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What is the Law with Regard to Slips and Falls on Snow and Ice?

In July, 2010, the highest court in Massachusetts, the Supreme Judicial Court, issued a ruling which entirely overhauled the existing governing liability for injuries caused by falls on snow and ice. Prior to this landmark decision, a property owner’s liability was determined through the distinction between “natural” and “unnatural” accumulations of ice and snow. This meant that if the snow and ice was a result of a heavy snow fall or an ice puddle, what was considered a “natural condition,” a property owner would be absolved of any and all liability for injuries sustained from a slip and fall due to these conditions. The only means of recovery for a victim, under prior Massachusetts law, was to prove that the hazardous snow and ice condition would not have existed but for the land owner’s actions, such as the plowing of a large snow bank, an “unnatural” condition. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has effectively abolished this distinction.

Present day snow and ice personal injury litigation demonstrates the intent of the courts to support victims of snow and ice injuries involving the negligence of property owners in failing to keep their premises free from hazardous conditions. Current snow and ice injury law covers all private property, including commercial property owners such as shopping mall operators and business owners.

The new laws mandate that injured parties will no longer be required to prove that the offending condition was an “unnatural” one in order to be compensated for their injuries. The recent changes to Massachusetts law thus eliminated the notion that liability should rest on the quality of the accumulation. The court extended the prevailing standard applied to other types of cases involving defective premises to now protect those injured by snow and ice.

If a property owner knows or should know of a dangerous condition on his or her property, such as hazardous snow or ice, he or she owes a duty to lawful visitors to make all reasonable efforts to protect those visitors from the dangers. The defendant must also evaluate the likelihood and extent of injury to others and the burden of reducing the risk. Massachusetts law has now substituted a standard of reasonableness as a basis of liability on the part of the defendant, and has released the plaintiff in snow and ice cases from proving that the snow or ice was “unnatural.” The injured party’s burden of proof now is to show that given the risk of injury to potential visitors, a property owner’s failure to remove snow and ice or fix a dangerous condition was “unreasonable.”

The expert team of Boston snow and ice accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Gilbert R. Hoy, Jr. and Affiliates is knowledgeable about the changes in the current law and is looking forward to representing you in your claim. If you or a loved one was injured by slipping and falling on an icy patch call our offices today at 617-787-3700 or contact us by email at to set up your free and confidential consultation.

Our Boston Snow and Ice Accident Lawyer Experts Are Here To Assist You 24 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week. You Can Reach Our Massachusetts Snow and Ice Slip and Fall Attorney Specialists Now at 617-787-3700.