This winter has been brutal in Boston – precipitation has fallen, temperatures have dropped well below freezing, and snow and ice have accumulated (despite the fact that Boston-area snow totals have been historically low so far this winter).

While winter weather brings with it a number of discomforts, one of the biggest risks associated with snow and ice is that of a slip and fall accident. If you have suffered a slip and fall accident on an icy sidewalk in Boston this year, who’s to blame?

Boston Property Owners Are Required to Remove Snow

Boston property owners are legally responsible for clearing ice, snow, and sleet from the sidewalks surrounding their properties, as well as abutting curb ramps. According to the City of Boston, sidewalks and curb ramps must be cleared within three hours of the end of snowfall, or within three hours of sunrise when snow and ice accumulate overnight.

Not only are property owners legally required to remove snow and ice–and may face a fine for their failure to do so–but property owners are also required to maintain their properties in a “reasonably safe” condition at all times of the year.

This means that if snow and ice exist on a property, the property owner isn’t just in violation of a statute; they are also acting in a manner that is negligent. If a person slips, falls, and suffers an injury as a result of uncleared snow or ice on a sidewalk, the property owner can be held liable as such.

Comparative Negligence and Slip and Falls

Massachusetts recognizes the theory of comparative negligence, which holds that a plaintiff can only hold a defendant liable for the percentage of damages that corresponds with the defendant’s degree of liability. If a slip-and-fall victim attempts to bring a case against a property owner following an icy sidewalk-related accident, the property owner will no doubt try to argue that the plaintiff should be held partially liable for the accident, too. The strength of a plaintiff’s claim may be diminished if:

  • They were walking while distracted at the time of the slip and fall;
  • They were wearing footwear that was inappropriate for the weather;
  • They were engaging in a behavior that a reasonable person would have assumed could lead to a slip and fall, such as running or jumping;
  • They were intoxicated; or
  • They were otherwise negligent.

Further, keep in mind that the duty to maintain premises in a safe condition is only owed to those who are on a property legally; property owners do not owe this duty to trespassers.

Meet with Our Boston Personal Injury Lawyer

If you have suffered a slip and fall as a result of an icy sidewalk in Boston, you may have a premises liability claims for damages against the property owner. To learn more about bringing forth a personal injury claim and how we can help, reach out to our Boston personal injury lawyers at Lovenberg & Associates, P.C. today online or by phone. Consultations are offered free of charge.