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Michigan Slip & Fall Overview

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Elements of a Michigan Premises Liability Claim

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Other Premises Liability Cases

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Why You Need a Lawyer

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Our Slip & Fall Qualifications

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Free Consultation -- Do I have a case?

 

 


Michigan Slip & Fall Overview

Slip and Fall

Itís a term that is most respond with a funny story; however, ďSlip and FallĒ is a serious legal matter. Slip and fall results from an injury suffered due to hazardous conditions on someone elseís property.

When someone is injured due to a slip and fall as a result of the use of anotherís property and its condition, they may have a right to make a claim for their damages against the owner of the property. Many homeowners and business owners fail to secure a sufficient level of liability insurance to cover the amount of any damages from the accident on their property.

Although falls are most common in people over age 65, anyone can have a slip and fall accident. In fact, statistics from the National Safety Counsel show falls as the leading cause of non fatal injuries treated in the emergency room, with nearly 8 million people treated for fall-related injuries in 2001. In 2002, 14,500 people died from falls from one level to another or on the same level. Studies show 60 percent of all falls are related to a slipping or tripping incident, with such likely causes as a foreign object on the walking surface, a design flaw in the walking surface, a slippery surface caused by weather or a spill, or a persons impaired physical or mental condition. If the latter is the case or if the injured party in the slip and fall incident should have been aware of the dangerous surface and avoided it, the fault lies solely on victim. In other cases, however, liability can be questioned.

Because deciding oneís responsibility is often a subjective task, slip and fall lawsuits are tricky to handle and decided by common sense. Additionally, because there are frequently several people involved in representing a property-such as the property owner, tenant or business, landlord or manager- the responsible party is not always obvious. An attorney from TALAB NUNLEY, P.C., familiar with slip and fall cases, can help you determine who is at fault for you incident. Insurance companies more often than not attempt to characterize your injuries from a slip and fall in a dismissive manner.

In Michigan, premises liability claims are made for injuries sustained as the result of someone elseís negligence. Hidden hazards on property or extremely dangerous conditions that property owners negligently fail to remedy cause injury to thousands of innocent people every year.
Valid Premises Liability claims have traditionally been made for dangerous and hazardous conditions that include:

  • Standing puddles of water
  • Uncleared snow
  • Black ice (clear ice not noticeable on payment)
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Defective flooring
  • Stairways and steps
  • Hidden drop offs
  • Concealed holes

This area of personal injury law in Michigan has undergone more change than the any other area of Premises Liability law. Unfortunately, the Michigan Supreme Court decisions in Michigan have placed restrictions on the ability of an injured party to bring a claim. Therefore, you should immediately consult with an attorney at TALAB NUNLEY, P.C., who has experience in this constantly changing area of law. Our office is proud to always offer a free consultation to anyone who has suffered injury as the result of someoneís negligence.


Elements of a Michigan Premises Liability Claim

Injury
In order to prevail in a claim based on a slip & fall, it is necessary to demonstrate damages; i.e. the person who fell was injured. There is no minimum injury required in premises liability matters.
Causation or Proximate Cause

The injured party must prove that the dangerous condition on the property directly caused the fall and resulting injury. This element is known as "causation" or "proximate cause". For example, if someone may have failed to remove ice from their parking lot, but if the ice was not the cause of the fall, it is hard to demonstrate how the property owner did anything wrong. Likewise, if one is injured, it is important to be able to demonstrate that the injury came from the specific incident.

Negligence

Notice
In Michigan, proving negligence on the part of the property owner has become exceedingly difficult. Proving negligence in the context of a Premises Liability claim involves:

  • Demonstrating that the property owner had or reasonably should have had knowledge of the dangerous conditions, and,
  • The property owner had the ability and opportunity to correct the problem or warn of its existence, and,
  • The Property owner negligently failed to do so.

This concept is known as "notice" or "constructive notice." Furthermore, the property owner does not have to immediately fix a hazard. He or she has a reasonable amount of time to rectify a dangerous condition.

Rules concerning dangerous conditions are further complicated based upon distinctions made regarding the type of property where the fall occurred, and the reason for the accident victimís presence on the property (i.e. licensee, invitee, or trespasser).

The Michigan Open and Obvious Doctrine
Even when the "notice" element of a claim is established, the property owner is not always responsible for a victim's damages. Michigan property owners can assert a defense called "the open and obvious doctrine".

While originally construed as a means to prevent recovery from a clearly obvious and avoidable hazard, this doctrine has been widened greatly by the Michigan Supreme Court in recent decisions.

Purpose on the Property

The purpose of the injured personís presence on the property is important.

Invitee
Generally, an "invitee" is an individual who visits a store with the intention of purchasing products available to the public. A business customer, called a business invitee, is owed a high duty of care. The owner of land must actively inspect the land for defects in a reasonable and periodic fashion in order to recognize the likelihood of the risk of harm. The business owner must take reasonably prompt steps to repair the defects and must warn of the existence of those defects.

Licensee
A lesser duty is owed to a "licensee". Generally, a licensee is someone who has limited authority or permission to enter onto the property such as a social guest, utility meter reader, mail delivery person, newspaper delivery person, fireman or policeman. The owner or possessor of land must inspect the land in a reasonable and periodic manner to detect obvious defects, and to repair them in a reasonably prompt manner and provide reasonable warnings of such defects until they are repaired.

