The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled this week that property owners may be held responsible for snow-related injuries to others, regardless if the snow came from a plow, Mother Nature or another source.
The ruling essentially threw out rules that have guided slip-and-fall lawsuits linked to winter for more than a century. The ruling also dissolved the distinction between “natural” and “unnatural” accumulations of snow and ice. Prior to the ruling, falls that occurred from natural accumulations were a safe haven for property owners who may have faced lawsuits from a slip and fall injury.
“We now abolish the distinction between natural and unnatural accumulations of snow and ice, and apply to all hazards arising from snow and ice the same obligation of reasonable care that a property owner owes to lawful visitors regarding all other hazards,” the court said.
In the simplest of terms, everyone will now have to clear their property of snow and ice or risk being sued.
The ruling stems from Papadopoulos v. Target Corporation.