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As winter storm eyes Massachusetts, think snow and ice removal

A snowstorm is projected to hit the Western and Central portions of Massachusetts tonight, causing homeowners to break out the shovels and snow blowers. According to the National Weather Service, Boston will mostly see rain as a result of the storm, but people west of Interstate 495 could see significant accumulation.

The weather service is estimating that Central Massachusetts will see between six and eight inches of snow, while western parts of the state could see even more than that. Highly elevated areas, like the Berkshires and Northern New Hampshire, could see up to a foot or more. However, by Thursday morning, most of the snow will turn to rain, the weather service is reporting.

Because this is one of the first big storms of the season, it's a good time for a refresher in snow and ice responsibilities. Under Massachusetts law, property owners have a duty to maintain safe premises. During the winter time this means removing dangerous snow and ice from sidewalks and driveways.

Up until 2010, Massachusetts followed the "natural accumulation rule" which held that property owners were not liable for injuries caused by snow and ice that accumulated naturally on the property. However, today Massachusetts property owners have a duty to remove dangerous snow and ice no matter how it accumulated.

If a property owner fails to remove dangerous snow or ice and it caused someone to be injured, the property owner could face liability in a personal injury lawsuit. When a property owner fails to exercise reasonable care and someone is injured, the injured person may be entitled to damages for medical expenses, lost wages and future monetary losses.

Source: The Boston Globe, "Snow is coming to Boston, but it won't be in the city for long, National Weather Service says," Melissa M. Werthmann, Dec. 26, 2012

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