A sad headline: young woman falls through roof in South Boston and dies. The unidentified woman, who was only in her twenties, fell nearly five stories through a skylight on the roof of 281 Summer Street.
The woman and a friend were standing on the roof of the building on Saturday night, reports The Boston Globe. The friend could not remember where exactly the victim was standing, but she apparently fell through an unmarked shaft on the roof.
The building is seven stories tall, and the woman’s body was found at the third floor of the building. She was pronounced dead at the scene, reports the Globe.
It’s unclear why the woman and her friend were standing on the roof at the time of the accident. The roof was not meant to be used by people as there was no roof deck or communal space, reports the Globe. Instead, there were multiple blind shafts, utilities, skylights, and other hazards.
While the woman may have been trespassing on the roof at the time of the accident, this does not mean that the owners of the building are absolved from all liability for her death.
Often, people who are injured at a place they are not supposed to be are out of luck if they try to sue for personal injury. However, if the location is so “attractive” as to make it reasonable to expect people to trespass, the property owner may be liable for having an attractive nuisance. For example, if the property owner knew that people routinely snuck onto the roof, the owner should take reasonable steps to prevent injuries like locking the door to the roof or posting warning signs of the dangers on the roof.
The young woman who falls through roof in South Boston is tragic. But whether anyone bears responsibility for her death will depend on why the woman was on the roof, and whether the building owners took steps to prevent people from climbing up.