The Lee Steinberg Law Firm and 1-800-LEE-FREE has been successfully handling Michigan slip and fall personal injury cases for over 40 years. We have a team of experienced Michigan slip and fall lawyers dedicated to helping injured individuals get the compensation they deserve.
Michigan premises liability cases usually involve negligence, where the injured person sues the property owner or property manager for creating or allowing an unreasonably dangerous condition that leads to an injury.
But as with any area of the law, there are various details to first understand to support your claim and to help make sure you receive fair compensation for someone else’s negligence.
Any injury following a slip and fall accident is an unfortunate event. You owe it to yourself, and to loved ones, to make sure that you recover compensation and are not burdened financially from the medical bills, lost wages and other damage that result from a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall injury. So if you have been hurt following a slip and fall in Michigan, our office wants to help you.
What is a Michigan Slip and Fall Case?
In general terms, a Michigan slip and fall accident refers to situations where a person is injured by slipping, tripping, or otherwise falling due to a dangerous condition on the premises. These incidents can happen inside or outside of a building and be caused by hazards like wet floors, crumbling stairs, faulty construction, and other general defects. A slip and fall case is also known as a premises liability case.
Michigan premises owners, including homeowners and building owners, have a duty to keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition and to protect against unreasonable harm caused by a dangerous condition on the land.
What Should I Do After a Slip and Fall Accident?
If you are injured after slipping or tripping and falling in Michigan, there are several steps to take if you believe that your fall was the result of someone’s negligence.
You should first seek medical attention for injuries. Prompt medical care is important to make sure your injuries are treated and do not get worse. Make sure you tell any medical professionals about the conditions that caused your fall, as this information might be included in your medical records and provide important evidence.
Even if your injuries appear minor, it is important to go to an area hospital or urgent care. A medical examination can uncover internal injuries that you might not be immediately aware of and can result in catastrophic injury if ignored and not treated.
It is important to record and retain as much information as possible as to what caused your fall. Take clear photos of the area and surroundings where your fall occurred. Further, note the conditions of the area in which your fall occurred. For example, if there was poor lighting, a spill, or another hazard that caused your fall, record those details. If you are too hurt, ask a witness or person accompanying you to take photos.
Take note of exactly what you were doing when a slip and fall occurred. Were you holding anything in your hands, or were you otherwise distracted in any way? Be truthful, as eyewitnesses and security footage could detail exactly what happened when you fell.
Such photographs and recorded evidence are important, as the accident scene and hazard that caused your fall might be quickly cleaned up or removed after your fall occurred. If this occurs, a property manager might later deny that a dangerous condition ever existed.
If there were any witnesses, ask for their contact information. If a case goes to court, eyewitnesses can provide crucial information for your case.
You should also notify a building owner or manager in charge of the premises that your fall occurred and explain that you were injured. However, do not provide a written statement to the building owner or manager. Also, refrain from talking to an insurance representative of the building owner or premises manager without first contacting a Michigan slip and fall attorney.
Contact a Michigan Slip and Fall Lawyer
Hiring a Michigan slip and fall lawyer as soon as possible after your fall occurs is a wise decision. An attorney can help gather even more evidence and can hire investigators to interview witnesses and find other evidence that can support your case.
Michigan slip and fall attorneys can also work to recover or preserve any video surveillance of the incident. Many businesses and other properties have video cameras on their premises. Recorded material can be deleted after a short period of time, so it is important to obtain a copy of the video before it is erased, as recordings can be the best evidence to prove liability during a slip and fall case.
It’s important to contact a Michigan attorney before giving any statements to any insurance company representatives or investigators working for the property owner. Speaking to an experienced trip and fall lawyer before signing any settlement papers or releases is also important. An attorney can review these forms first and explain the details to you.
What Defenses Do Premises Owners Have?
With respect to Michigan slip and fall incidents and Michigan trip and fall incidents, there are a number of defenses available to building and apartment owners. One of the most popular and dangerous defenses used by building owners is the open and obvious doctrine.
