When a slip-and-fall accident happens on someone else’s property, the injured party often seeks compensation for their injuries and related expenses.
In Massachusetts, the presence of warnings or disclaimers can play a significant role in determining liability.
The significance of warnings
Property owners have a responsibility to maintain safe premises for visitors. This includes regularly inspecting and addressing any hazardous conditions. When a potential hazard cannot be immediately eliminated, posting warning signs is a common practice. Warnings serve as an alert to visitors, giving them an opportunity to exercise caution.
While warnings can be helpful, they do not automatically absolve property owners of liability in slip-and-fall cases. The key question is whether the warning was reasonably visible and clear enough for a person to notice and understand. If a warning fails to meet these criteria, it may not negate liability.
The role of disclaimers
In some cases, property owners may use disclaimers to limit their liability. Disclaimers are typically written statements that attempt to shift responsibility away from the property owner and onto the visitor. However, the effectiveness of disclaimers is not absolute.
To be legally binding, disclaimers must meet certain conditions. First and foremost, they must be prominently displayed and easily noticeable. Hiding a disclaimer in fine print on a contract or a sign is unlikely to hold up in court. Additionally, disclaimers cannot absolve property owners of liability for gross negligence or intentional harm.
Globally, 37.3 million people require medical attention due to a fall every year, many of whom face long-term medical consequences. Warnings and disclaimers can be important elements in slip-and-fall cases, but they do not automatically negate liability.