Since 2010, property owners in MA can be legally responsible for damages and injuries caused by a failure to remove snow and ice. The 2010 ruling replaced 125 years of legal precedent. Previously, owners were not liable for removing “natural accumulation” of snow and ice. But today’s landlords are legally obligated to treat snow and ice as a dangerous condition. Failing to do so could result in a personal injury lawsuit.
So, How Often Does a Landlord Have to Shovel Snow or Remove Ice?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this. In Boston, businesses have three hours and private residences have six hours to remove snow and ice. In Worcester, however, property owners have 12 hours. To be safe, snow and ice should be removed early and often. While it is not necessary to shovel every hour during an ongoing blizzard, doing so every few hours is a good idea. Once the snowfall has stopped, it is important for the property owner to ensure that snow is removed as quickly as possible.
When shoveling snow from a public sidewalk in front of your property or rental property, do not just dump it onto the public road. You must store the snow in a safe place on private property. Failing to do so could result in a fine. If your landlord has specified that you must deal with snow removal in your lease agreement, you may be responsible for paying any resulting fines.
If your landlord lives out of town, he or she should hire someone to deal with snow and ice removal. A landlord who maintains the property himself or herself should consider investing in a plow, several shovels, buckets of sand at each entrance (throwing down sand or ice melt can also help prevent walkways and driveways from becoming slick), and an adequate insurance policy. A MA personal injury attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.
What if My Lease States that the Tenant is Responsible for Removing Snow and Ice?
If your rental property has an independent entrance / exit and is not shared with other occupants, your landlord may require that you handle snow and ice removal on your own. However, the landlord could still be liable for injuries and damages due to improper snow or ice removal. If the property is a multi-unit building, it is best for the landlord to hire a service, or remove the snow and ice on his or her own.
In either situation, it is ultimately the property owner’s responsibility to ensure that the property is safe. If someone is injured, standard homeowners and commercial liability insurance policies in MA generally provide liability coverage. Property owners should purchase at least $500,000 to one million in coverage.
Check Your Lease
If you are renting, check your lease before the snow flies. If the lease doesn’t clearly state who is responsible for snow and ice removal, contact your landlord right away. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’v been injured in a snow or ice-related slip and fall accident.
Altman & Altman, LLP – Personal Injury Law Firm Serving Boston and the Surrounding Areas
If you have been injured due to another’s negligence, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have been protecting the rights of accident and injury victims for more than 50 years. Our experienced, knowledgeable attorneys have an impressive track record of obtaining compensation for our clients. We will analyze the details of your unique case and remain by your side throughout the entire process. If you’ve been injured, you may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses, and lost wages. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.