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Are autumn leaves a slip and fall liability?

The arrival of fall brings with it the pleasure of watching the leaves turn. Fall is famous in New England because of the many vibrant colors, from bright yellow through to deep violet, that nature treats us to as the days grow shorter.

When leaves turn, though, they inevitably have to fall to the ground. Autumn invariably brings with it wet weather as well. Wet leaves, strewn along the sidewalks and streets, can pose a major risk of slips and falls. While winter’s ice and snow might get most of the attention for slip-and-fall injuries, a fall on wet leaves can result in injuries like a fall from any other cause: fractures, back injuries, head injuries, and sprains.

Under Massachusetts premises liability law, homeowners and commercial property owners are responsible for clearing even “natural” accumulations of leaves and snow.

If you’ve suffered an injury due to a slip and fall on wet leaves the owner of the property may be liable. If you’ve slipped in a commercial parking lot, entrance way, or sidewalk, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress, pain and suffering. Back pain is a common result of an injury due to a slip.

Contact our office to learn your rights and if you have a viable slip and fall injury case.

Will skipping a doctor’s visit now hurt my chances of a personal injury settlement later?

From a purely health perspective, we would have to recommend that you get yourself checked out at a doctor. With the rush of adrenaline and nerves you experienced immediately after the accident, your body may have been suppressing pain as part of your ancient survival mechanisms. You may not realize you are injured until you have had a chance to calm down.

Additionally, injuries, even serious ones, can take days to manifest themselves, or may not always have obvious symptoms. For your own health and safety, we would hope you go to a doctor immediately or shortly after a car accident, because it is no trivial matter.

On a financial level, the longer you wait to use your insurance or make claims against the other party’s, the more difficult it becomes to get paid for your medical bills or lost wages. The longer you wait to treat injuries, the more expensive your treatment could become.

In legal terms, skipping a doctor’s visit until injuries become more apparent does not prevent you from reaching a settlement later. However, it may make it more difficult.

In Massachusetts, there is a two-year period in which to claim personal injury after an accident under your no-fault benefits. However, the longer you wait after an accident, the easier it is for insurers and, later on, attorneys to argue that your medical expenses are not the result of the accident.

So, call your doctor—and then call us to discuss next steps.

How should I file a claim regarding a car rear-ending my car when traffic is paused?

Additional Information:  Traffic was at a standstill on Rte 9 in Worcester and I was rear ended while my car was stopped. A police report was filed, other driver was issued a citation.   As a result of the auto accident, I have nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, and some pain.  Damage to my car includes damaged bumper, inverted body frame, passenger side door has trouble opening, and right end wheel is skewed.   How should I file a claim with my auto insurance company?  And how do I get them to pay for future medical expenses? I am not sure if there will be future health complications and don’t want the insurance company to underestimate my injuries.

Attorney Answer:

The first thing to do is to notify your insurance company of the accident, either directly or through your insurance agent.  The company will send you a Personal Injury Protection benefits form to complete.  This will enable you to have your medical expenses related to the accident paid by your company.  You should then submit any medical bills, including any receipts for insurance co-pays to the company when you receive those bills so that it can pay the provider directly or can pay you.  Your insurance company will also want to know about damage to your vehicle, particularly if you have Collision coverage under your policy.  That coverage will enable you to have your company pay you for the damage to your vehicle.  If you do not have Collision, then you will have to seek payment from the other driver’s insurance company based upon that driver’s fault.  In either case, the insurance company will have someone examine the vehicle to appraise the damage and the cost of repair.  You should also have someone do that on your behalf, and the most likely person for that is the body shop that you will have repair the car.  Often, the body shop will deal directly with the insurance company to agree on the repairs to be done and the cost of those repairs.  You should also contact an attorney to determine whether there are other actions you should take to preserve your rights to claim your damages.

Can I retract accepting the offer from the insurance company?

Additional Information:

I was in a serious auto accident in Worcester area.  My physician recently said I need surgery for my back injury and referred me to a neurosurgeon for a medical evaluation.  I am waiting for my HMO insurance to approve the referral to see the neurologist.  I originally declined the settlement offer from the insurance company but recently verbally accepted it as it could take weeks to get the referral and appointment with the neurologist.  I think I should hire a personal injury attorney, can I retract accepting the offer? I have not signed anything yet.

Attorney Answer:

Whether or not you can retract your acceptance is going to depend on how the original offer was worded.  If the original offer from the insurance company was still open at the time you accepted the settlement, then you may not be able to retract, you would have to get in touch with a lawyer.  However, if the offer closed when you originally rejected it, then you may be able to retract your current verbal acceptance, as long as the insurance company hasn’t accepted your agreement to the settlement or done anything in reliance on your acceptance.  You should gather all information your insurance company has provided you with and consult an attorney before moving forward.  There are a number of factors that could influence what your next step should be, and without looking closely at the wording of the offer and the terms of acceptance, retracting your agreement could leave you in breach of contract.

Was in car accident, if my auto coverage is insufficent can she sue me?

Additional  Information:

I was involved in a car accident in Millbury and the police have sited me and majority fault is on me. I only have liability insurance that covers $15,000 per person.  If the other driver’s injuries or property damages exceed my policy limit, can he sue me to recover any additional costs?  I’m worried because I wouldn’t be able to cover it.  What should I do?


