Darkness descends early and ice and snow are not uncommon during the winter months in Massachusetts, which means that both property owners and occupiers in the Bay State have to exercise caution. Serious and debilitating injury can result from a fall on ice. It is not uncommon for people to sustain head injury, back injury and fractures when they fall on ice. Property owners who fail to take reasonable steps to clear snow and ice put the walking pubic, and themselves at risk.
Ice and snow
Local authorities are tasked with removing snow from city streets, but property owners or occupiers are expected to keep parking lots clear and safe for visitors. Melting snow that drips from roofs and the refreezes can be particularly dangerous, and property owners or occupiers can be held responsible for a visitor’s injuries even if they hire a snow removal company. When a Bronx woman filed a premises liability lawsuit after slipping on a patch of ice in a parking lot in 2018, she sued both the property owner and a snow removal company. She won her case and was awarded $2.15 million in damages.
Slip-and-fall incidents are more likely to happen if visitors cannot clearly see where they are walking. Daylight fades much earlier in the winter months, which creates a dangerous condition. Property owners or occupiers can make things safer for their visitors by installing and maintaining adequate outdoor lighting systems, and this is especially prudent if the surfaces visitors must walk on are cracked, potholed or uneven. Other steps that can be taken to reduce the chances of slip-and-fall accidents and lawsuits include placing warning signs near dimly lit areas and conducting regular property inspections.
Hundreds of people are injured in slip-and-fall accidents every day, and many of them suffer serious injuries. Most of these incidents would be avoided if building owners or occupiers inspected their properties regularly and acted proactively to prevent dangerous situations from developing. If they hire third parties like snow removal companies to take care of these tasks, they should take steps to ensure that the work is done properly and dangerous conditions are addressed.