Jump to Navigation

Fallen on snow or ice this winter? You may have the right to damages

With the winter of 2013 on the horizon, snowy weather is soon to come. Although many in Massachusetts rejoice the coming of the season, the weather can bring many mishaps as snow and ice cover the sidewalks. Such conditions are ripe for slip-and-fall accidents, which can often result in broken hips, legs and arms. Who is responsible for such injuries when they happen?

Under the premises liability law of Massachusetts, it is the property owner, whether it is an individual, company or municipality. In Massachusetts, like other states, property owners have the legal duty to make the premises reasonably safe for others who are on the property. If the owner fails to do this, he or she can be held liable for damages-medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering-that arise because of the failure.

Snow and ice

The same general duty imposed by premises liability law is applicable to the removal of snow and ice. However, this was not always the case. Prior to July 2010, property owners were only liable if other persons were injured due to an "unnatural accumulation" of snow or ice. Under the law existing at that time, this meant that the snow or ice was put in place by artificial (or man-made) means, such as a leaky gutter causing a pool of ice that would not otherwise exist. Because of this rule, property owners could escape liability by leaving the snow or ice undisturbed on their properties, which often created hazardous results.

However, in July 2010, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court abolished the "unnatural accumulation" rule. Instead, the court adopted a rule that said that property owners have a duty to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition with regard to snow and ice, regardless of whether or not it was a natural accumulation.

As a result of the ruling, owners must clear their properties (including sidewalks) of snow and ice once it has developed, in order to meet their duties to keep their properties "reasonably safe." In addition to removing the snow, property owners must periodically check their properties to ensure that ice has not developed because of the thawing of the snow.

What to do if you are injured

Injuries from falls on snow and ice can cause medical conditions that do not initially appear to be serious (e.g. fractures or traumatic brain injuries). It is therefore important to seek medical treatment immediately. If possible, it is also a good idea to photograph the place where you fell by taking a photo with your cellphone camera. Otherwise, return to photograph the scene as soon as possible. Photographs are powerful evidence when proving that the property conditions were unreasonably dangerous.

As notice must be given to the property owner within 30 days of your injury, it is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Failure to give notice can seriously hinder your right of recovery. An attorney can advise you of your claim and work to ensure that the property owner is held accountable for the unsafe condition.

Questions? Contact Us:

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

close

Verdicts & Settlements

  • 285,000
    Suffolk Superior Court, woman slipped and fell at a night-club suffered torn ligament in knee requiring surgery.
  • $95,000
    Boston Municipal Court, woman slipped and fell on fluid on bathroom floor left by janitorial service suffered fractured wrist.
  • $270,000
    Suffolk Superior Court, woman, passenger in automobile rear-ended by 18-wheeler suffering herniated lumbar disc requiring surgical laminectomy.
  • $135,000
    Boston Municipal Court, woman operator of automobile broad-sided by tow truck tore knee ligament requiring surgery.
  • $90,000
    Suffolk Superior Court, woman operator of automobile broadsided by waste management truck suffered torn shoulder ligament requiring surgery.
  • $165,000
    Pre-Trial Settlement, woman swimming in lake struck in head by wave runner suffering closed head injury, full recovery.
  • $50,000
    Pre-Trial Settlement, woman passenger in automobile injured by drunk driver suffered fractured ankle, no surgery, policy limit.
  • $100,000
    Pre-Trial Settlement, woman passenger in automobile broadsided by another automobile suffering closed head injury, full recovery, policy limit.
  • $100,000
    Pre-Trial Settlement, woman pedestrian struck by automobile suffering a closed head injury, full recovery, policy limit.
  • $56,250
    Quincy District Court, man passenger in automobile struck tree suffered fractured nose and scarring.
  • $60,000
    Suffolk Superior Court, woman slipped and fell on icy sidewalk near private residence suffering fractured wrist.
  • $50,000
    Pre-Trial Settlement, woman pedestrian struck by automobile suffering torn knee ligament requiring surgery, policy limit.
  • $45,000
    Pre-Trial Settlement, woman slipped and fell within roast beef specialty store fracturing nose, full recovery.
  • $45,000
    Pre-Trial Settlement, man passenger in automobile striking another automobile suffering minor forehead scarring.

View All Verdicts & Settlements