Frequent Types of Michigan Slip and Fall Accidents
There are many kinds of accidents and causes of accidents related to slip and fall cases. Even though we cannot list every type of slip and fall case, below are a number of common causes.
No one wants to be the victim in a slip and call case, and your safety and well-being should always be the top concern of a property owner or property manager. So, look out for these hazards described below. It is helpful to know some of the common causes behind and types of slip and fall cases.
- Defective steps and broken stairways inside buildings and on the exteriors of buildings and structures. This includes deteriorated or rotten wooden steps, crumbling cement steps, and broken stairs. Improperly maintained or installed stair structures can also violate building codes.
- Missing or broken handrails, both inside and outside of buildings. This includes missing bolts or screws which cause a handrail or bannister to be loose and dangerous.
- Falls on ice and snow, including black ice at businesses, residences, hospitals, hotels, schools, and apartment complexes in parking lots, and on sidewalks. Slippery floors indoors due to melted snow and ice can also cause accidents.
- Broken, uneven, or raised portions of sidewalks on public and private property.
- Water and other slippery substances, like grease, on floors and aisles in stores, restaurants, airports, hospitals, and other businesses.
- Uneven surfaces in parking lots and potholes, including broken pavement, cracked cement, raised parking blocks, and other hazards.
- Floors in buildings, malls, hotels, offices, and other places that are too slippery due to excessive wax build-up or poor maintenance.
- Elevator, escalator, and moving walkway accidents caused by mechanical defects and wet substances.
- Inadequate lighting and poor lighting making it difficult or impossible to see where you are walking or stepping, resulting in a dangerous condition
- Uncleared snow on walkways, sidewalks, and other areas where people walk through
- Floor mats that are improperly installed or placed or slippery
- Any unexpected and concealed drop-offs, holes, or other changes in floor or ground height that pose a hazard
Injuries in Slip and Fall Cases
It’s important to also understand the common types of injuries that can result from slip and fall cases in Michigan. Falls can cause serious injuries that can create permanent and severe damage. Quality of life and well-being can be affected by slip and fall accidents. The elderly are especially at risk for injury due to poor balance.
Common slip and fall injuries include:
- Broken bones and fractures in the wrist, arms, hand and elbow;
- Broken bones in the legs, ankles, or feet;
- Low back pain and lumbar disc herniation;
- Neck pain and cervical disc herniation;
- Torn ACLs, MCLs, meniscus and other ligament and tendon injury;
- Shoulder injuries and rotator cuff tears
- Head trauma including traumatic brain injury.
Slip and Fall Injury Statistics
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has monitored and kept statistics on falls that show how surprisingly injurious and devastating falls can be. Here are just some of the facts and statistics related to injuries and falls:
- Each year, over 3 million people in the U.S. are treated in emergency rooms for fall injuries.
- One out of every five falls results in a head injury or a broken bone.
- More than 95% of all hip fractures are caused by falls.
- More than 800,000 people are hospitalized every year in the U.S. because of injuries related to a fall.
- The total medical costs for fall-related treatments in the U.S. was more than $50 billion in 2015 alone.
- Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.
Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
A slip and fall injury in Michigan can happen at almost any type of location, but the most common places outside the home for a fall injury include:
- Stores, shopping plazas, and malls
- Hospitals, medical buildings, nursing and senior homes
- Homes and residences of family and friends
- Apartment complexes and condominium grounds
- Restaurants, cafeterias, and eateries
- Motels and hotels
- Movie theaters, concert venues, and stadiums
- Health clubs, recreational centers, and gyms
- Schools and colleges and their campuses, including gyms and auditoriums
- Airports, train stations, and bus stations
- Workplace settings such as factories, offices, and manufacturing facilities
Determining Fault for Slip and Fall Accidents
Under Michigan law, the owner of a property has a legal duty to make the premises reasonably safe for guests and business invitees. A business or property owner can be held liable for recoverable damages if someone is injured as the result of an unreasonably dangerous condition on the premises.
