Massachusetts law about snow and ice

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on snow and ice law.

Table of Contents

Massachusetts laws

MGL c. 40, § 21 (2), (3), and (4)
Towns may create bylaws relative to snow and ice on buildings and sidewalks

MGL c. 84, § 15
A county, city, town, or person obliged to repair may be liable for injury or damage from defects on ways

MGL c. 84, § 17
A county, city, or town is not liable for injury or damage from snow or ice on a public way if the place where the accident happened was otherwise reasonably safe and convenient for travelers

MGL c. 84, §§ 18-20
A person must notify the county, city, or town of injury or damage from snow or ice on a public way within 30 days

MGL c. 84, § 21
A person must notify the owner of private property of injury or damage from snow or ice on their premises within 30 days

MGL c. 85, § 5
Cities and towns may require removal of snow and ice from sidewalks : penalties

MGL c. 85, § 6
Towns may accept this section, remove snow and ice from its permanent sidewalks, and assess the whole or any part of the cost of removal to the abutters

MGL c. 85, § 7
Abutters may procure an exemption from an assessment by stipulating that they will remove snow and ice from the sidewalk, on which their estates abut, at such times and in such manner as the appropriate municipal officers shall direct

MGL c. 85, § 7A
Persons may not store chemicals used for the removal of snow or ice in such a manner or place as to subject a water supply or groundwater supply to the risk of contamination

MGL c. 85, § 7B
Depositing snow on state highways

Massachusetts regulations

105 CMR 410.452 Safe Condition: Responsibility for clearing walk and stairs (Landlord-Tenant)
310 CMR 22.21(2) Regulating the storage of chemicals used for the removal of snow or ice
780 CMR 1001.3.1 Maintenance of Exterior Stairs and Fire Escapes. All exterior stairways and fire escapes shall be kept free of snow and ice

Web sources

The Abolition of the Natural Accumulation Defense in Snow and Ice Cases: An overview of Papadopoulos v. Target Corp., 5 Boston Bar Journal 6, Winter, 2011

Clear snow from your car or get pulled over, state police warn drivers,, March 2018.
"In Massachusetts, police can use a couple of statutes to enforce snow-clearing. ...officers can issue a $40 fine for impeded operation if a driver has obstructed windows and a $200 fine for driving with an unsecured load, which can include heavy sheets of snow or ice on a car's roof."

Massachusetts Snow Resources, Portal.
Includes information on all aspects of winter snow, including pet safety, sidewalk snow removal regulations, transportation and safety information and much more.

State of Emergency Information, Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. The Governor's declaration of a State of Emergency does not automatically ban travel or close businesses. Many businesses have contractual agreements with their employees regarding who does/does not have to report to work when a State of Emergency is issued.

Print sources

The Law of Premises Liability:  tort liability of the owner or occupier of real property for harm inflicted upon persons while on the premises and for harm inflicted by persons who become intoxicated while on the premises, 4th ed., LexisNexis, loose-leaf.  Chapter 7:  The Slip-and-fall Case

Mass. Practice v.37A (Tort Law), 3rd ed., West, 2005 w/supplement. Chapter 21: Owners and Possessors of Land

Massachusetts Tort Law Manual, 3nd ed., MCLE, loose-leaf. Chapter 9:  Slip and Fall

Papadopoulos v. Target:  Finally Melting Away the Century-old Natural Accumulation Standard in Massachusetts. 18 Suffolk J. Trial & App. Advoc. 254 (2013)

Premises Liability, 3rd ed., West, 2002 with supplement. Volume 3, Chapter 52:  Ice and Snow

Premises Liability Law and Practice, Matthew Bender, loose-leaf. Volume 2, Chapter 8A:  Slip & Fall Injuries; Volume 5, Chapter 30, Part A:  Forms: Slip & Fall Cases

Slip and Fall Practice, 2nd ed., James Pub., loose-leaf. Chapter 22:  Falls on Ice and Snow

Slips, Trips, Missteps, and Their Consequences, 2nd ed., Lawyers & Judges Pub. Co., 2007



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Within Massachusetts only


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Last updated: November 30, 2018