Massachusetts Court Discusses Establishing the Standard of Care in a Fall Case

All falls can potentially cause harm but falls from roofs, and other high places typically cause critical injuries. Despite the severity of injuries suffered by people that fall from substantial heights, they can generally only recover damages if they can prove their falls were caused by another party’s carelessness. This requires, in part, proof of the applicable standard of care. As demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts ruling, the courts will only consider relevant evidence in determining what standard applies in fall cases. If you sustained injuries in a fall, you should meet with a trusted Massachusetts personal injury attorney to evaluate what damages you may be owed.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is alleged that the plaintiff worked for a roofing company the defendant hired to remove snow from the roof of one of its properties. While on the job, the plaintiff fell from the roof. He suffered significant injuries in the fall and subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging its negligence led to his fall and ensuing injuries.

Reportedly, before the trial, the plaintiff moved in limine for the court to admit Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations and publications into evidence. The court denied the motion. The jury found in favor of the defendant, deeming the defendant thirty percent liable and the plaintiff seventy percent liable for the fall. The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the court abused its discretion in denying his motion in limine.

Establishing the Standard of Care in a Fall Case

The appellate court explained that the OSHA regulations the plaintiff sought to introduce pertained to fall protection and issuing citations at multi-employer worksites. In denying the plaintiff’s motion, the trial court ultimately determined that such regulations were irrelevant, as the defendant did not employ the plaintiff, and as the regulations only applied to workplace standards on construction sites, they did not set the standard of care.

The appellate court found that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the plaintiff’s motion. It noted that while violations of regulations can be used as evidence of negligence, the plaintiff did not demonstrate that the regulations in question were admissible for that purpose or were relevant to establishing the standard of care that applied to the defendant. Specifically, the plaintiff failed to explain how the OSHA regulations pertained to the determination of the common law standard of care imposed on a property owner. Thus, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Speak to a Seasoned Massachusetts Attorney

Falls from high elevations often cause catastrophic injuries, and many people who suffer such harm can recover compensation for their losses. If you sustained devastating harm in an accident caused by another party’s negligence, you should speak to an attorney about your options for pursuing damages. John S. Moffa of the Law Offices of John S. Moffa is a seasoned personal injury attorney with the skills and resources needed to help you seek a just outcome, and if you engage his services, he will diligently pursue the best outcome possible in your case. You can reach Mr. Moffa through the online form or by calling 508-362-5554 to set up a conference.

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