Unfortunately, at Swartz & Swartz PC., we know that another hallmark of winter is slipping and falling on uncleared snow or ice.
By: James Swartz
Managing & Principal Attorney – Car Accidents, Catastrophic Injuries, Contract and Business Litigation, Inadequate Security & Premises Liability Litigation, Medical Malpractice, Product Liability & Wrongful Death
In Boston, we are not afraid of winter. While it may not be our favorite season, we handle the cold months of wind chills and blowing snow by getting outside and enjoying the outdoors or getting cozy indoors with friends and family.
Unfortunately, at Swartz & Swartz PC., we know that another hallmark of winter is slipping and falling on uncleared snow or ice. Injuries sustained from these types of falls can be extremely serious and painful. They can result in expensive medical and physiotherapy bills, lost paychecks, and negatively impact the quality of your life, and your family’s for months and years.
With the potential for serious and lasting impacts on your health and livelihood. It’s important that you know your rights and your legal options after sustaining and fall injury. Massachusetts law is clear that during the winter you h e right to expect to be able to safely walk around your neighborhood, park, playground, grocery store or mall.
Failure to maintain a safe walkway in any of these settings can be considered negligence under the law: “A county, city: town, or person obliged to repair may be liable for injury or damage from defects on walkways. If this is the case, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. While Massachusetts law allows towns to enact specific bylaws about snow and ice on buildings and sidewalks, our experience tells us that it is the property owner who is primarily responsible for maintaining a reasonably safe walking area by clearing away snow and ice.
The term “property owner,” can refer to a private business, municipality, tenant, or homeowner depending on the location of your fall. Even possible for a property maintenance manager or a snow and ice removal company to be liable if they failed to do their job and properly clear an area, like a parking lot or walkway, of snow and ice. Let’s use an example: say you slip and fall on uncleared snow and ice in a private walkway of an apartment building while walking in downtown Boston.
In this fictional case, it would most likely be the owner of an apartment building complex – either an individual person or private company – that would be liable for negligence. It’s worth noting, that it doesn’t matter how snow and ice became a hazard to walking safely – whether it accumulated naturally during a snowfall or haphazardly dumped by a snow plow – if you slip and fall because reasonable measure were not taken to clear it, the property owner may still be liable. Specifically, the case “Papadopoulos v. Target Corp., 457 Mass. 368 (2010) …. abolished the legal distinction between natural and unnatural accumulations of snow and ice.”
Failure to maintain a safe walkway in any of these settings can be considered negligence under the law.
What do if you have slipped and fallen on snow or ice
If you’ve fallen on snow or ice, your priority must be to get the medical attention you need, including calling 911 if you are seriously hurt. Next, if possible and safe, ask someone at that moment or soon thereafter while the conditions remain the same to grab your smart phone and take a picture of what caused you to slip and fall. These pictures may be helpful in your case to prove negligence
If it is reasonable and safe to do so, your next step should be to communicate with the owner of the property (that you slipped and fell. This step does two important things: it alerts the property owner that their walkway is unsafe and caused an accident, and signals to them that a claim or lawsuit may be filed.
If the property where you had your slip and fall accident is on city or state property, it is mandatory that you notify the local authorities of your claim within 30 days. It is important to know that there is legislation with specific notice requirements and even damage caps for such claims.
Swartz & Swartz can help
Your final step should be to give your attorneys at Swartz & Swartz a call. We will be able to work with you to determine the best way to move forward with a possible claim or lawsuit. While we wish you a safe and healthful winter, the Boston community should know that Swartz & Swartz attorneys are here to help them get the best result after a slip and fall accident. Please call us at (617) 742-1900 or contact us here.
James Swartz, our Managing and Principal Attorney at Swartz & Swartz P.C. is a nationally recognized and respected trial attorney as well as a consumer advocate. His practice focuses on cases involving negligence, torts, product liability, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and other claims involving catastrophic injuries.
If you or someone you know, needs help from a lawyer, contact the law offices of Swartz & Swartz, use our live chat, or send us a message using the form below and we’ll get in touch to assess your case and how we can help.