Massachusetts Legal Blog
Are Building Managers Liable for Wet and Unkept Lobbies?
Winter is steadily encroaching on Boston, and with it comes the looming dangers of thunderstorms and snowfall. While our weather can be unpredictable, pedestrians always have the threat of suffering serious falls due to icy walkways, wet floors, and snow-covered sidewalks. Many people may attribute these injuries to clumsiness or inattentiveness, but property owners still hold a significant amount of liability for winter slip-and-falls, especially in their own buildings.
How Dangerous Is Snowfall?
A slip-and-fall at any time of the year can be devastating, especially for older adults. When you slip on a wet floor or loose carpet, your body tends to fall backward. While some people can reach out and grab onto a handrail or furniture to prevent the fall, others end up landing on their backs and suffering serious trauma. This can result in everything from dislocated hips to spinal cord injuries to even brain damage.
But winter makes these accidents especially dangerous, as they come with the risk of multiple falls. For example, if you slip on an icy sidewalk, you may fall backward and suffer a minor injury. You may then try to get up and have difficulties regaining your balance. However, due to being disoriented and on the still-icy sidewalk, you may fall a second time, further increasing the severity of your injuries.
Snow Removal in Boston
Many people falsely assume that slip-and-fall victims have no legal option after an injury, but that simply is not the case. Slip-and-fall accidents, especially in winter, can sometimes be attributed to negligent property owners. Whether someone owns a store, an office building, or an apartment complex, they are required by Massachusetts state law to remove any snow that has piled up in the property’s parking lot or along a walkway leading to the building. Even sidewalks are the responsibility of the property owner in many neighborhoods.
In fact, the City of Boston outlines several key steps a property owner should take in winter to avoid serious accidents. Property owners are required to clear sidewalks and curb ramps outside a business within three hours after a snowfall or three hours after sunrise if it snowed overnight. In addition, to protect members of the disabled community, property owners must clear a 42-inch-wide patch along sidewalks, curb ramps, and walkways to make space for walkers and wheelchairs. Failure to do so can not only lead to serious fines, but can also make the property owner liable for any injuries to a visitor caused by snow or ice.
Liability Within a Lobbies
While winter weather certainly creates safety hazards outside of a building, it also has a say in the matter of entranceways. Entranceways are often the messiest areas of a building during winter, as guests and visitors can track snow, mud, water, and slush into a lobby. This can create large puddles that put other patrons in danger of slipping and falling.
In addition, lobbies are often heated in winter. This means both the area outside the front door and within the entranceway have higher temperatures, resulting in the nearby snow and ice melting faster. This further increases the likelihood of puddles in the area and the chances of someone falling.
Property owners, managers, and staff should take extra care during the wintertime to clean up entranceways and lobbies that become riddled with puddles, snow, and slush. Failing to do so can put visitors at risk of being injured, and ultimately, makes the property owner liable for any injuries a victim suffers.
If you or someone you loved suffered a winter slip-and-fall injury, then you may be able to pursue compensation from a negligent building owner. Compensation can include all of the financial costs of your injuries, including your medical bills and lost wages due to time away from work, as well as your pain and suffering.
In order to successfully receive compensation, you will want to work with the Boston premises liability attorneys at DiBella Law Offices, P.C. We have the experience, knowledge, and skill to advocate for your best interests in a premises liability claim, especially if you have been injured in a winter slip-and-fall. To get started on your claim, schedule a free consultation by calling (617) 870-0907.
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