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Winter Weather Tests Massachusetts Slip and Fall Ruling by SJC

With weather conditions sure to deposit more snow in the region, property owners will have to work extra hard to make sure that Massachusetts slip and fall accidents do not happen on their premises. While preventing this type of premises liability accident is a challenge every winter, the Supreme Judicial Court recent ruling that overturned Massachusetts’ legal standard for snow and ice cleanup on private property may make it easier for an injured party to hold a negligent owner liable.

Under the previous standard, a Massachusetts slip and fall accident victim claiming injury had to prove that the landowner was negligent and that man-made or “unnatural” causes caused the snow hazard. Now, the injured person only must prove that the landowner was negligent or neglected to use reasonable care to remove the hazardous snow or ice conditions. It doesn’t matter whether nature or a human caused the slip hazard. Public sidewalks and streets, however, are exempt from the ruling.

The SJC ruling involves a Danvers, Massachusetts slip and fall accident. In 2002, plaintiff Emanuel Papadopoulos fell and fractured his pelvis at the Liberty Tree Mall parking lot in front of a Target Corp. store. In addition to revising the “reasonable care” standard, the SJC overturned earlier rulings that favored Target and the snow removal company and returned the case to a lower court for consideration under the now new standard. The Danvers premises liability lawsuit has yet to be resolved.

As our Boston personal injury law firm has said in the past, slip and fall accidents can result in extremely painful injuries. Broken bones, hip injuries, shoulder injuries, back pain, neck injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and death can be among the more serious outcomes.

Storm’s aftermath tests court ruling, Cape Cod Times, December 22, 2010
SJC upends 100 years of slip-and-slide law, Boston Business Journal, July 26, 2010

Related Web Resources:
Slip and Fall Accidents, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Slip and Fall, Nolo
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