New Slip and Fall Injury Law

Just today, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, sitting in Boston, has handed down new law regarding slip and fall injuries involving snow and ice. It used to be that the duty of care owed by landowners to lawful visitors on their property did not include any obligation to remove snow and ice that had accumulated naturally. Now, however, that has changed. The attorneys at the Boston Law Office of Neil Burns know the importance of staying up-to-date and current regarding applicable laws affecting our clients.

Under the new case, there is no longer the “natural accumulation” rule. That rule, which essentially said, there to have a personal injury case in Massachusetts as a result of falling on snow or ice, there must be an “unnatural accumulation.” Unnatural accumulations were found in cases such as when water from a man made pipe drained into a driveway and froze.
However, in a case that was just handed down from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, there is a new standard. It is similar to the landlord standard for all property owners, both commercial and residential. The new standard is called the reasonable care standard. Thus, all property owners must use reasonable care, or acting like the reasonable person, in removing snow and ice from their property to prevent injury. It may be that this law will be applied retroactively because there would be relatively little hardship or inequity from a retroactive application.
The case is Papadopoulos v. Target Corporation, SJC-10529 (July 26, 2010).