Injuries on Snow or Ice: Who’s at Fault?
February 9th, 2015
As we navigate another cold and slippery winter in New England, it is important to understand the premises liability laws regarding snow, ice, and other natural hazards. While many assume that weather-related accidents and injuries are no one’s fault but Mother Nature’s, this simply isn’t the case in some circumstances.
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident on snow or ice, ask yourself the following questions:
- Was the area reasonably safe for visitors on the property?
- Who is responsible for keeping the area free of hazards?
- Was the property owner or responsible party aware of the dangerous conditions?
- Did the property owner or responsible party have adequate time to remove the hazard?
Rhode Island & Massachusetts Premises Liability Law Basics
In both Rhode Island and Massachusetts, property owners have a legal responsibility to keep public areas free of dangerous accumulations of snow and ice. Specifically, property owners must, under the law, remove or melt snow and ice within a reasonable time after it has fallen or formed.
Who could be at fault for your snow or ice slip and fall accident?
- A property owner.
- Your landlord.
- The city or county.
If You Were Injured on a Rental Property
Under the Residential Landlord and Tenant Act in Rhode Island, a landlord is legally obligated to keep common areas safe. This includes keeping walkways, staircases, and parking lots reasonably free of snow and ice. Massachusetts has similar laws that apply to all residential property owners, landlords or otherwise.
In addition, while you should be aware of what your lease and rental agreement outlines when it comes to property upkeep and snow and ice removal responsibilities, know that your landlord may still be liable for damages even if a tenant agreed to shoveling or clearing snow.
Slip and Fall Accidents on Public Sidewalks
The person or party responsible for trips, slips, and falls on icy or snow-covered sidewalks depends upon state and local law. When investigating your case, be sure to speak with a premises liability attorney who is familiar with local ordinances and similar past personal injury cases in the area. He or she can help you determine who may be at fault for your sidewalk fall.
However, you should note that someone, whether it is an adjacent property owner or the city, is responsible for cleaning the sidewalk and could be liable for your winter slip and fall injury.
Learn More About Your Case During a Free Consultation
As you can see, slip and fall accidents, premises liability laws, and personal injury claims can be complex, especially when they deal with snow and ice. The best way to learn more about the legal aspects of your specific case is to speak directly with an experienced slip and fall attorney.
At the Bottaro Law Firm, we offer the victims of slip and fall accidents and their families a no-obligation, no-cost consultation in which you are free to ask questions, tell your story, and seek legal advice. To learn more about your case, or to speak with a lawyer, call Mike Bottaro at (401) 383-5007 today or fill out a contact form and we will get in touch within 24 hours.