Rhode Island Personal Injury Lawyer
by Slepkow Law

There are hundreds of different types of premises liability causes of action in Rhode Island and Massachusetts ranging from a slip and fall on a slippery surface to negligent security. In general, premises liability is a term referring to an accident which occurs on real property owned by a person or entity. The liable entity could be a trust, partnership, limited liability corporation (llc), Corporation or a government entity.

RI business accident
Injured at a business in Providence

Injury negligence in RI

If you were injured as a result of the negligence of another in a premises liability accident then it is important that you quickly retain a personal injury attorney in RI. Slip and fall lawyers in Rhode Island will be able to advise you whether you have a viable negligence claim against the alleged at fault tortfeasor.

Many premises liability and  slip and fall claims in RI and MA are incidents caused  by a slippery or oily substance on the floor such as water, ice, snow,  juice, food, produce, oil or a soft drink. Many trip and fall and slips and fall accidents result from improper maintenance, a defective condition such as inadequate lighting or even defective ramps or stairs. The owner or entity in control of the premises can be held liable for an accident caused by the negligence of the owners of the property.

Duty owners owe to customers

Accidents can occur in a variety of settings, including apartment houses, multifamily residences, and businesses. These accidents can range from minor incidents to serious emergencies. Here are some common types of accidents that can occur in these settings:

  1. Slips, Trips, and Falls:
    • Wet or slippery floors
    • Uneven or damaged walkways
    • Loose rugs or carpets
    • Poorly lit areas
    • Cluttered common areas
  2. Fires:
    • Electrical faults
    • Cooking accidents
    • Smoking-related incidents
    • Faulty heating equipment
    • Arson
  3. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:
    • Malfunctioning heating systems
    • Blocked vents
    • Running vehicles in enclosed spaces (e.g., parking garages)
  4. Electrical Accidents:
    • Faulty wiring
    • Overloaded circuits
    • Exposed electrical components
    • Misuse of electrical appliances
  5. Structural Failures:
    • Collapses or partial collapses of buildings
    • Falling objects from buildings
    • Roof or ceiling collapses
  6. Elevator and Escalator Accidents:
    • Malfunctions
    • Entrapment
    • Sudden stops or drops
  7. Gas Leaks and Explosions:
    • Leaking natural gas lines
    • Faulty gas appliances
    • Ignition sources leading to explosions
  8. Swimming Pool Accidents:
    • Drowning
    • Slip and fall incidents
    • Chemical exposure
  9. Vehicle Accidents:
    • Collisions in parking lots or garages
    • Pedestrian accidents
    • Vehicle crashes into buildings
  10. Work-related Accidents:
    • Slips, trips, and falls at the workplace
    • Machinery accidents
    • Chemical spills
    • Inadequate safety measures
  11. Assaults and Security Incidents:
    • Robberies and break-ins
    • Assaults and fights
    • Inadequate security measures
  12. Health and Medical Emergencies:
    • Heart attacks
    • Strokes
    • Allergic reactions
    • Choking incidents
  13. Natural Disasters:
    • Earthquakes
    • Tornadoes
    • Floods
    • Hurricanes
    • Fires
  14. Structural Maintenance and Construction Accidents:
    • Accidents during renovation or construction work
    • Falls from heights
    • Equipment accidents
  15. Toxic Substance Exposure:
    • Hazardous material spills
    • Mold infestations
    • Chemical exposures

Preventing these accidents often involves implementing safety measures, conducting regular inspections, maintaining equipment, and providing safety training for residents and employees. It’s essential for property owners and businesses to take safety seriously to minimize the risk of accidents and ensure the well-being of occupants.

What responsibility in general do owners and/or possessors owe to visitors and customers on real estate in Rhode Island? A homeowner should get a homeowner insurance policy covering liability to third parties for accidents causing injury or death. Owners and possessors of real property must act reasonably to prevent injuries and fatalities on their land.

