Massachusetts Court Declines to Uphold Premises Liability Claims Against an Insurer

Broadly speaking, property owners have a responsibility to ensure that people who lawfully enter their buildings do not encounter dangerous conditions. As such, if they neglect to do so and people suffer injuries as a result, they may be deemed for damages in a civil proceeding. The duty to protect invitees from harm does not carry over to the property’s insurers, however, as indicated in a recent judgement set forth in a Massachusetts premises liability case. If you were hurt in an accident that happened on property owned by another party, you may be entitled to compensation, and you should speak with a Massachusetts personal injury lawyer promptly.

The Injuries Suffered by the Plaintiff

It is reported that the plaintiff worked as a plumber. While fixing a boiler at a residence, he slipped into a sump pit in the basement that was filled with scalding water. When the sump was installed in 2001, it was connected to the boiler’s drain valves, permitting water to drain from the boiler. Following his injury, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit, alleging claims against the the insurance and reinsurance companies that provided coverage for the premises, as well as the insurance adjuster who performed a boiler check in 2015.

Allegedly, the plaintiff claimed that the defendants had a duty to observe and address the risks caused by the open sump, due to the fact that they inspected the property. The defendants moved for summary judgment, and the trial court granted their motion. The plaintiff then filed an appeal.

Liability of Insurance Companies

The appellate court upheld the trial court ruling. According to the appellate court, the plaintiff had to show that the adjuster that inspected the property acted negligently in order to recover damages. To put it another way, he needed to show that the adjuster owed him a duty of reasonable care, that the defendant failed to fulfill that duty, and that the breach caused him harm. The plaintiff was unable to establish both duty and causation, however.

The appellate court underlined that defining a duty entails allocating risk by balancing the likelihood of harm against the burden that would be imposed in the circumstances. Looking at current societal norms, policies, and traditions helps to answer the legal question of whether or not a party has a duty of care to another. The plaintiff argued that the defendants owed him a statutory, contractual, and common-law duty to inspect the pump in question. The court declined to adopt the plaintiff’s reasoning, and held that the the defendants bore no obligation to the plaintiff. As a result, it affirmed the trial court ruling.

Consult a Skilled Massachusetts Lawyer

Property owners have an obligation to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition, and if they fail to do so and people suffer harm as a result, they may be held accountable. If you were suffered harm due to a dangerous condition you encountered on someone else’s property, you may be able to pursue premises liability claims, and you should contact a lawyer. Attorney John S. Moffa of the Law Offices of John S. Moffa can advise you of your rights and aid you in seeking the full amount of damages recoverable under the law. You can contact Mr. Moffa through the online form or by calling 508-362-5554 to set up a conference.


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