The policy limits are the maximum amount that the insurance company will pay on your behalf.  If the damages exceed the policy limits, then you may be responsible for anything above those limits.  The insurance company will try to settle the claim within those limits, but sometimes that is not possible, and it will pay the limits without obtaining a release, meaning you are responsible for the excess, if the claimant files suit and recovers a judgment.  [Read more…]

Was in car accident with a pedestrian. Is she suing me?

Additional Information:

I was in an auto accident with a pedestrian.  I was driving through a parking lot in the Greater Worcester area and  just as I started to go I saw her.   The car was idling forward, my foot wasn’t even on the gas yet.  I immediately hit the brakes and my vehicle barely bumped her.  It looks like she was just stunned or lost her balance and she fell to the ground.    I immediately went to her to make sure she was OK, and she said “It’s OK, I’m good”.   Now I’ve been contacted by her attorney.  Is she seriously sueing me?  What should I do?


The first thing you should do, if you have not already done it, is to notify your auto insurance carrier of the accident and the fact that the pedestrian’s attorney has contacted you.  You may want to hire an attorney to advise you whether you need to file an accident report with the Registry of Motor Vehicles and the Police Department, if you have not already filed the report.  Your Personal Injury Protection insurance coverage on your auto policy covers pedestrians, such as the one you bumped with your car here.  That means that her reasonable medical expenses and lost wages are paid by your insurance company so you need to provide the accident information to your insurance company, and it will handle her claim.  The contact by her attorney may only mean that she wants to open a PIP claim with your carrier, not that she is suing you.  [Read more…]

I tripped and fell and was injured. Can I sue the landlord?

Additional Information:

I was involved in a trip and fall due to a faulty porch at a friend’s place in Auburn, Mass. The property owner claims he didn’t know about the broken step. I know that the he (landlord) knew about the hazard because he told my friend (the tenant) that he will fix it soon. Basically the porch is rotting and as it is the only entrance, we have to use it.  Can I sue him for my injuries?


The landlord’s liability for your injuries depends upon whether he bears responsibility for repairing the hazard.  The rental agreement between your friend and the landlord may shift that responsibility from the landlord to the tenant for some or all repairs, if the hazard is in an area rented to the tenant.  If the hazard is in a common area, as your question implies because you describe the porch as the only entrance, then the landlord would bear some responsibility for the repair or elimination of the hazard, particularly where he knew that it existed.  You should check your friend’s rental agreement anyway to see not only whether it imposes some responsibility on your friend for some repairs, but also to see if it the agreement requires your friend to indemnify the landlord for injuries occurring on the premises.  [Read more…]

I tripped and fell on a public sidewalk in Leicester and was injured.

Additional Information:

There was a defect in the sidewalk about 5 inches deep by 12 inches long in public sidewalk in Leicester. I tripped and suffered an injury to my knee and fractured my arm.  There were no signs but there was a witness, who lives nearby, and said that the defect has been there for weeks and the town was notified.  I plan to hire a personal injury attorney but was wondering if this is a pretty good case?


You do have a pretty good case, but the problem is that the town’s liability is capped by statute.  G.L. c. 84, §15 provides a limit of $5,000 for any injury upon a public way, and a sidewalk is part of the public way.  Your injuries might otherwise entitle you to a damage award much higher than the cap.  [Read more…]

While riding my motorcycle in Grafton, I was involved in an accident.

Additional Information:

The car in front of me stopped abruptly at a cross walk and though I was a good distance behind them, my brakes completely gave out on me. Upon further inspection I realized the calipers weren’t correctly mounted on the brakes, which is why they failed. I don’t have insurance, I had just bought the bike and the only reason I was riding it was to get it home. I was cited for riding without insurance. The person I crashed into said that there was no damage to her car, but is now trying to get me to pay $800 for some work. How do I deal with this?


You have a couple of options.  You can do nothing and wait to see if the other driver takes the initiative by filing a lawsuit over the damage.  In that action, you would be able to present your evidence that the accident caused no damage to her car, such as photographs taken at the time of the accident, the accident report filed by the police officer who cited you and the one filed by the other driver, if she filed one, and the testimony of the police officer who was at the scene.  Your other option would be to negotiate a settlement with the driver or to have an attorney negotiate one for you.  You should start with a request for a copy of the repair bill or damage appraisal.  In any event, you should not pay the driver anything without getting a signed release from  her so that she cannot come back for any further damages.  [Read more…]

My daughter and I were in an auto accident in Worcester.

Additional Information:

The other driver was driving a delivery truck.  My daughter suffered from mild traumatic brain injury, broken nose and jaw and is having post traumatic stress.  I am having continued debilitating migraines and am being monitored by a neurologist. What do I need to know when hiring a personal injury attorney for this auto/ truck accident?


Other clients have posed the same question, “What should we look for when hiring a personal injury attorney?”  Please click here to view attorney answer.   However, your question does not indicate which driver was at fault in the accident so you may be looking for two attorneys, one for you and one for your daughter.  As a passenger, she may recover from all of the drivers whose negligence contributed to the accident.  That could include you, even though you are her parent; there is no immunity from suit in that situation.  Thus, her attorney should be different than your attorney in order to avoid a conflict of interest.  You would be looking only to the other driver for a recovery.  [Read more…]