigate the facts and then assist you in attempting to hold the store accountable for the injuries which its negligence caused you to sustain.

Keywords: premises liability, slip-and-fall accident, injury, wet floors, uneven surfaces, Massachusetts