Slip and Fall Accidents in Public Places

Yellow sign on floor that alerts for wet floor.

Slip and fall accidents happen every day. Anyone can be a victim, no matter whether they are young or old, healthy or infirm. A slip and fall accident can cause serious injuries ranging from bruises and broken bones to head trauma and brain injuries.

If you were hurt in a slip and fall accident, the property owner may be liable if they failed to take appropriate precautions to maintain their premises in a safe condition and to warn visitors of dangers on the property. The lawyers at Michigan Injury Attorneys will fight to hold them accountable for the harm they caused.

What Is a Slip and Fall Accident?

A slip and fall accident occurs when someone slips, falls, and is injured.

Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere, including public places like stores and restaurants, on sidewalks, in schools, at a public pool or amusement park, in sports and entertainment venues, or in a parking lot.

Two of the most common causes of slip and fall accidents are wet floors and hazardous weather conditions.

  • Wet Floors. Wet, slippery floors increase the likelihood of a slip and fall accident. Water tracked in from a snowstorm or rainstorm, liquid spilled in a grocery store, or store employees who use soap and water to clean up a spill can all create hazardous conditions that can cause an accident.
  • Hazardous Weather Conditions. Snow, sleet, ice, and rain can create hazardous conditions that increase the likelihood of a slip and fall accident.

Who Is Liable for a Slip and Fall at a Public Place?

After a slip and fall accident at a public place, it can be difficult to determine exactly what happened and who is responsible. In many cases, the property owner can be held liable. However, proving that the property owner was at fault is not always easy.

Slip and fall injuries are a type of premises liability claim. To establish liability, the injured victim must prove:

  • Duty. Property owners have a duty to keep public places safe. They must conduct regular inspections of the property, warn visitors of potential hazards, perform routine maintenance, and, when necessary, make repairs. The specific duty of care owed to a guest is determined by premises liability law and varies depending on why the guest was on the property.
  • Breach. The property owner failed to meet its duty to maintain the premises in a safe condition. For example, a property owner can be held liable if they knew about a hazardous condition, like spilled milk in a grocery store, but failed to warn guests of the hazard or failed to clean it up in a reasonable amount of time.
  • Causation. The property owner’s failure to meet its duty directly caused your injuries. For example, you must show that you slipped and were injured because a restaurant owner created a hazardous condition by negligently removing snow from the sidewalk.
  • Damages. An amount of money that will fairly compensate you for your injuries, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering you suffered because of the accident.

Recent Charges to Michigan’s “Open and Obvious” Doctrine

For decades, Michigan property owners were able to avoid liability in slip and fall cases by claiming a danger was “open and obvious.” According to Michigan law, a hazard was considered “open and obvious” if “an average person of ordinary intelligence would have been able to discover the danger and risk upon casual inspection.”

Courts established two notable exceptions to the open and obvious doctrine that allowed injured victims to recover compensation in certain circumstances.

  • Unreasonably dangerous. Even if a hazard was open and obvious, an injured victim could still recover compensation if the condition had a “uniquely high likelihood of harm or severity of harm if the risk is not avoided.” To explain the concept, the court used the example of a 30-foot pit in the middle of a parking lot. Even though the hazard would be easily noticed, a property owner could not avoid liability because falling into the hole could cause life-threatening injuries or death.
  • Effectively unavoidable. A property owner could not escape liability if the hazard could not reasonably be avoided, such as if a building only had one entrance and exit and that exit was covered with ice and snow.

In a joint ruling in the cases of Kandil-Elsayed v. F & E Oil and Pinsky v Kroger, the Michigan Supreme Court overturned its previous decisions on the open and obvious doctrine and found that a property owner can be liable if they failed to maintain the premises in a safe condition. Under this new standard, once an injured victim proves a property is liable for causing their injuries, the verdict may be reduced by any percentage of fault attributed to the victim.

What To Do After a Slip and Fall Injury

When a slip and fall accident in a public place results in injuries, it can be difficult to know what to do next. Do your best to note the date and time of your slip and fall accident. Try to write down the exact location where the accident occurred, and take photographs if you can.

Try to identify anyone who might have witnessed the accident and ask if they are willing to share their name and contact information and give details about the accident.

Before you leave, make an accident report and request a copy. Then, seek medical attention as quickly as possible and contact a lawyer.

Michigan Injury Attorneys Fights for People Hurt in a Slip and Fall

If you were hurt in a slip and fall accident on public property, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The slip and fall injury lawyers at Michigan Injury Attorneys will evaluate your situation, explain your options, and fight for the compensation you deserve.

We have years of experience handling claims for slip and fall injuries, and we know what it takes to get results.

To learn more, contact us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case and how we can help.

Categories: Slip and Fall