Although the winter months feature many things to look forward to, such as the holidays, it can be difficult to traverse the slick and icy road and sidewalk conditions. Every year, Flint, Michigan residents are injured from slipping and falling because of icy conditions.
You may have control over the slick conditions of your own property, but it’s difficult to anticipate ice in a public place, such as outside of a store. If you’re injured outside of a store, it may seem like no one is to blame other than the icy conditions, but there are situations in which a business could be liable for your slip and fall accident.
Premises Liability in Flint, Michigan
In Flint, Michigan, people are required to keep the conditions of their property safe. This includes businesses, homes, and any other place in which guests or patrons are present. If someone is injured on a property owned by another person, the property owner could be found negligent because of premises liability. The property owner could be held liable for damages including lost wages, rehabilitation, medical bills, pain and suffering, and more.
Being injured on another person’s property doesn’t guarantee that you’ll receive compensation. There are four factors you need to prove in order to recover damages from a property owner.
The first factor you need to prove is that the store owner owed you a legal duty. What this basically means is that you were on the property legally. A person is legally allowed to be inside and outside of a store, assuming they aren’t loitering, so if you trip outside of a store on their property, the property owner owed you a legal duty.
You also need to be able to prove that the store owner violated their legal duty to you. What this means is that you need to be able to prove that the property owner was reasonably aware of the potentially dangerous conditions and failed to fix them.
Next, you need to be able to prove that the store owner’s negligence is what caused your injury. Your injury needs to have primarily resulted from the slick conditions. You can’t just fall outside of a store and collect compensation. The fall needs to have directly resulted from the property owner’s violation of legal duties.
The final element is that you need to have been injured in the event. You can’t collect compensation if you weren’t injured.
What is the “Open and Obvious Doctrine” in Michigan?
Although premises liability makes it seem as if you can collect damages from property owners from slipping on ice, the open and obvious doctrine makes the issue more complicated. The open and obvious doctrine states that if a hazard was evident, the property owner is not responsible for a person’s safety if they’re injured. An open and obvious hazard means that “an average person with ordinary intelligence would have discovered it upon casual inspection.” To take an extreme example, let’s say there’s an abundantly obvious accumulation of ice in a parking lot. Under the open and obvious doctrine, a store owner would not be held liable for a person’s slip and fall injury because the victim should have avoided the hazard.
The interpretation of what counts as open and obvious differs, but often, courts determine that in freezing conditions, someone who slips and becomes injured should have been aware of the slick conditions and be able to avoid them. Black ice, which is often not visible to the naked eye, is sometimes defined as open and obvious, but it depends on individual cases and court rulings.
Although it’s challenging to receive compensation for slipping on snow or ice because of the open and obvious doctrine, there are cases involving special aspects that increase your likelihood of receiving compensation. If the hazard was either unreasonably dangerous or nearly impossible to avoid, the property owner could be found negligent for your slip and fall-on-ice injuries.
Contact Flint Slip and Fall Attorneys
The interpretation of slip and fall accidents can be difficult because of the open and obvious doctrine. If you were injured because you slipped outside of a store, you need legal experts at your side who can prove that the property owner was the cause of your injury. Here at Lee Steinberg Law Firm, we have years of experience assisting clients with premises liability cases, and we’ll work to prove that your slip and fall was either not open and obvious or that your injury involved special aspects. Contact our Flint office today at 810-275-1829 or click here for a free consultation.