The Rhode Island Supreme Court, sitting in the Capital city of Providence, in HABERSHAW v. MICHAELS STORES, INC. 42 A.3d 1273 (2012),  stated that “It also is well settled in our jurisprudence that there is an affirmative duty on owners and possessors of property: “to exercise reasonable care for the safety of persons reasonably expected to be on the premises * * * includ[ing] an obligation to protect against the risks of a dangerous condition existing on the premises, provided the landowner knows of, or by the exercise of reasonable care would have discovered, the dangerous condition.” Kurczy v. St. Joseph Veterans Association, Inc., 820 A.2d 929, 935 (R.I.2003) (quoting Tancrelle v. Friendly Ice Cream Corp., 756 A.2d 744, 752 (R.I. 2000)); accord Mead v. Papa Razzi Restaurant, 840 A.2d 1103, 1107 (R.I.2004).”

Are owners and possessors of real property guarantors of the safety of invitees and guests? There is no strict liability for almost all accidents causing injury or wrongful death on real estate. Negligence must be established if the injured person desires to be compensated by the tortfeasor landowner. The top Court in RI further stated, “Although a business invitor is not a guarantor of the safety of those who might be expected on the property, a duty remains to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition for prospective business invitees.Terry v. Central Auto Radiators, Inc., 732 A.2d 713, 716 (R.I.1999).”

Liability concerns of commercial to the guests?

What liability concerns do a commercial owner / landlord have to the guests and invitees of its tenant? “under our well-settled law, a commercial landlord owes a duty of care to an invitee of its tenant only under the narrowest of circumstances * * * [and that] such a landowner is not liable for injuries that the tenant‟s invitee suffers on the leased premises, unless the injury results from the landlord’s breach of a covenant to repair in the lease, or from a latent defect known to the landlord but not known to the tenant or guest, or because the landlord subsequently has assumed the duty to repair.” Id. Diane Berard v. HCP, Inc., et al

What Liability do owners of real estate owe to trespassers?

“It is a well-established principle of law that property owners owe no duty of care to trespassers but to refrain from wanton or willful conduct; and even then, only upon discovering a trespasser in a position of danger.” Hill v. National Grid, 11 A.3d 110, 113 (R.I. 2011). 

There are exceptions for children trespassers in what is commonly known as the attractive nuisance doctrine.

Clear Ice and snow

What liability do businesses and commercial establishments have to clear snow and ice to protect guests from injury on their property? If you were seriously injured in a premises liability mishap then it is crucial that you retain a Rhode Island Personal injury attorney. Info. A RI Slip and Fall Lawyer will be able to analyze the relevant facts and determine a course of action going forward.

Connecticut rule

Rhode Island has adopted the so called Connecticut Rule Concerning slip and fall on ice or snow liability. “Under the Connecticut Rule, a landlord or business invitor clearly has a duty to his tenants or invitees to clear snow accumulation and treat surfaces impacted by a storm. Id. at 502 (citing Fuller, 108 R.I. at 772, 279 A.2d at 440). However, this duty does not arise until a reasonable time after the storm has ended. Id. at 503 (citing Fuller, 108 R.I. at 774, 279 A.2d at 441); see also Barenbaum v. Richardson, 114 R.I. 87, 93, 328 A.2d 731, 734 (1974).”  69.pdf 

Types of premises liability in RI

There are hundreds of different types of premises liability causes of action including inadequate maintenance, defective or unreasonably dangerous escalators, dog bite and dog attack,  construction accidents, fatal accidents, Amusement park accidents, Sidewalk falls and asbestos litigation.

Types of injuries

An accident, mishap or collision can occur anywhere, including a restaurant, stadium, fast food restaurant, private home, mall, park or supermarket. These types of accidents, mishaps and crashes could cause hundreds of different types of injuries including: knee injury, fractured bone, back/ neck or arm injury as well as traumatic brain injury (tbi). Wrongful death litigation in Rhode Island is beyond the scope of this negligence post. Construction accidents and workers compensation in Rhode Island are beyond the scope of this post

Although a home may be a person’s castle, it will not provide protection from legal action if it is the scene of a “slip and fall” mishap. The victims of such accidents may be entitled to monetary damages to cover the cost of their injuries. The injured victim will also need the assistance of a Rhode Island personal injury attorney  or a RI slip and fall attorney to assure fair treatment under the law.

