Massachusetts Legal Standard for Slip and Falls on Snow Changes

The Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) of Massachusetts today changed the rules in slip and fall cases involving snow and ice.

The Massachusetts high court eliminated the distinction between natural and unnatural accumulations of snow and ice, replacing it with the standard rule of reasonable care for all property owners.

The change came in a case involving a Peabody resident who fell on ice in the parking lot of the Target department store at the Liberty Tree Mall in Danvers. The trial court determined the ice was a natural accumulation and found for Target and the landscaping company. The personal injury case was affirmed by the Appeals Court. The SJC took the matter on further appellate review and invited briefs on whether the time had come to reconsider the long-standing doctrine concerning unnatural versus natural accumulations of snow.

The court found for the plaintiff and eliminated the distinction in Papadopoulos v. Target Corporation, SJC-10529 (July 26, 2010). For additional analysis of the case, read our Lawyer Alert! The full text of the decision can be found by clicking here.

Breakstone, White & Gluck is a Boston personal injury law firm specializing in complex injury cases such as slip and falls, medical malpractice and premises liability. If you are a Massachusetts attorney, we invite you to read our legal analysis and provide us your feedback. If you are a member of the public seeking assistance with a personal injury case, we can be reached at (617) 723-7676.