Icy Slip & Fall
Burlington Attorney for a Slip and Fall on Ice
Representing Icy Walkway Slip, Trip and Fall Injury Cases
As everyone who lives here knows, Massachusetts sees a lot of ice and snow during the winter months. And while this weather is perfect for those outdoor activities many of us love, it can also be very dangerous when a person slips and falls. Serious injuries can come as a result of those slip-and-falls on ice, and when they do, the injured person may wonder: Is someone else responsible for paying for this accident?
In many cases, there may indeed be another person or company responsible for paying compensation for your injuries. But getting it isn’t easy.
What Is a Property Owner’s Legal Duty in Winter?
All property owners must ensure that their property is safe for people visiting it. This includes homeowners, as well as owners of apartment complexes, retail stores, and other businesses. These responsibilities include clearing snow and ice from all sidewalks, parking lots, steps, or the grounds of an apartment complex.
When property owners are negligent in this duty, they may be held liable if someone slips and falls and hurts himself. Proper clearing of snow and ice can include any combination of shoveling, sanding, and salting.
The state of Massachusetts is very clear: If you’re a property owner, you are responsible for clearing snow and ice so those visiting your property, even mailmen, are kept safe from foreseeable hazards. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some caveats to the law.
In apartment complexes, office buildings, and other large properties that house a significant number of community areas, the snow would be the responsibility of everyone in the building. Who was responsible for which area would depend on the lease and local laws. But usually, the landlord or property manager will hire a snow removal company to clear the snow and ice for the tenants. If the manager doesn’t ensure that the company is qualified and knowledgeable about removing ice and snow, and someone is injured, the manager may still be held responsible for those injuries (along with the company). If the snow removal company was certified by the state, it may have a "government immunity" against personal injury lawsuits. It gets complicated; that’s why you need a Burlington premises liability lawyer to help with your claim.
Tenants’ Duties in Winter
Many places in Massachusetts are not occupied by property owners, but rather tenants, people renting the house or store from the landowner. Who is responsible for clearing ice and snow from these properties - the owner, or the tenant?
It’s not reasonable to expect property owners to visit their rental property every time it snows. For this reason, most landlords write into the lease that it’s the tenant’s responsibility to clear ice and snow from the property. If this condition isn’t in the lease, the landlord is responsible for maintaining the property in winter, and could be held liable if someone slips and falls from a dangerous condition, injuring himself.
What About Comparative Negligence?
A property owner accused of causing a slip-and-fall accident has many defenses - especially in winter. He or she might claim that the injured person was running, wasn’t wearing proper footwear, or was being careless. And there is a chance that the courts may agree with the property owner.
Massachusetts adheres to a legal practice known as comparative negligence, where a person can be held partially responsible for his own injuries. Massachusetts uses a "51%" standard: plaintiffs can only recover if their share of the blame for the accident was less than 51%. One percent more “at fault” and the plaintiff wouldn’t be able to recover damages at all.
Comparative negligence can also limit the amount of compensation awarded to the injured person. If the plaintiff is found by the jury to have contributed to his own accident, his verdict money will be lessened by his percentage of fault. If he was awarded $100,000, but was determined to be 25% at fault, he’d lose 25% of the award and end up with $75,000.
Why You Need a Burlington Slip-and-Fall Attorney
These claims are very difficult for an injured person to pursue, particularly while trying to recover from his or her injuries. At DiBella Law Offices, P.C., we have the experience you need to hold negligent property owners responsible for slip-and-fall injuries in winter weather.
If you have been injured in a slip-and-fall on ice and snow, call us today at (781) 262-3338. We will fight to hold responsible parties liable, and get you the full compensation you may deserve.