Trespasser
A property owner owes limited duties of care to a trespasser. However, there are some obligations if the trespasser is a child, and the owner or possessor of land knows or reasonably should have known of the child's presence. Additionally, the owner or possessor of land cannot set a trap for a trespasser.

Regardless of what category you believe applicable to your situation, you should consult with our office to make a proper determination.


Other Premises Liability Cases

Besides traditional slip & fall, there exist other types of premises liability claims. Some of the more common claims include those brought by individuals who are the victims of a criminal assault. These claims sound against a business owner for failure to provide adequate security when it should have reasonably been known that patrons to a particular property were at risk of falling victim to crime.

Another area of premises liability law includes claims by workers or residents who are exposed to hazardous conditions in a building over a long period of time.

There are other claims that have been made due to defective or hazardous conditions on property. For example: injury from improperly maintained escalators, elevators, or moving walkways.


Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How much are my injuries worth?

Answer: The facts of the accident and the extent of the injury determine the value of a claim. Every case is different, and it is important to consult with our office concerning the value given the particular circumstances in your case.


Question: I fell at a business and an employee wants me to fill out an incident report. What should I do?


Answer:
You should document a slip & fall incident with the appropriate personnel of the store. However, in answering the questions provide an answer based on your knowledge and not the wording of the question. If you fill out an incident report, ask to obtain a copy of the report on the spot. Keep your answers on the report truthful and focused. Never sign or fill out anything that you do not understand.


Question: Does the purpose of my visit on the property at the time of the incident affect my rights in a claim for damages?

Answer: Yes. The law defines different groups of individuals who are on property and assigns different obligations to each group. People on property are referred to as being invitees, licensees, or trespassers. Determining which category describes your status on the property often determines your right to recovery, and your status will depend upon specific facts unique to each claim.


Question: How long do I have to pursue a claim for injuries sustained in a slip & fall?

Answer: Generally, there is a 3 year statute of limitations. This means that you have 3 years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. One exception applies to minors (children under the age of 18) who have until one year after their 18th birthday to either resolve the claim or file a lawsuit. There are some very technical exceptions to these rules and an attorney should be consulted if there are any questions.


Question: Should I take photographs of my injuries and/or the accident scene?

Answer: It is a good idea to document the scene and your injuries as early as possible to preserve evidence. However, do not place yourself in danger, and do not take photographs of an accident scene, if you feel this will in any way cause you physical danger.


Question: Will there be insurance to cover my injuries?

Answer: That depends on the property owner and if a policy is in place, if it covers your incident. Often property owners are covered from loss with a homeowner or commercial insurance policy.


Question: Is it important to take action quickly if I am injured in a slip & fall?

Answer: Yes. This way you assist yourself and our office if preserving the evidence to properly pursue your claim.


Question: Are the rules different if Iím suing the city for a defective sidewalk?

Answer: Yes. Different rules apply when attempting to sue the government. Often, suits against government agencies have significantly shorter statutes of limitation and sometimes the government is immune, each require quick action if a claim is to be successfully filed.


Question: What if Iím partially to blame for what happened?

Answer: Under Michigan law, a standard of ďcomparative negligenceĒ is used. If a judge or jury determines that you are more than 50% responsible for your own injury, then you are not entitled to any recovery, regardless of the extent of the injury.


Question: What kinds of damages can I claim in a slip & fall matter?

Answer: All reasonable damages that directly flow from the negligence of the responsible party. Medical and hospital expenses, medications, nursing care, wage loss and pain and suffering are normally sought by an injured party.


Why You Need a Lawyer

Professional Evaluation of Your Claim
The constantly changing state of Premises Liability law makes handling a slip & fall claim a complex process.

It may take an attorney considerable time and resources to completely gather all of the documentation, make a determination, and file the appropriate claim on your behalf. It is not an undertaking to be recommended to one who is not well versed in the complex laws that govern such actions.

A study had indicated that injured parties represented by legal counsel obtain far greater recoveries than those individuals who attempt to represent their own interests. Once our office has gathered the necessary data, and determined the extent of the injury, you will know both the best way to proceed and the range of value the claim possesses.

Put a Fighter In Your Corner
Making a legal claim is a substantial endeavor. It is always the case that insurance companies will vigorously fight against paying damages to an injured victim. Our office will represent your interest in these proceedings and counsel you as you undergo a long and sometimes draining process. We will do everything possible to ensure your familyís emotional well being during the pursuit of a claim. Remember that our office will commit itís resources to your claim and we never charge an attorney fee if we are not successful in obtaining a recovery on your behalf.


Our Slip & Fall Qualifications

Many people throughout Michigan are familiar with the kindness and professionalism generated personally by our firm.

Most of our current clients were referred to our office by satisfied clients who we assisted in the past. Other attorneys have referred friends and family members to our office, confident that their claim would be handled by an extraordinary team of professionals. If our office makes a claim on an injured individualís behalf, the insurance companies know that they are faced with a matter to be taken seriously.

However, the most important component of our firm is our commitment to our clients. Your claim is important to us. Obtaining the largest settlement possible on your behalf is our goal. We understand the serious nature of the injuries sustained by our clients, and are 100% committed to helping our clients through the difficult times that they face. Every client is important to our office, and with every case we want to fight to achieve the best possible result.


Free Consultation -- Do I have a case?

Any information that you provide is confidential. Our office will only use this information to determine the viability of a claim on your behalf.

There is no charge or obligation, and any consultation is free. A member of our legal group will review this information and respond immediately.

You can always contact us directly at 1-248-366-5000. Our phones answer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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