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.
Thus, business owners now have a general duty to exercise reasonable care when dealing with snow or ice on their property. Now, just because the court determined that landowners can be held liable for natural accumulations of snow or ice does not mean that businesses must station an employee outside during a snowstorm to constantly shovel freshly-fallen snow. Not surprisingly, courts allow landowners some grace period when it comes to clearing snow or ice from their property. However, there is no exact amount of time, and courts consider a variety of factors, including:
- whether the storm that resulted in the snow or ice was expected or came on suddenly;
- the amount of time the snow or ice was present;
- the visibility, or lack thereof, of the snow or ice; and
- whether the landowner made any attempt to clear the snow or ice.
Like other Massachusetts premises liability cases, the potential success of a winter slip and fall accident claims hinges on the surrounding facts. Anyone who has been injured after slipping on snow or ice should consult with a dedicated Massachusetts personal injury for assistance.
Have You Been Injured in a Winter Slip-and-Fall Accident?
If you or someone you love has recently been injured after slipping and falling on snow or ice, contact the dedicated Boston premises liability lawyers at the Law Offices of Barry Feinstein & Affiliates, P.C. At our Massachusetts personal injury law firm, we represent injury victims and their families in all types of injury claims, including car accidents, slip and falls, and wrongful death claims. To learn more, and to speak with a dedicated injury advocate about your case, call 800-262-9200 today. Calling is free, and we will not send you a bill for our services unless we can successfully recover on your behalf.