Winter in Massachusetts is both beautiful and dangerous. Slip and fall accidents caused by failing to remove ice and snow accumulations injure many persons every year. In 2010, Massachusetts law was strengthened to include not only liability for accidents caused by man-made or “unnatural” accumulations of snow or ice, but also “natural” snowfall or icy conditions.
This liability is placed upon property owners to protect all visitors. A key issue in the determination of responsibility is if “reasonable” care was taken to protect visitors from snow or ice hazards on the property. Property owners include homeowners, municipalities, and private companies. If a third party has been contracted for snow and ice removal, responsibility for accidents still remains primarily with the property owner. A property manager, grounds keeper, snow and ice removal company, or anyone else responsible for maintaining safety on the property using a reasonable care standard may also be liable for slip and fall accidents.
Injuries from Slip & Fall on Ice or Snow
Maintaining balance on slippery or wet surfaces can be difficult and falling can result in bodily injuries of many types:
- Hip, elbow, or knee joint injuries
- Back injury
- Broken bones or fractures
- Hand, wrist, and arm injuries
- Sprains, strains, and muscle injuries
- Head, neck, or spine injuries
- Concussion, brain, and head injuries
What To Do First If Injured
If you are injured in a slip or fall on ice or snow, there are a few things you should do right away. After first securing appropriate medical care, if possible, do your best to document the history of your accident before you leave the scene, with photos and witness information, or have a friend go back quickly for photos. Serious injuries may require immediate medical attention, or your symptoms may not show up until days later. As soon as you have received medical attention for your injuries, contact Attorney Peter Ventura, a Central Massachusetts slip and fall lawyer, at 508-755-7535 for legal representation. He will meet with you to discuss potential legal actions you can take to obtain compensation for your injury expenses and other claims.
New Massachusetts Snow & Ice Laws
Current Massachusetts law imposes liability for injuries incurred due to negligent maintenance or lack of removal of snow and ice, irrespective of whether the ice or snow is considered natural or unnatural.
- Unnatural accumulations of snow and ice occur when a property owner attempts to remove the problem snow or ice, but the result is still dangerous conditions for visitors. For example, piles of snow can melt, causing ice to form over cleared sidewalks. Without putting down an ice melting product, or sand or salt, over the cleared walkways, visitors could still slip and fall on ice.
- Natural conditions occur during regular snowfall or ice storms, as snow or ice piles up on areas a visitor might use. Reasonable care in this situation might include putting down snow melting substances in advance of the storm and clearing snow during the storm or immediately afterward.
- Reasonable care involves foresight of potential problems and taking action to try to prevent hazards. Some local communities also pass snow and ice ordinances that require timely removal of snowfall or ice from walkways.
Slip and fall injury cases may hinge upon proof of these important factors:
- Owner caused the dangerous condition and that danger resulted in the accident
- The condition was known or should have been known to the owner, but not corrected
- Reasonable care was not used in addressing the dangerous condition
In addition to property owners having to use reasonable care in keeping their property free from hazards like snow and ice, other persons or businesses who in some way control, maintain or supervise property must also use reasonable care as well.
Central Massachusetts Slip & Fall Attorneys
Specific Massachusetts laws address snow and ice, and personal injury attorney Peter Ventura is aware of all currently applicable laws that would apply to your case. Time is of the essence in all legal matters. Massachusetts laws (MGL c. 84, §§ 18-20 & MGL c. 84, § 21) set a time period of 30 days in which to notify the municipality or property owner of injury or damage that has occurred on their property. The state also allows local counties, cities and towns to set their own regulations for snow and ice conditions.
If a property owner’s negligent maintenance or lack of snow or ice removal resulted in your slip and fall accident and caused you bodily injury, take steps to obtain fair compensation for those damages and medical expenses. Please contact our office today at 508-755-7535 for a free consultation to find out how we can help you.