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Mass. Property Owners Liable for Slip-and-Falls On Unshoveled Walkways

With winter officially in full force, Massachusetts has already seen its fair share of snow. While it may be tempting to stay indoors by the fireplace and wait for warmer days to come — especially after a snowstorm — it is important that Massachusetts landowners ask themselves one critical question before doing so: did I remember to shovel?

Because of a major change in snow removal laws in 2010, Massachusetts property owners can now be held liable for snow or ice-related falls that happen on their land. In other words, Mass. residents and business owners need to pay close attention to accumulation of snow or ice on their walkways. If they fail to do so and somebody falls, they can face legal consequences.

The 2010 Supreme Judicial Court Ruling overturned a century-old snow removal law that did not hold property owners liable for injuries that occurred due to “natural accumulations” of snow. Property owners today do not have this luxury, and instead have a legal obligation to keep their walkways free from slippery ice and snow.

How much time property owners have to remove snow depends on where they are in the state. For example, Boston commercial (or business) property owners have three hours after snow stops falling to clear it, while private (or resident) property owners have six hours. About 40 miles west, in the city of Worcester, sidewalks must be cleared within 10 hours of the snowfall stopping.

Premises liability lawsuits can be filed against property owners who do not comply with snow removal laws. Multiple claims can be made in these lawsuits, including if a property owner fails to:

  • Hire a snow removal professional
  • Post warning signs about hazardous/slippery walking conditions
  • Monitor slippery conditions and address them in a timely manner
  • Comply with accepted snow industry practices
  • Clear paved areas, parking lots, and sidewalks

If someone fails to properly manage snowy or icy walkways, dangerous falls can result. For vulnerable populations, these falls can have fatal consequences.

If you or a loved one has experienced a slip-and-fall accident because of a property owner’s failure to comply with snow removal laws, consider reaching out to us today at 617-391-9001 to discuss your legal options.

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“Sober Up TN” Program Aims to Decrease Drunk Driving Fatalities in Tennessee

On Feb. 15, a Tennessee drunk driver losing control of his car resulted in tragedy. After running off the side of the road and striking a tree, a 2-year-old girl in the back seat was ejected from the car and killed. The driver of the vehicle, 26-year-old Joevon Deltroy Foust, had a history of public intoxication and had been arrested for driving drunk in the past.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Recently, preliminary statistics for 2018 traffic fatalities were released by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security and the Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP). These statistics indicate that there is still work to be done to reduce collision deaths in the state:

  • Traffic fatalities increased by 2.2%, going from 1,047 in 2017 to 1,024 in 2018.
  • DUI arrests decreased by 6.9%, going from 7,492 to 6,973.
  • Alcohol-impaired crashes decreased by 5.7%, going from 1,997 to 1,884.

While the decrease in alcohol-impaired crashes is promising, tragedies like the one described above reveal more efforts are needed to reduce drunk driving on Tennessee roads. To combat these fatalities, the THP created a “Sober Up TN” program, which allocates hours for increased law enforcement patrol on interstates, increases sobriety checkpoints and bar checks, and facilitates public education initiatives to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving.

For 2019, “Sober Up TN” received $630,000 in grant funding for the program, which will end on Sep. 30, 2019. As it is ongoing, officers hope to achieve multiple goals, including:

  • Reducing alcohol-related fatalities in Tennessee.
  • Enforcing DUI laws
  • Hosting community meetings to educate citizens on the issue
  • Adding more sobriety checkpoints

If you or a loved one have experienced pain and suffering caused by an impaired driver, consider speaking with an experienced lawyer at the law firm of Bailey and Greer – we are always available to help with more information or a free evaluation of your case. You can contact us via our website or call (901) 475-7434.

 

 

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