Owners or possessors of land, premises or a place of business are responsible under the law for maintaining the premises in a reasonably safe condition. Some examples of unsafe conditions are:
- wet floors
- slippery substances
- smashed or spilled food items
- melting ice, slush or snow
- failure to put out mats or signs to warn
- black ice
- broken or loose steps or stairs
- broken flooring
- ripped carpeting
- defective shelving or display
- defective doors
- defective railings
- broken cement or asphalt
The owner or possessor has a duty to exercise ordinary care to protect people from unreasonable risks of injury. If a person falls, slips or trips upon a condition which is considered to be unreasonably dangerous, that person is entitled to recover compensation for bodily injures as well as other damages sustained, including economic losses and damages.
Slip and falls can lead to very serious injuries ranging from fractures, neck and back injuries to traumatic brain injuries. Under some circumstances, a slip and fall may be considered the fault of the property owner. However, there is sometimes a fine distinction as to when a property owner is at fault rather than the individual. When defect or condition on the property is visible, Michigan courts have ruled these defects "open and obvious" in some circumstances. This could mean that if you could have or should have seen the ice, it is potentially your fault and not the fault of the property owner. Attorneys who do not have a great deal of experience in slip and fall matters will tell you that you do not have a claim in these circumstances due to the Open and Obvious Doctrine. The Michigan Supreme Court and the Michigan Court of Appeals have ruled, in short, that if you could have or should have seen what caused you to slip and fall due to it being open and obvious, it is your fault for falling, and not the fault of the property owner. If you were injured in a slip and fall, contact us to protect your rights.
Broken City Sidewalks
In cases where you have slipped and fallen due to a broken city sidewalk, Michigan law treats these cases differently. Michigan statute, MCL 691.1401, specifically addresses these types of defects, and outlines when an individual can make a claim against a governmental entity.
Under normal circumstances, a governmental entity has immunity, and you cannot make a claim against them. However, under some limited circumstances, you can make a claim against a city or governmental entity. MCL 691.1402(a) states that a defect that is less than two inches on a sidewalk, trail way, crosswalk or other installation outside of the improved portion of a highway designed for vehicle travel raises a rebuttal inference that the municipal corporation maintained the area in reasonable repair for the highway exception immunity.
If you have slip, trip or fall on city or governmental property you must act quickly. You only have a very limited time to give proper written notice to the governmental agency, or you will be barred from making a claim against them forever. Once notice is given, typically you have two year statute to file a lawsuit against the governmental entity for the injury, or you lose your right to do so forever.