As Winter creeps in on us, so does a very dangerous (and sometimes invisible) adversary…ice! Slip and fall injuries are one of the most common personal injury lawsuits.
These accidents are often considered relatively straightforward in terms of liability: the finger can usually be pointed at the owner or possessor of the building or land. Victims who have slipped, tripped and fallen as the result of the property owner’s negligence to heed certain precautions that would have prevented such an accident from occurring, may be entitled to financial compensation for their injuries. Here are some common scenerios.
Ice or Snow Outside a Building
Generally, the Massachusetts law doesn’t require a property owner or property possessor to remove ice or snow that accumulates outside his or her building as the result of inclement weather. However, if conditions on the property cause an unnatural accumulation of ice or snow, the property owner may be liable for slip and fall accidents.
Inadequate Outdoor Lighting
Failing to adequately light an outdoor area may also lead to slip and fall accidents, especially slip and falls in parking lots, trips over curbing, falls on a step or stairs from a parking lot to a store, and trips and falls due to holes, cracks, and uneven surfaces. When these types of situations occur, the property owner may be found liable if he or she knew or should have known of the poor lighting and failed to fix the problem.
Parking lot and parking garage owners are responsible for maintaining the property so that it is reasonably safe for people to access it. This includes filling and patching cracks and holes and ensuring that differences in height from one section of the lot to another are gradual rather than abrupt.
Generally speaking, a property owner is not liable for injuries sustained as the result of a slip and fall on a public sidewalk located outside his or her property (property that is owned and maintained by a city or town). In some cases however, an owner may be responsible if a victim sustained an injury on a private sidewalk used only by customers coming to and from the business.