The great winter storm that struck Massachusetts this holiday season left many suffering from record snowfall and bitter cold. Shoveling snow in these weather conditions can be miserable or even dangerous. Still, if you live in North Andover, you are responsible for clearing snow and ice from your property.
State and local laws on snow removal
For 125 years, Massachusetts law held that property owners were not responsible for removing snow and ice from their premises.
However, this changed in 2010. That year, the state’s Supreme Judicial Court ruled that property owners can be held liable if they do not clear snow and ice from their premises. This includes walkways and sidewalks abutting their property. This means that in North Andover, you must clear snow and ice from your premises and sidewalks. However, there are no deadlines for doing so. In addition, you will not be fined for failing to do so.
Premises liability and winter hazards
Still, you could face civil liability if you do not clear snow or ice from your premises or sidewalks and a person slips on the accumulated snow or ice and injures themselves.
Accumulated snow and ice are a hazard. People naturally expect that, now that you have an obligation to keep your walkways and sidewalks free from snow and ice, they are safe to walk on. It is well known that if you slip on an icy or snow-covered sidewalk, you could fall and injure yourself.
You have a duty to take reasonable steps to keep their premises safe for visitors so that your visitors will not suffer predictable injuries. If you fail to meet this duty, and a person injures themselves on your property, you could be held liable for these injuries through a premises liability lawsuit.
So, when winter weather hits North Andover, you must meet your legal obligations to keep your premises clear of snow and ice. Doing so keeps others safe and helps you avoid legal liability. And if you are injured on a slippery sidewalk or walkway, you may have grounds for a premises liability lawsuit.