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RI Business Premises Liability: No Liability for Slip and Fall until after the storm!

In the seminal 2009 Rhode Island Premises Liability case of BERARDIS v. LOUANGXAY, the Rhode Island (RI) Supreme Court defined the duty of care that Landlords and Businesses owe to the public during snowstorms in Rhode Island:

Rhode Island Slip and Fall lawyer

“It is undisputed that plaintiff fell during a storm. In cases in which we have said that a landlord or business invitor’s duty of care ordinarily is postponed until after the storm, the plaintiffs fell in a parking lot, Terry, 732 A.2d at 715, on a road, Benaski, 899 A.2d at 501, or on a passageway, Fuller, 108 R.I. at 771, 279 A.2d at 439, and not at an entranceway. The rationale behind our rule, however, does not depend on how the location of the snow and ice is characterized, but rather on the scope of the burden of the obligations imposed upon a landowner, the relationship between the parties, the public policy implications, and concerns about fairness. See Terry, 732 A.2d at 718-19 (citing Kenney Manufacturing Co. v. Starkweather & Shepley, Inc.,643 A.2d 203, 206 (R.I.1994)). Absent unusual circumstances, the law allows a landlord or business owner a reasonable time to remove a natural accumulation of ice or snow from the premises because it is unreasonable that he be “required to be at his property, shovel in hand, catching the flakes before they hit the ground.” Benaski, 899 A.2d at 503 (quoting Barenbaum v. Richardson, 114 R.I. 87, 93, 328 A.2d 731, 734 (1974)). “To require a landlord or other inviter to keep walks and steps clear of dangerous accumulations of ice, sleet or snow or to spread sand or ashes while a storm continues is inexpedient and impractical.” Kraus v. Newton,211 Conn. 191, 558 A.2d 240, 243 (1989).”

Rhode Island Premises Liability Attorneys

Legal Notice per Rules of Professional Responsibility: The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers and attorneys in the general practice of law, but does not license or certify any lawyer / attorney as an expert or specialist in any field of practice. While this firm maintains joint responsibility, most cases of this type are referred to other attorneys for principle responsibility.

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