Winter in Massachusetts is a time of snow, ice and even hail. Property owners need to be aware of the potential liability they face if they fail to adequately address snow and ice, which can cause slip and fall injuries. In 2010, the MA Supreme Court decided that the same obligation that a property owner owes to lawful visitors as to all other hazards will apply to hazards arising from snow and ice. The property owner has a duty to “act with reasonable care.” Massachusetts property owners must remove or treat snow and ice like any other dangerous condition on their property.
Under what is known as “reasonable care” statutes, Boston business owners are allowed up to three hours to clear snow and ice from their storefronts. Residents are allowed up to six hours. Worcester on the other hand is allowed up to 12 hours.
Understanding the potential for injury
Unfortunately, slip and fall accidents on slippery sidewalks or staircases can cause serious injury. Injuries can range from minor scrapes and bruises but can also be fatal in some instances. Property owners are required to carry minimum amounts of liability insurance but in many cases, a slip and fall accident that causes spinal cord injury, brain damage or a fatality will not be nearly enough to cover the expenses of the person injured.
What to do if you are a victim
If you fall on another person’s property because they failed to keep the area free from snow or ice, you may have a personal injury case. In Massachusetts, a personal injury attorney who knows how the rules apply may be able to help you file a suit against the property owner. Keep in mind, even if the injuries seem minor initially, you should seek out immediate medical care as often injuries do not show up for 24 hours or more after a serious fall. If you are able, you or someone on your behalf should take photos of the area where you fell, showing the snow or icy conditions. If there were witnesses to the fall, you should obtain their name and phone numbers.
Property owners are obligated to provide for the safety of visitors and those who are walking legally on their property. This includes the sidewalks in front of their property. If you are injured, contact the Law Offices of Steven M. Houde, PC to review your case.