Anyone who has lived through a Boston winter knows that they are no joke. In fact, each year, Boston gets about 47 inches of rain and 48 inches of snow. Both of these figures are significantly higher than the national average, which is 38 inches of rain and 28 inches of snow. Given this reality, it is no surprise to learn that winter slip and fall accidents are a significant source of injury in Boston.
Many slip and fall accidents are caused by accumulations of snow or ice in parking lots, sidewalks, and entryways. As a general matter of Massachusetts premises liability law, Boston businesses have a duty to those their customers to ensure that the property is safe and free of potentially hazardous defects. The accumulation of snow or ice is no exception.
However, that was not always the case. It used to be that businesses could only be liable for unnatural accumulations of snow or ice on their property. An example of an unnatural accumulation of snow is a pile of snow that was pushed to one side of the parking lot to clear the rest of the lot. Under the previous law, if a person was injured due to a natural accumulation of snow, the business owner could not be held liable. However, in a 2010 opinion, the state’s high court reversed the century-long distinction between natural and unnatural accumulations.