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What happens when you slip and fall on an icy sidewalk?

Whether there is a lot of snow on the ground or just a little, one thing you can be certain of during winter is that another snowstorm is on the way. When the snow comes, that means treacherous walking conditions for pedestrians throughout Massachusetts.

If you slip, and suffer an injury, you may want to consider legal action.

When it comes to responsibility for an icy sidewalk or parking lot, state law is clear: If the property owner failed to take precautions to correct a problem that led to your accident, they can be held responsible.

Some examples

If the sidewalk in front of a store is owned by the city, then the city is responsible for snow and ice removal, not the business owner.

However, if the property is maintained in a way that causes an unnatural buildup of snow and ice (think icicles or a clogged drain) and you are injured because of that buildup, the building owner can be at fault.

If a parking lot has sloping areas that puddle, then refreeze, and you slip and fall on an icy puddle, the parking lot owner can be held responsible.

If the building or lot owner chooses to provide snow or ice removal but does so negligently, the owner can be held responsible.

Exclusivity, statute of limitations

Sometimes a judge will assign liability to a business owner for an icy sidewalk owned by the city if the sidewalk is used exclusively for the store’s customers, making the area essentially a private walkway.

The statute of limitations for slip and fall cases in Massachusetts is three years from the date of the incident. In case of death, the lime limit is three years from the date of death.

Massachusetts law allows any reward for slip and falls to be diminished by the amount you were responsible for the fall. If the store owner claims that you should have seen the ice or that danger cones were set up around the area, the owner can assert that a portion of the fall was your own fault. If that’s the case, then any damages you receive will be reduced by that portion.

The law accounts for the many situations that may arise from a slippery surface. If you have been injured, it’s a good idea to get advice from a qualified, experienced attorney.

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