Beginning in July 2010 Massachusetts residents and business owners’ took on new responsibilities in the winter months. With the court’s new decision in the case of Papadopoulos vs. Target Corporation, wherein a shopper fell in the store’s parking lot, property owners must now take reasonable care to remove all snow accumulation from their property and keep accessible, safe areas for travel.
Previously, property owners enjoyed a special exemption from liability for ‘natural accumulations’ of snow and ice. An injured person would therefore have to prove that the accumulation was ‘unnatural’ such as a snow pile caused by a snow plow.
Under this law residents have six hours after snow fall to remove all hazards, while business owners have only three. IN the city of Boston, you are responsible for removing snow from the entire width of the sidewalk, or a minimum of 42 inches. Every Massachusetts property owner is required to comply with the state’s order regardless of the individual town or city’s policy.
The important word in the new piece of legislation is the word ‘reasonable’. A property owner must take reasonable care to remove snow. This word can mean very different things to different people. It specifically could mean many things to different members of a liability case. Be sure to take all the precautions necessary to clear your property of ice and snow, you might also be protecting your financial assets.
Here is the MassDot suggested plan for snow removal which takes into consideration mailbox placement and snow removed from roadways by snow plows.