If you are injured on property that is owned and/or operated by someone else, you may have grounds for a premises liability lawsuit. While many of these cases involve slip and fall accidents, this legal concept also applies to other kinds of personal injury claims. However, simply being injured on someone else’s property does not automatically entitle you to compensation. Here is a guide to Michigan premises liability law and how they may affect your injury claim.
The term premises liability applies to personal injury cases where an individual is hurt because of an unsafe condition on someone else’s property. In Michigan, as in other states, property owners and/or operators have a legal duty to keep the premises they control safe and hazard-free.
Before a plaintiff can consider filing a premises liability lawsuit, the following conditions must be met:
In other words, the victim’s injuries must be a direct result of the defendant’s failure to maintain a safe environment. For example, if a broken handrail gives way and a tenant or visitor falls down the steps and breaks a leg, the victim may have grounds for a lawsuit.
In addition, the plaintiff has to suffer significant damages such as medical bills, lost wages and/or pain and suffering. Minor injuries such as soreness, bruises or scraped knees and elbows are not enough to justify a premises liability lawsuit.
To win a premises liability case, the plaintiff has to prove the owner or operator of the premises was negligent. In legal terms, negligence means that the premises owner failed to use “reasonable care” in keeping the premises free of hazards and dangerous conditions.
The owner or occupant could be found negligent under the following conditions:
However, simply meeting the above criteria is not enough to establish that the defendant was negligent. The plaintiff also has to prove the owner or operator was aware of the hazardous condition and had reasonable time to remedy the situation before the accident occurred. Without documentation, this can be hard to prove. Further, proving the defendant “should have known” about the hazard is even more difficult.
This is one of many reasons a plaintiff should retain the services of an experienced premises liability lawyer.
In general, the person (or company) that maintains control of the property is responsible for its condition. The responsible party could be the owner, but someone who is leasing space might also be liable in the event of an accident.
For example, in a shopping mall or office building where individual retailers or professionals rent space, the owner or landlord might be responsible for the parking lot and common areas inside the building while the tenants are responsible for their individual spaces. This is because the tenants control the conditions inside their stores or offices.
Recommended Reading: Who Is Responsible for a Slip and Fall Accident on Ice?
Yes, in some cases. Like property owners, visitors are also expected to use reasonable care. If they fail to do this, their claim may be affected by Michigan’s modified comparative negligence law. According to this statute, a victim’s settlement may be reduced according to their degree of fault.
In addition, the victim’s status, or reason for being on the property, is also taken into account. An owner or landlord has the greatest duty of care to “invitees.” This refers to people who are on the premises for the benefit of the owner, such as customers in a store or shopping mall.
The next level of responsibility involves “licensees.” This term applies to those who have express or implied permission to visit the premises such as guests in someone’s home or those attending a religious service.
The last category is people who are considered “trespassers,” individuals who do not have the owner’s consent to be on the premises. Under Michigan law, owners are seldom held responsible when a trespasser is injured on their property.
Here are some of the different types of personal injury cases that come under the category of premises liability:
These can be caused by icy or snow-covered surfaces, inadequate maintenance or other defects and hazardous conditions
If a dog is on its owner’s property when it bites someone, there may be a basis for a premises liability case, provided the victim had a right to be on the property and wasn’t provoking the dog..
In general, homeowners have the same legal duty as all property owners to keep their premises free of potentially dangerous conditions. However, if the home is rented, the landlord or property owner may be liable, depending on the situation. For example, if the lease states that the tenant is responsible for snow and ice removal, and a visitor falls on the icy porch and breaks an arm, the tenant could be responsible. Nonetheless, the victim would still have to prove negligence on the part of the tenant.
In a multi-unit rental property, such as an apartment complex, responsibility is usually determined as follows:
For example, the landlord or owner is responsible for a puddle on the floor of the laundry room that is shared by several tenants. But, if a tenant spills water inside the apartment and a visitor slips and falls, the tenant could be held responsible.
No discussion of premises liability cases is complete without an explanation of Michigan’s open and obvious law. Basically, a property owner can avoid liability when a hazardous condition is such that an average person would notice it and recognize the danger. The exceptions to this rule are conditions that are “unreasonably dangerous” or “effectively unavoidable.” While this rule is frequently used as a defense in slip and fall cases, it is possible to prevail in a lawsuit with the right attorney.
Recommended Reading: How the Open and Obvious Law Affects Your Case
If you were injured in a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property, contact us as soon as possible. The Sam Bernstein Law Firm legal team understands the complexities of slip and fall cases and we will fight to win the compensation you deserve.
Premises liability law is complicated, but finding the right slip and fall attorney is simple.
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