Winter Weather “Slip and Fall” Accidents

“Slip and Fall” Accidents

Now that the winter, ice, and snow are officially here in New England, it’s more important than ever to know how to react if you should find yourself in a slippery situation. Here is some background information on “Slip and Fall” accidents caused by snow, rain, or ice.
This type of personal injury case occurs when an individual slips or falls and is injured on another individual’s property. The individual who owns the property on which this injury occurs may be held legally responsible for any injuries suffered. These types of accidents can range from wet floors, loose ceilings, cracked sidewalks, etc. and it can also include accidents that occur due to snow, ice, or rain.

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Proving Fault

Until a couple of years ago, in order to maintain an action for a slip and fall injury claim due to snow or ice, you had to prove that the snow or ice was an “unnatural accumulation” of snow and and ice.  This was a very difficult burden of proof.  The theory was that people in New England live with snow and ice throughout each winter and should know to take it slow and be careful when walking on snow or ice, unless it is an unnatural accumulation of snow or ice.  The problem was that if a homeowner did nothing to remove snow or ice and it was a natural accumulation, then he/she could not be held liable. The law has since changed in Massachusetts. Now it is a standard negligence burden of proof.

The question usually asked is whether the landowner negligently maintained his/her property to allow the accumulation of snow and ice and was this a dangerous condition on their property. It forces people to maintain their property in reasonably safe condition free from dangerous defects, including snow and ice. It forces property owners to take preventative measures to avoid accidents or injuries on their premises. Cases are analyzed based on if the property owner took sufficient preventative measures to prevent harmful situations and if the injured party was careful to avoid the harmful situation.

If you suffer injuries after slipping on ice or snow, you must prove to the property owner’s insurance company that their insured was negligent. [1]  You will need to show evidence to support your claim including pictures or video, witness statements, medical records, etc. If you have suffered injury due to slipping on falling on ice, rain, or snow, do not hesitate to contact a personal injury lawyer to learn your rights. The Law Offices of Robert D. Ahearn has handled hundreds of slip and fall cases over the last 25 years.  Each case is different, and it may be difficult to determine if the property owner was negligent.

That being said, please be safe this winter and use precaution in extreme weather conditions.

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