Articles Tagged with Accident Lawyer

In Part 1, we discussed the duty owed by property owners in terms of snow and ice removal. In this post, we will discuss what happens if you are injured after slipping on ice or snow. It is important to know what steps are available to you and what, if any, fault you may have in the matter. 

As noted in the previous post, it used to be much harder to recover damages from a slip and fall caused by snow and ice. A 2010 Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) case (Papadopoulos v. Target Corp) overturned an over-a-century-old law regarding the accumulation of snow. The duty placed on property owners was raised and it became easier to prove negligence. However, just because it became “easier,” does not mean collecting damages will be easy. There are still multiple factors at play.

All slip and fall cases fall under a class of personal injury claims requiring you to prove negligence. You must establish a duty, a failure to meet that duty, injuries, and that the breach of duty caused those injuries. In a case of snow and ice-induced slip and fall case, the duty owed is by the landowner and he or she owes you “reasonable care” for a safe walking environment, that is, free of ice and snow. Further, you must suffer a significant injury, for example, sprained or broken bones or traumatic brain injury from hitting your head. Finally, you need to establish that the ice was the cause of your slip and fall. 

Winter in New England, a right of passage we all endure every year. No one can claim to be a real New Englander without going through a handful of winters full of blizzards, wind, and freezing temperatures. Cleaning off your car, shoveling the sidewalks and stairs, and salting or sanding the ice are all tenets of our yearly winter ritual. While many of us are used to the cold, snow, and ice, it is important to know what happens when those conditions result in an injury. In the first part of a two-part series, we will discuss what duty you owe as a property owner to others entering your property and what happens in the event someone is injured as a result of a fall on snow or ice. 

Under Massachusetts law, all property owners (commercial and residential) and landlords are legally responsible for snow and ice removal from their property. While each town and city has its own specific codes (and we encourage you to take a look at your city or town’s requirements), it is important to know the state law establishing this minimum. This means that any publicly-accessible areas, e.g., sidewalks or walkways, driveways, parking lots, etc., must be free of snow and “de-iced.”

This is a relatively new law, coming into effect on the heels of a 2010 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) ruling that overturned 125 years of precedent of unnatural vs. natural snow accumulation. The arcane distinction aside, the takeaway is that the SJC prioritized safety of guests and visitors. (That case was Papadopoulos v. Target Corp, which dragged snow and ice law into the 21st century. It got rid of the rule that a “natural accumulation” of snow means that a property owner wasn’t responsible for someone’s injury.). 

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