In the interest of public safety, on July 26, 2010, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued a historic ruling, changing the law governing snow and ice cases. From July 26, 2010 onward, property owners have a duty of reasonable care that is owed to lawful visitors to remove snow and ice just like any other hazard.
The snow and ice removal efforts that are expected of a property owner will depend on the following:
1. The amount of foot traffic reasonably expected.
2. The magnitude of risk reasonably feared.
3. The burden and expense of snow and ice removal.
Therefore, the owner of a single family house is expected to remove snow and ice, but more effort is expected from the owner of the shopping mall with respect to the parking lot and sidewalks used to enter and exit the mall itself. Obviously, a mall parking lot will contain more ice and snow than the entrance to a single family house and there will be more foot traffic at a shopping mall. Reasonable efforts to make the property safe for visitors / customers would be greater for the mall owner than the owner of the single family house.
Under this approach, a jury, or a judge sitting without a jury will determine which snow and ice removal methods are reasonable in light of the expense they impose on the landowner and the probability and seriousness of the foreseeable harm to others.
The Law Offices of Bruce G. Goldman is experienced at representing visitors / customers who have been injured in a slip and fall accident.