Articles Tagged with “snow and ice”

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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