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Slip and Fall on a Public Sidewalk – Who’s to Blame in Fall River, Massachusetts?

On Behalf of | Jun 1, 2016 | Personal Injury, Slip & Fall Accidents

Every winter in Fall River, Massachusetts – and throughout the South Shore – you can be certain that pedestrians walk the streets with extra care, to avoid slipping and falling on ice.

But even with that extra care, slip and fall accidents still occur, and quite regularly. If you or someone you know has been injured from a slip and fall on a public sidewalk, who’s to blame for the injuries?

There are two potential responsible parties for whom you can file a claim against:

  1. The municipality (the city or town)
  2. The adjoining private property owner

Is Fall River, MA (or any municipality) responsible for your slip and fall injuries?

If you slip and fall on a public sidewalk, the municipality may be held responsible for and damages associated with the injury, including medical expenses. However, there are two factors you should consider before pursuing a claim against the city or town:

  1. You must show that the only reason you fell was the result of snow and ice on the public sidewalk. This burden of proof can be challenging.
  2. In the state of Massachusetts, there is a $5,000 cap on damages, meaning that even if you incur high medical bills, Fall River (and all other Massachusetts municipalities) only need to pay up to $5,000.

Understanding this, many people choose not to pursue a claim against the city, because of the additional legal costs associated with filing a claim.

If you slip and fall on a sidewalk, can you file a claim against a private property owner?

Unlike municipalities, private property owners in Massachusetts don’t benefit from a $5,000 cap in damages, which is why it’s worth investigating whether an adjoining private property owner may be at fault for ice buildup on a public sidewalk.

How could a private property owner possibly be responsible for the conditions of a public sidewalk?

Well, let’s say that a homeowner in The Flint has somehow directed water onto a public sidewalk, and that water freezes. Then, if someone were to slip on that ice, then a claim could potentially be made against the property owner.

We recently had a case similar to this. In our case, two different property owners had water – collecting from a drain – leading out to the public sidewalk. A letter carrier slipped on the ice – which was covered by a dusting of snow – and suffered a severe ankle injury. We brought claims to both property owners, because they were at fault for the hazardous condition on the public sidewalk.

Have you or someone you know suffered from a slip and fall in Fall River or the South Shore?

The Law Office of Sabra Law – located in Somerset, MA – helps clients throughout the region collect the compensation they deserve following an injury. Contact our offices today – by calling 508-286-7122 or visiting us at – to learn more about your rights following a slip and fall in Massachusetts.