Slip and fall
Slip and fall

The Risk of Falling

Falls represent a leading cause of injury in this country, with nearly 1 million Americans requiring medical treatment after tumbling to the floor or ground. According to official statistics, one in five falls results in serious serious harm to the victim. Falls are in fact the leading cause of traumatic brain injury in the United States. Many of these accidents take place on private property.

Slip and fall on slippery floor

A fall occurring at a private dwelling can result from a wet or otherwise slippery floor, sidewalk or driveway. It may also stem from objects left on the ground, floor or stairway, or from defects in the property itself, including cracked pavement or torn carpeting. These and other conditions can result in litigation in Providence Superior Court if they cause someone physical and mental pain.

Understanding Premises Liability law in RI

A tort is a civil wrongdoing. Though not considered a criminal offense, the guilty party in a tort case may have to financially compensate the victim. Premises liability is an element of tort law that specifically deals with accidents and injuries occurring on a given piece of property, including private dwellings. A large number of premise liability cases in Rhode island and Providence Plantations are related to the simple act of slipping and falling.

RI slip and fall  and premises liability law

“In order to win a “slip and fall” case, the victim must prove that the responsible party knew or should have known of a particular hazard and failed to take corrective action. Victims must also prove that their injuries resulted directly from known hazards and not  completely from their own irresponsible actions.” 42 A.3d 1273 (2012)Maureen HABERSHAW et al. v. MICHAELS STORES, INC. et al. No. 2011-94-Appeal. Supreme Court of Rhode Island. May 17, 2012. 1274*1274 Ronald J. Resmini, Esq., Providence, for Plaintiff. John A. Caletri, Esq., Providence, for Defendant. Present: SUTTELL, C.J., GOLDBERG, FLAHERTY, ROBINSON, and INDEGLIA, JJ. OPINION

Duty to exercise reasonable care

“It also is well settled in our jurisprudence that there is an affirmative duty on owners and possessors of property: “to exercise reasonable care for the safety of persons reasonably expected to be on the premises * * * includ[ing] an obligation to protect against the risks of a dangerous condition existing on the premises, provided the landowner knows of, or by the exercise of reasonable care would have discovered, the dangerous condition.” Kurczy v. St. Joseph Veterans Association, Inc., 820 A.2d 929, 935 (R.I.2003) (quoting Tancrelle v. Friendly Ice Cream Corp., 756 A.2d 744, 752 (R.I. 2000)); accord Mead v. Papa Razzi Restaurant, 840 A.2d 1103, 1107 (R.I.2004). Although a business invitor is not a guarantor of the safety of those who might be expected on the property, a duty remains to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition for prospective business invitees. Terry v. Central Auto Radiators, Inc., 732 A.2d 713, 716 (R.I.1999).” Id.

Unsafe condition on premises

“To recover in a slip-and-fall action such as the case before us here, a plaintiff “must present evidence of an unsafe condition on the premises of which the defendant was aware or should have been aware, and that the condition existed for a long enough time so the owner of the premises should have taken steps to correct [it].” Bromaghim v. Furney, 808 A.2d 615, 617 (R.I.2002) (citing Barone v. Christmas Tree Shop, 767 A.2d 66, 68 (R.I. 2001)).” Id.

Legal Representation by a Rhode Island personal injury attorney

A “slip and fall” mishap will not automatically result in the awarding of damages. There may be an attempt by the property owner to place at least some of the responsibility on the victim, which can greatly reduce the size of the award. Proper legal representation by a Rhode Island personal injury attorney or a  RI slip and fall attorney is needed to ensure the best possible outcome in a tort case. This is why the victims of “slip and fall” accidents should consider seeking the services of a Rhode Island personal injury attorney or a RI slip and fall attorney .

Information for this account was obtained from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at CDC

Legal Notice per Rules of Professional Responsibility: The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers and attorneys in the general practice of law, but does not license or certify any lawyer / attorney as an expert or specialist in any field of practice. While this firm maintains joint responsibility, most cases of this type are referred to other attorneys for principle responsibility.

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