Massachusetts Court Explains How to Establish Liability in a Slip and Fall Accident

Fast food businesses serve a high volume of customers each day, and it’s not uncommon for trash or spills to accumulate on the ground. As such, people often slip and fall on transient substances on the floors of fast food establishments and suffer injuries. In many cases, a person hurt in an accident at a fast-food establishment will sue the owner for damages. Recently, a Massachusetts court issued an order in which it explained what a person seeking compensation for a slip and fall incident at a fast-food establishment must prove to demonstrate liability. If you were hurt in a fall, you should speak with a capable Massachusetts personal injury attorney to assess what claims you might be able to file.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

Allegedly, the plaintiff visited the defendant fast food establishment for lunch. She placed her order, received it, and sat down. She then got back up and, while using a cane, walked to the condiment counter. On the way there, she encountered a pool of an unknown substance on the floor, which caused her to lose her footing and fall.  She couldn’t tell what kind of liquid it was or how long it had been on the floor but reported that it soaked through her clothes.

It is reported that the plaintiff filed a personal injury claim against the owner of the restaurant, saying that it was negligent in failing to keep the property safe. The restaurant owner moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff could not prove it breached any duty owed to the plaintiff. The court denied the motion.

How to Establish Liability in a Slip and Fall Accident

The plaintiff maintained that there were enough issues of fact that needed to be determined by a jury to prevent summary judgment, regardless of whether the court assessed liability under the traditional or mode of operation approach. The court agreed. The court elaborated that, pursuant to the traditional approach, if a customer falls and is injured as a result of a foreign substance on the floor, the injured party can show that the business owner was negligent by demonstrating that the dangerous substance was caused by the business or that the business had actual knowledge of the substance’s presence. The injured party may be able to establish constructive notice by showing that a substance existed for such a long time that that the business owner should have been aware of it.

An injured party can prove culpability under the mode of operation method by demonstrating that an owner’s chosen mode of operation makes it relatively predictable that a harmful condition will develop. As a result, if a business owner fails to take reasonable care to safeguard individuals from the condition, he or she may be deemed negligent. In the instance at hand, the court determined that the defendant failed to show that summary judgment was required under either approach and dismissed the request.

Consult a Trusted Massachusetts Attorney Regarding Your Potential Claims

Slip and fall accidents can cause significant trauma, and when such accidents occur at fast food establishments, the owner of the establishment may be deemed accountable.  If you were hurt in a fall, the trusted lawyers of The Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III, can advise you of your rights and help you to seek the full amount of compensation recoverable.  You can contact us via our online form or by calling us at 888-262-6664 to set up a meeting.


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