Brain Injuries from Snow and Ice

Winter time can be a dangerous time, not only for older people, but for anyone living in Boston, the New England area or anywhere snow, freezing rain, ice and especially black ice are present.  Owners of stores, apartment buildings and homes are obligated to maintain and clear walkways, parking lots, driveways ensure safe travel for pedestrians, visitors and guests.  The obligation extends not only to snow and ice, but to maintaining drain pipes, drains and water runoffs areas which can, if not properly functioning, leave water and moisture which can freeze.

A slip and fall on snow and ice can lead to a brain injury if the slip and fall causes the person's head to strike a hard object such as, pavement, steps, curbs with sufficient force which causes the brain to smash against the interior surface of the rough edged skull. The brain can be jostled within the skull back and forth resulting in what is referred to as a contrecoup injury; and a diffuse axonal injury, where multiple areas of brain axons are torn or shorn.

Unfortunately, when you slip on snow and ice, the slippery surface causes you to accelerate up and out, sending you crashing to the ground with sufficient force to cause serious brain injury.  When filing a claim for a snow and ice case, you should be aware that Massachusetts and other states have specific laws, notice requirements and, perhaps, limitations in such cases.  For example, Massachusetts has a statute indicating that the owner should be given a 30 day notice of the incident, meaning the owner of the premises where the incident occurred should be sent a letter notifying him or her about the fall.  Some claims may be denied if the notice is not given and the defendant can show prejudice to defending the claim.

Early investigation can lead to properly identifying the person or organization responsible for snow removal and ice treatment.  It could be a private management company, a condominium association, private owner and/or a city, town or county.  Whether the responsible party is a private person or entity, or is a government agency, may determine limits on the claim as well as require additional notices to be sent.

Equally important is obtaining photographs of the area where the slip and fall occurred, the conditions and nearby water drains, roof ovehangs, sidewalk and step slopes, which are important elements of snow and ice cases especially in states like Massachusetts where the law denies claims involving only natural accumulation of snow and ice.  Where a natural accumulation of snow and ice claim may be denied, one involving poor or inadequate draining or unnatural accumulation of snow and ice will not be.  It is important to have your situation evaluated by knowledgeable counsel as soon as possible.

Our office has brought cases against business owners, home owners where the snow and ice was not a natural accumulation but was from negligently designed drainage systems, poorly maintained sidewalks or driveways.

We invite you read more about brain injury litigation here on our website. For further information, you may contact our office online or call us at 617-426-2558.