As everyone who lives here in Massachusetts knows, we are entering that time of year where walking in parking lots and other outside areas can be treacherous. Pursuing claims resulting from slips and falls in those areas was historically just as treacherous; in fact, with few exceptions, if a natural condition caused the snow and ice to accumulate, recovery for damages caused by that slip and fall was almost impossible to achieve.
The law in Massachusetts has recently changed, however, and now every owner or caretaker of private land, including, for example, parking lots, is now held to a standard of that of a reasonable owner or caretaker. In other words, whether the “defective” condition was caused by a natural or unnatural accumulation of snow and ice is no longer relevant; what is relevant is the conduct and reasonableness of the persons maintaining the area.
Accordingly, in evaluating whether a claim arising out of such an incident has any merit, it is important to understand that the claimant’s burden of proof has changed.
It is just as important to obtain the legal advice of an experienced attorney in evaluating whether this is a claim worth pursuing and/or whether the property owner or caretaker have legitimate defenses.