Important New Massachusetts Premises Liability Decision

The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts recently altered the law surrounding slip and fall accidents.  Under the traditional approach, a storeowner would only be liable if there was notice of the dangerous condition that caused the injury.  Notice could be shown in one of three ways.  First, that the owner created the dangerous condition.  Two, that the owner knew of the dangerous condition.  Three, that the owner should have known about the dangerous condition, and failed to correct it.  Establishing any one of these standards is often difficult for a plaintiff to prove.

Now, under the more modern "mode of operation" approach, a storeowner can be held liable for injuries where (1) injury is caused from a "self-service" mode of operation where customers help themselves, and the risk of injury is reasonably foreseeable and (2) the owner failed to take reasonable measures to protect against the risk of injury, and (3) that the owner failed to act reasonably.

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