Some Michiganders look forward to the first snowfall, while others start yearning for spring before the Thanksgiving leftovers are gone. No matter which group you’re in, there’s no denying that ice and snow are an inevitable part of the season. And, while the hazards of winter driving are well-publicized, walking on icy and snow-covered surfaces can be just as perilous.
Here are the answers to these and other frequently asked questions about slip and fall accidents caused by ice and other winter hazards.Do You Have a Case?
Most slip and fall cases involve the legal concept of “premises liability.” This is based on the assumption that property/premises owners are expected to use reasonable care to keep their property/premises safe and hazard-free. This includes inspecting property/premises on a regular basis, especially in winter, and removing hazards such as snow and ice as soon as possible. If a landlord or property/premises owner fails to do this, and someone falls and sustains a serious injury, the owner could be found negligent.
Nonetheless, the burden is on the plaintiff to demonstrate the owner failed to use reasonable care to ensure the safety of the property/premises. This involves proving the property/premises owner knew, or should have reasonably known, the premises were unsafe and failed to take proper steps to remedy the situation.
Furthermore, Michigan slip and fall law includes the “open and obvious” doctrine. This is defined as a situation where someone of average intelligence saw or should have seen the hazardous condition upon casual inspection. If the hazard meets this standard, the victim is not likely to prevail in a slip and fall lawsuit.
However, there are exceptions where the law would consider a normally open and obvious risk unreasonably dangerous. This might include a situation where it is “effectively unavoidable” for someone to avoid the hazard. For example, if an icy sidewalk provides the only access to an office or business, a visitor would have no other option for entering the building.
Additionally, there are other situations where special aspects of the hazardous condition may override the “open and obvious” doctrine. This is why it’s important to consult an experienced slip and fall lawyer if you are injured on someone else’s property/premises.
Black ice is a thin highly transparent coating of ice that forms on surfaces after rain or snow. Although the ice is actually see-through, it is called black ice because only the dark pavement beneath it is visible.
Some courts have decided that the possibility of black ice should be a foreseeable hazard in Michigan. On the other hand, many plaintiffs have successfully won lawsuits after falling on black ice. Hiring a skilled Michigan slip and fall lawyer is the best way to protect your rights and ensure you receive the slip and fall settlement compensation you deserve.
Recommended Reading: Tips for Avoiding Accidents on Black Ice
The rules are different if you fall on public property such as a city sidewalk or the parking lot of a school or municipal building. In general, federal, state and local governments are immune from liability when someone is injured on their property.
Nevertheless, there are situations where a victim may seek compensation for a slip and fall accident on government property. These cases have different procedures and a much shorter statute of limitations than typical personal injury claims. Therefore, you should contact an attorney who specializes in slip and fall accidents as soon as possible.
It is possible that more than one party might be responsible if a customer or visitor slips and falls on an icy surface. For example, in a strip mall where several stores or businesses are located, the individual retailers may be responsible for salting or shoveling the areas in front of their own businesses. This would depend on the terms of the lease between the property/premises owner and the individual tenants.
Additionally, some property/premises owners hire companies to plow parking lots and remove ice and snow from surfaces where customers are likely to walk. However, in most cases, the property/premises owner or landlord still has a legal duty to make sure the maintenance is being performed as often as necessary to keep the property/premises safe.
Here are the steps you should take if you fall on someone else’s property/premises:
The Sam Bernstein Law Firm takes every slip and fall accident claim seriously. We treat our clients like family and we will fight for your right to the compensation you deserve.
Slip and fall law is complicated, but finding the right accident attorney is simple.
Get your case started today by clicking the button below to fill out a brief form or calling 1-800-CALL-SAM for a free, no-obligation remote consultation from the safety of your home.Do You Have a Case?
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