Attorney Marc Breakstone Reaches $825,000 Settlement for Client Who Slipped on Icy Ramp

Boston personal injury attorney Marc L. Breakstone

Attorney Marc L. Breakstone recently negotiated a settlement for a woman who was seriously injured when she slipped on an icy ramp. The ramp was on a commercial property.

Read about Attorney Breakstone’s work.


Massachusetts Law: Property Owners Have Responsibility to Keep Their Property Reasonably Safe from Snow and Ice Hazards

dw-200-webMany of us would rather skip the shovels, snowblowers and ice scrapers this winter. But when the snow falls, remember that Massachusetts property owners have a responsibility to keep their property reasonably safe. So your shovel must come out.

For over 100 years, Massachusetts property owners enjoyed a special exemption from liability for “natural accumulations” of snow and ice. An injured person previously had to demonstrate that the accumulation was unnatural, such as the frozen discharge from a gutter, or a pile of plowed snow across a sidewalk. But for the past six years, Massachusetts has followed the rule of reasonable care.

All residential and commercial property owners now have to take reasonable steps to clear the snow and ice hazards and keep their property safe for traveling.

Massachusetts started following the rule of reasonable care after the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled in the case of Papadopoulos v. Target Corp., 457 Mass. 368 (2010).

Attorney David W. White has written on the rule, discussed the case in the media and participated in MCLE panels on property owners’ liability in snow and ice cases.

“Property owners must understand it is no longer optional to shovel so you should get out there early and keep up with it,” White said.

Read Attorney White’s comments in The Boston Globe, Boston Business Journal and the Allston-Brighton Tab newspaper.

About Attorney David W. White
Attorney David W. White has distinguished himself for his advocacy on behalf of his clients and his leadership among Massachusetts lawyers. Attorney White is a past president of the Massachusetts Bar Association who has represented clients injured in personal injury cases for over 30 years. He has been selected as one of the Top 100 Super Lawyers in New England and Top 100 Super Lawyers in Massachusetts. Read more about Attorney David W. White.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck
The Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck have over 100 years combined experience representing individuals who have been seriously injured in slip and fall accidents and snow and ice accidents caused by a property owner’s negligence. If you have been injured, it is important to learn your rights. For a free legal consultation, contact us at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

Property Owners Are Responsible for Clearing Snow and Ice

Snow at doorwayWith snow in the forecast, now is the time to dig out your shovel. Clearing snow from your property has always been the right thing to do, but it is now also a requirement under Massachusetts law.

With the case of Papadopoulos v. Target Corporation, in July 2010 the Supreme Judicial Court abolished the long-standing legal distinction between natural and unnatural accumulations of snow and ice. Property owners are now required to clear both types of snow fall and may be held liable if there is a snow and ice injury on their property.

Here are a few tips from our Boston personal injury lawyers:

Remember to salt. Salt your driveway early in the storm and regularly.

Know how to use your snow blower. Turn it on before the snow fall and read the instructions. In between storms, keep it covered or in a garage.

Remember everyone who travels. You are responsible for clearing driveways, paths and all areas which can be reasonably accessed by invited guests as well as passersby and mail carriers.

Watch for tree branches. If tree branches fall on your property during the snow, consider making cuts before the next storm so no one is hurt.

Hire a snow plow. During heavy snow storms, consider hiring a snow plow.

Clear areas for emergency professionals. Help dig out fire hydrants and storm drains in your neighborhood.

Call about downed wires immediately. If you come across a downed power line, call your police department and ask them to call the utility company. Never attempt to clear the snow around it.

Stay off the streets. In the early hours of a snow storm, pedestrians can interfere with municipal plows.
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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.

Massachusetts Appeals Court Clarifies Law on Responsibility of Landowner to Remove Snow and Ice

New Trial Ordered for Tenant Who Suffered Broken Hip

Have you been injured when you slipped and fell on ice? This case may be important to you.

The Massachusetts Appeals Court has granted a new trial to a plaintiff injured after falling on ice after the Superior Court justice misapplied the legal rule governing open and obvious dangers in a premises liability. The Court limited the application of the open and obvious rule in snow and ice cases.

At the trial, the judge allowed instructions on the defense of an “open and obvious” danger, and failed to instruct the jury on comparative negligence. The verdict was for the landowner which had failed to treat a large area of frozen slush with deep footprints in it.

The case made it clear: The open and obvious defense does not apply to snow and ice cases. Snow and ice do present obvious dangers to pedestrians, but often there is no safer route for a pedestrian to take. The proper questions for a jury is whether the landowner was reasonable in his or her effort to reduce the danger from an unnatural accumulation of snow or ice, and whether the plaintiff was comparatively negligent.

The case is good news for pedestrians, whose rights to recover for injuries in snow and ice cases are made stronger by the case.

For a more complete discussion of this case, please read the article on our website, Massachusetts Appeals Court Clarifies Law on Responsibility of Landowner to Remove Snow and Ice.

The case was Soederberg v. Concord Greene Condominium Association, Appeals CourtNo. 09-P-380, February 25, 2010.

If you have been injured after slipping and falling on ice: Please contact our office if you need legal representation for personal injuries caused by slipping and falling on ice. We have over 80 years of experience on these types of cases.