In 2010, in a case known as Papadopoulos v Target Corporation, the high court of Massachusetts overruled one hundred and twenty-five years of snow removal laws. The ruling made citizens liable for any injuries sustained when someone slips and falls in the snow or ice on their property. The removal of snow and ice on a person’s property became the responsibility of the property owner. This case law did away with the old law which stated that property owners could allow naturally accumulated snow and ice on their property and would not be liable for accidents. With this new law in place, property owners in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts must remove any snow and ice from their property just as they would any other dangerous substance or condition. Personal Injury Lawyer Deborah Gold-Alexander understands how confusing the laws can be for both property owners and for those who have been injured in a slip and fall in the snow. If you have any questions on injuries sustained in snow and ice, give her a call. Here are a few questions and answers concerning slip and fall in the snow.
How Soon Must I Shovel Away Snow and Ice on My Property?
The new law does not give a definite answer to this question, although the jury and court system has its own methods of figuring liability. In some cases, the City of Boston will allow businesses to wait three hours before clearing away any snow and ice, and residents will be allowed as much as six hours. The people of Worchester have a little more leniency, with a twelve hour window before snow and ice must be removed. While these examples are the norm for how long snow and ice has been allowed to stay on a person’s property or place of business, it is always best to clear any dangers away as quickly as possible to avoid liability. In most cities and towns, residents and business owners are also responsible for the sidewalks in front of their properties as well.
Is a Tenant or Landlord Responsible for Removing Snow and Ice?
In most cases, both the tenant and the landlord of a property is liable for any slip and fall in the snow accidents which occur on that property. In the event that someone suffers injury in a slip and fall in the snow and ice accident, most likely the injured party will sue both the tenant and the landlord. A landlord can have it put in the lease agreement that the tenant is responsible for the removal of snow and ice, but it is still the landlord’s responsibility to make sure that the tenant does so. In the event that you are a landlord with such a rental or lease agreement, and such a lawsuit has been filed against you, you can file suit against the tenant for failing to keep the agreement, but you may still be found liable in the slip and fall in the snow case.
What if the Mailman or Other Delivery Person Suffers a Slip and Fall in the Snow?
If there is a dangerous amount of snow and ice on your pavement, walkway or other part of your property, you may be liable for anyone who suffers a slip and fall in the snow and ice accident. When the law changed in 2010, it applied to everyone, both business owners and property owners as well as tenants. During the winter months, the upkeep of your property to protect it from ice, snow, and black ice is mandatory. If you have any questions concerning a slip and fall in the snow accident or about the liability of property owners in Massachusetts, give Personal Injury Lawyer Deborah Gold-Alexander a call today at 781-289-4235.