Wintertime in Michigan brings a lot of snow and ice. And while this weather can be a lot of fun, it can also be very dangerous. In fact, according to the Michigan Realtors Association, more than 2,000 work reported slip and fall accidents injuries due to snow, ice and black ice.
Snow and ice cases can cause horrible injuries. These injuries can include a broken leg, broken arm, fractured elbow or broken hip, facial injuries, neck pain, back pain and even a closed head injury. When this occurs, the victim suffers the pain and suffering and loses their ability to lead their normal life. Lost wages and medical bills can create a very difficult financial hardship. Sometimes, the injuries can be permanent.
What is the Slip and Fall Law for Snow and Ice Cases in Michigan?
Michigan law has recently changed when it comes to slip and fall cases involving ice and snow. It used to be very difficult to bring a slip and fall case against a property owner or landlord for failing to adequately remove snow and ice from a parking lot, walkway, aisleway or floor.
But last year the Michigan Supreme in Kandil-Elsayed v F & E Oil, Inc, __ Mich ___; ___ NW2d ___ (2023) and Pinsky v Kroger Co of Mich., ___ Mich ___; ___NW2d ___ (Docket Nos. 162907 and 163430), held that the fact snow and ice is open and obvious is but one thing to consider when figuring out negligence.
Under the old law, when a dangerous condition was open and obvious, the property owner owed no duty of care to the injured person. Because there was no duty, the injured person could not hold the property liable for negligence.
Because snow and ice are almost always open and obvious – or there to be seen – lawsuits for failing to properly remove snow or ice would almost always get dismissed except in certain situations. But the Supreme Court recently changed that rule. Now the “open and obvious” nature of snow or ice goes to the potential comparative negligence of the injured person.
The property owner still owes a duty to the guest on his or her property. This means they can be held accountable for not making it reasonably safe by plowing, shoveling, or salting the premises they control.
Now that a person can more readily bring a negligence case against a landowner who acted unreasonably and allowed a dangerous condition to exist, what do you do if you are injured in a slip and fall accident due to snow and ice.
So that is the update of Michigan slip and fall law. But what should you do if you are injured due to a fall on snow or ice? What should you do? The actions you take after the incident are very important. The following are important steps to take after a slip and fall accident.
1. Get Medical Treatment
No matter what, you should always get medical attention after a slip and fall. Sometimes even minor injuries can become very severe, especially if there is internal bleeding. What may feel like a bruise could be a damaged tendon or even a fractured bone.
Going to a local hospital or urgent care is extremely important. Contacting 911 or calling an ambulance is never a bad idea. The most important thing is to make a sure a minor problem does not become a major medical issue.
2. Take Photos or Video of the Scene
Sometimes this is hard due to the pain you are feeling after a fall on ice or snow. But if you can, take out your cell phone and take photos of the dangerous area that caused your fall. If you want to, get a short video of the area. This will help substantiate the bad weather conditions later when the insurance company for the property owner starts investigating your case. It also provides proof the property owner failed to salt the area or adequately shovel or plow the snow away, leading to the dangerous condition.
3. Get Witness Information
Again, this may not be possible due to the pain you are in, but if you can, get the names and telephone numbers of any witnesses. Their testimony later on is very important to help establish liability or negligence on the part of the property owner or landlord.
4. Report the Slip and Fall
Try and report the fall as soon as possible to the store manager, employee or anybody as soon as you can. That way, the defendant cannot deny later on the fall never occurred. Try to get an incident report completed if possible. Make sure the information taken down in the incident report is accurate. And always get a copy of the incident report for your records.
If possible, do not leave the scene without the incident report.
If you are not able to report the slip and fall right after it happens, go back to the location as soon as you can afterwards to report what occurred. First, the property owner should know that it is allowing a dangerous condition to exist on its property. Second, it helps establish a timeline and provides proof that the incident occurred on their property.
5. Be Careful About Talking to an Insurance Representative
If the slip and fall is reported, then usually a representative for the property owner will try and contact you very quickly. This representative typically works for the insurance company for the property, or is a third-party hired by the insurance company to investigate the slip and fall.
Be careful when you talk to these individuals. First, do not allow them to take a recorded statement. Second, do not let them lead the conversation and make it seems like the fall was your fault if it was not your fault.
Last, insurance companies are aggressive in defendant snow and ice cases. They will never just “accept responsibility” and instead look for ways to deny your claim or pay a “nuisance” amount. Don’t let them do that.
6. Call an Experienced Michigan Snow and Ice Lawyer
The Michigan slip and fall lawyers at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm are experts in handling snow and ice slip and fall cases. We have helped our clients obtain tens of millions in compensation for over 40 years. We know how to fight the insurance companies and their cruel defenses.
We have the experience, knowledge, and resources to take your case to trial should the insurance company deny your claim.
Contact us at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733). The consultation is free and we never charge our clients anything until we win their case.