In Massachusetts, and in many other states across the country, failure to remove unreasonably dangerous snow and ice is illegal. In 2010, the Supreme Judicial Court determined that property owners are liable for any injuries that happen due to negligence caused by snow and ice build-up on their property. “Property,” under this rule may include the public sidewalk in front of a property owner’s home or business. Although it varies from city to city, most Massachusetts cities give residents between six and twelve hours after a blizzard to clean up.
The City of Montreal has been ordered to pay $132,236 to Gertrude Forstinger to compensate her for injuries she sustained during a slip and fall accident along an icy Montreal sidewalk. Under Canadian law, cities are not held liable for slip and fall accidents unless neglect can be proven. In short, it is not enough to say that snow and ice covered the city streets. It must be proven that the city failed to take appropriate measures to keep the premises safe for pedestrians. The law does not demand perfection, but it does demand that appropriate measures be taken.
The Montreal accident occurred in January of 2012 on LaSalle Boulevard. Forstinger had been walking her dog when she encountered a thin layer of snow. Unbeknownst to her, the snow had been concealing a large patch of slippery ice. The slip and fall accident caused Forstinger to suffer a broken wrist.
Forstinger’s attorney argued that despite freezing rain and other severe weather conditions that had occurred prior to Forstinger’s fall, the City of Montreal still had a duty to take appropriate safety measures. While the city was not required to remove every snowflake and patch of ice using a shovel and ice pick, the city arguably was required to spread abrasives on the sidewalks. This small task could have easily prevented Forstinger’s slip and fall. According to CTV News Montreal, the court considered all the facts and circumstances before awarding Forstinger $132, 236 in damages for her pain, suffering, and lost wages.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall accident caused by snow and ice, please call 617-787-3700 today to speak with an expert Massachusetts snow and ice injury attorney.