Slip and fall accidents can occur at someone’s home or property or at a place of business or other establishment. But no matter where the slip and fall incident occurred, you will need to establish a party’s negligence in order to bring a case for compensation, such as pain and suffering and the payment of medical bills. The owner of the property is typically the party accused of negligence in a Michigan slip and fall claim.
In Michigan, the slip and fall victim must prove several elements to win a slip and fall lawsuit. A case must prove that a defective or dangerous condition existed on the property or business location, and it must be proven that the condition caused both the fall and the injuries that the victim experienced.
In order to prove and support a successful slip and fall case, there are several components that a slip and fall victim in Michigan must show:
- The property contained an unreasonably dangerous condition.
- The property owner knew or should have known dangerous the condition existed before the fall occurred.
- The slip and fall victim must have lawfully been on the property as either a social guest or business invitee when the accident occurred.
- The property owner was negligent in inspecting and maintaining the property or failed to repair the dangerous condition that caused the fall.
- The person suffered an injury as a direct result of the property’s dangerous condition.
Defense Against Slip and Fall Accusations
A premises owner might try to bring up various defenses in order to blame you for your injury.
Comparative Fault Defense:
Michigan is a “comparative negligence” state, which means that your potential compensation can be reduced by the percentage by which you are deemed to be at fault for the accident that occurred. Under Michigan law, specifically, MCL 600.2959, if you are more than 50% at fault for causing the fall, you cannot obtain pain and suffering compensation and the amount of economic damages you receive is reduced by your percentage of fault.
For example, if a jury found a plaintiff 75% at fault for slipping on black ice in a driveway, then that plaintiff would be unable to collect any compensation for their pain and suffering or emotional distress, no matter the injuries.
Comparative negligence can come up in a number of ways. If a person is distracted while walking and slips on a puddle of water in a grocery store, that person can be deemed partially at fault for their own fall.
Another example involves a person ignoring a “wet floor” sign or some other type of warning that a dangerous condition may exist.
The Open And Obvious Defense:
The open and obvious defense is a lethal defense in many premises action cases, especially slip and fall and trip and fall cases in Michigan. The general rule is that a property owner is not liable for dangerous conditions that are “open and obvious”.
Under Michigan law, a premises owner owes a duty to an invitee to exercise reasonable care to protect the invitee from an unreasonable risk of harm caused by a dangerous condition on the land. But this duty does not extend to dangers that are open and obvious.
Whether a danger is open and obvious depends on whether it is reasonable to expect that an average person with ordinary intelligence would have discovered it upon casual inspection.
This defense is very broad and has been used by judges throughout the state to dismiss many slip and fall and premises liability cases. Although this defense was originally grounded in eliminating lawsuits for very basic hazards, it has been expanded immensely over the years.
The open and obvious doctrine is the primary legal defense that is used in courts today. The rationale is that a clearly visible condition was so bad that it is reasonable to expect that the victim should have avoided walking near or otherwise getting close to the hazard.
When applying the open and obvious doctrine to natural conditions involving the accumulation of ice and snow (Michigan winters can be dangerous for pedestrians, after all), Michigan courts continue to assert that it is reasonable to have a common knowledge of the types of weather-related hazards that occur during winter months. However, it should be noted that when the potentially hazardous conditions pertain to “clear” or “black” ice, whether such conditions will be considered open and obvious will often depend on the specific facts of the individual case.
Because of this, it is important to contact a knowledgeable and experienced Michigan premises liability or Michigan slip and fall lawyer so they can explain the law to you, answer your questions and investigate your case.
What Are the Elements of a Slip and Fall Case?
There are several important and distinct elements to a slip and fall case. Each element must be considered and demonstrated in order for a slip and fall case to advance and for compensation to be received.
For a Michigan slip and fall or trip and fall claim to succeed, it is necessary to demonstrate damages. The accident victim must have evidence of a real injury, and the injury is usually confirmed by a physician.
