Articles Posted in Premises Liability

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If you have ever signed up for a gym or health club, chances are you also signed a liability waiver, waiving your ability to later bring a claim against the facility if you got hurt due to the facility’s negligence. According to WFAA Channel 8, several customers injured at a trampoline park in Texas are finding it difficult to recover any compensation for their injuries. The trampoline park asserted the legal defense that because these customers signed liability waivers, the customers’ claims against it are limited. Signing waivers and releases are considered contractual in nature, and generally upheld by Massachusetts Courts. A few examples of this are the cases Lee v. Allied Sports Assocs., and Sharon v. City of Newton. However, there are exceptions to their validity.

According to M.G.L. ch. 93, §80, “No contract for health club services may contain any provisions whereby the buyer agrees not to assert against the seller or any assignee or transferee of the health club services contract any claim or defense arising out of the health club services contract or the buyer’s activities at the health club.” While many gym or health clubs continue to have these waivers embedded into their contracts, liability waivers that bar you from bringing such claims against health club services are actually unenforceable.

In the landlord-tenant context, waivers for the landlord’s failure to provide for the tenant “…water, hot water, heat, light, power, gas, elevator service, telephone service, janitor service or refrigeration service to any occupant of such building or part thereof…” or landlord’s other wrongful acts are unenforceable pursuant to M.G.L ch. 186, §14. This statute explicitly states “Any waiver of this provision in any lease or other rental agreement…shall be void and unenforceable.”

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You might find yourself facing an uphill battle against the government when trying to recover compensation due to the negligent act of a public employee. Many states have laws that limit the amount an injured person can recover and even whether an injured person could recover at all. According to New England Cable News, several people have tripped over the historic old bricks of that cover Boston City Hall Plaza, suffering injuries such as broken bones, concussions, and damage to the jaw, lips, and knees. When they tried to file claims against the government, their claims were rejected by the city due to a state law that grants the city sovereign immunity from ordinary negligence.

Keep in mind however that there are nuances to the broad doctrine of sovereign immunity. In Massachusetts, the state legislature carved out an exception for personal injury claims against public employers in the form of the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act. M.G.L. c. 258, §1 defines Public employer as, “commonwealth and any county, city, town, educational collaborative, or district, including the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, any duly constituted regional transit authority and the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and any public health district or joint district or regional health district or regional health board….”

An injured person in Massachusetts can then sue the government pursuant to M.G.L. c. 258, § 2, for the, “…injury or loss of property or personal injury or death caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any public employee while acting within the scope of his office or employment, in the same manner and to the same extent as a private individual under like circumstances, except that public employers…shall not be liable for…any amount in excess of $100,000….” If you were hurt on a government property and received bills from medical providers that exceed $100,000, you might only be able to recover the $100,000. The exception to this cap on recovery is for very serious bodily injury claims against the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (“MBTA”). M.G.L. c. 258, §1 defines “serious bodily injury” as, “bodily injury which results in a permanent disfigurement, or loss or impairment of a bodily function, limb or organ, or death. So, if you suffered permanent disfigurement or loss of a bodily function, then your damages can go beyond the $100,000 cap.