slip and fall
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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
- 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
Elements of a Michigan Premises Liability Claim
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
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
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
- The property owner had the ability and
opportunity to correct the problem or warn of its existence,
- The Property owner negligently failed to
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
The Michigan Open and Obvious
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
Purpose on the Property
The purpose of the injured personís presence on the property
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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