Causation or “Proximate Cause”
The victim of a slip and fall case in Michigan must also prove that a dangerous condition on the property directly caused the fall and the resulting injury. This legal requirement is known as “causation” or “proximate cause.” It can be difficult to prove how long a hazardous condition existed on a property in some cases, in which case, a slip and fall attorney in Michigan can provide valuable assistance.
For this reason, a Michigan slip and fall attorney and legal team often investigate the accident site and seeks to obtain witness testimony, medical records, and other valuable evidence that demonstrates a direct connection between the negligent action or omission and the victim’s accident.
An injured person must also prove negligence, or fault. In a premises liability case, the plaintiff must show the property owner owed a duty to the public and the owner or person in control of the property breached that duty by allowing an unreasonably dangerous condition to exist on the land. Without proving negligence, there is no case.
Proving negligence in a slip and fall case under Michigan law requires a certain amount of evidence. The law requires that the owner of the property where the fall occurred actually knew, or reasonably should have known, about the dangerous condition. Further, the property owner must have had the ability and opportunity to fix the problem or warn of its existence. Finally, the property owner negligently failed to do so.
This concept is known as “notice” or “constructive notice.” Even with notice, however, a property owner is not required to fix a hazard immediately. Instead, the law allows for a reasonable amount of time to correct a dangerous condition.
Even if a property owner had “notice” of a dangerous condition, the owner might try to use a legal defense called the “open and obvious doctrine” to escape responsibility. While these are all fundamental rules and laws concerning Michigan slip and fall cases, these standards are further complicated by legal distinctions based on the type of property where an injury occurred and the reason for the victim’s presence on the property.
Purpose on the Property
The reason for which an injured person was on the property where an injury occurred is an important factor in a premise liability case. The following are legal terms that are used to describe the purpose for a victim being at the place where the injury occurred.
An invitee is a person who is on a property for a commercial purpose. Under Michigan law, a premises owner or occupier owes invitees the highest level of protection. In this situation, the landowner has a duty of case not only to warn the invitee of any known dangers, but the additional obligation to also make the premises safe. This includes requiring the landowner to inspect the premises, and depending on the circumstances, make any necessary repairs or want of any discovered hazards.
A landlord must demonstrate the same high level of care to protect a tenant. In both cases, the owner not only must warn the “invitee” of dangers but must also regularly and actively inspect premises in order to identify defects or dangers and then take reasonably prompt steps to repair potentially hazardous conditions.
A property owner has fewer responsibilities when dealing with a “licensee,” who may be a social guest or someone else who is permitted on the property, but who was not invited for the property owner’s economic benefit. The owner has to only warn that visitor about dangers that the owner knew or should know about but which the guest is unlikely to be able to detect or avoid. A property owner owes no duty of inspection or affirmative care to make the premises safe for a licensee’s visit.
A common example of a licensee is a friend or family member who comes over to your home to visit.
A property owner has very limited duties of care toward a trespasser, who is a person who does not have permission to be on the property. However, the owner might have some obligations to a trespasser who is also a child, when the owner or possessor of land knows, or reasonably should know, of the child’s presence. Additionally, the owner cannot set a trap to try to cause injury to a trespasser.
The Lee Steinberg Law Firm Can Help
It is important to contact a lawyer and protect your legal rights if you are the victim of a slip and fall case in Michigan. Remember that time is running out, the statute of limitations states you only have three years from the date of the fall to file a slip and fall lawsuit in Michigan.
The Lee Steinberg Law Firm uses its wealth of experience working with and understanding the facets of Michigan slip and fall and Michigan trip and fall law to assist our clients. We have a team of experienced Michigan slip and fall attorneys dedicated to helping you get the compensation that you deserve.
Our Michigan premises liability lawyers fight for their clients and have been representing individuals injured by slip and fall accidents on Michigan properties for over 40 years.
Please call Lee Free and Michigan slip and fall lawyers at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We can answer any questions you may have about Michigan slip and fall law and Michigan premises accidents. We would be glad to hear about your case and provide more information on how we can fight for the fair compensation that you’re owed.
We are the Michigan slip and fall law experts. Let us help you today!