A Landlord’s Liability for Slip-and-Fall Injuries
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
Experiencing a slip-and-fall due to landlord negligence is more than just a painful incident—it can lead to many legal questions and financial concerns. As a tenant or visitor injured on a rental property, knowing where to turn and how to proceed can affect the outcome of your compensation claim after a fall.
Landlords have a duty to maintain safety; when they neglect this duty, they can be held responsible. At Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., our skilled slip-and-fall lawyers can support you, helping you prove fault and getting you the payout you deserve.
Landlord Liability in Michigan
In Michigan, premises liability law governs who is responsible when someone is injured on someone else’s property. Landlords are legally obligated to keep their property reasonably safe for tenants and visitors. If there is a slip-and-fall due to landlord negligence, the property owner or manager can be held liable for the injuries and related damages.
In Michigan, a landlord’s duty of care primarily extends to invitees and lawful visitors. An invitee enters the property for a purpose connected to the landlord’s business, such as a tenant or a potential renter. Visitors allowed onto the property, like a tenant’s guest or a service person, are also owed a standard of care by the landlord.
However, this duty of care is generally not owed to trespassers unless the landlord intentionally harms the trespasser or it is a child who is hurt by a known hazardous condition like a swimming pool.
What Duties Do Landlords Have in Preventing Slip-and-Fall Injuries?
In Michigan, landlords have specific duties and responsibilities when it comes to the safety of their property. Here’s a breakdown:
- Duty to maintain common areas. Landlords maintain common areas like hallways, stairwells, and parking lots. Property owners and managers must regularly inspect common areas and make timely repairs to prevent injuries.
- Duty to warn of known hazards. If there’s a known hazard that can’t be immediately fixed, landlords have a duty to warn tenants and visitors. This could mean putting up warning signs or sending notifications through email, text, or printed letters.
- Duty to make timely repairs. Once a landlord is aware of a hazardous condition, they’re generally expected to fix it within a reasonable time frame. What’s considered reasonable can vary, but delaying repairs can increase the likelihood of liability.
- Reasonable care. Michigan law expects landlords to exercise reasonable care when maintaining their property. This means doing what a reasonable person would do to keep the property safe, like mopping up spills promptly or fixing broken steps.
When Might Your Landlord Be Liable for Your Injuries in a Slip-and-Fall?
The complexities of a slip-and-fall accident in a rental property can often raise questions about the landlord’s liability. Your landlord may be held accountable for your injuries in various scenarios, including:
- Common areas vs. rental units. If you slip and fall in a common area such as a hallway, lobby, or laundry room, your landlord is typically responsible for maintaining these spaces. However, inside your rental unit, the liability may differ unless the cause of the fall can be directly attributed to negligence on the landlord’s part, like failing to repair a known issue, such as a water leak or a broken railing.
- Open and obvious hazards. If a hazard is considered open and obvious – meaning it’s clearly visible and should be recognized by a reasonable person, like a large puddle of water in the middle of a brightly lit hallway – the landlord might argue they’re not liable because the tenant should have seen and avoided it. However, they might still be held accountable if the hazard was unavoidable or the landlord was aware and did nothing.
- Actual vs. constructive notice. Constructive notice means that the landlord should have known about the danger, even if they weren’t directly informed, because a reasonable person taking care of the property would have discovered and remedied it.
For instance, if there’s a recurring water leak in a hallway every time it rains, even if no tenant has reported it (actual notice), a diligent landlord performing regular maintenance or inspections should have detected and addressed the issue.
Steps to Take After a Slip-and-Fall Injury
Experiencing a slip-and-fall can leave you uncertain about the next steps, but how you respond immediately after the incident is crucial to receiving compensation. The following actions can help you prioritize your health and lay the groundwork for any potential legal claims:
- Seek medical attention. Always prioritize your well-being. Even if injuries seem minor, they may manifest or worsen over time. Immediately consult a medical professional. Preserve all related medical documents, including diagnosis, treatment recommendations, and bills. They will serve as crucial evidence should you pursue a claim.
- Document the conditions. Ensure you accurately capture the scene of the incident. Take multiple photographs from various angles of the hazardous conditions that led to your fall and any lack of signage or warnings. This will provide concrete evidence of the state of the premises at the time of the injury.
- Witness statements. If anyone sees your fall, ask for their contact information and a brief account of what they observed. Third-party accounts can bolster the credibility of your claim.
- Notify the landlord. Promptly report the incident to your landlord. Always do this in writing, describing the circumstances in detail, and keep a copy for your records. Timely notification is essential, as it can be harder to establish negligence if too much time elapses.
- Collecting evidence. Alongside photographs, gather any other evidence that could be relevant. This might include weather reports (for outdoor slips), maintenance requests you’ve made previously, or any communication regarding potential hazards.
- Consult an attorney. If you believe your landlord’s negligence contributed to your injury, seek legal advice. An attorney can provide insights into your rights and potential compensation and guide you through the legal processes, such as an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.
How to Prove Your Slip-and-Fall Was Due to Landlord Negligence
If you’re injured in a slip-and-fall incident on a rental property, you must prove the landlord’s negligence led to your damages to receive a settlement. Our attorneys at Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. are experienced at investigating slip-and-fall accidents on rental properties.
We will look for evidence to support your claim and establish the following elements to help you secure a favorable outcome:
- Duty of care. Our team will gather lease agreements, building codes, and other pertinent documents to demonstrate that your landlord has a clear responsibility to ensure the safety of the premises, be it in shared spaces or within your rental unit.
- Breach of duty. We will investigate and document instances where your landlord failed to uphold their duty. This might involve gathering maintenance records, tenant complaints, or photographic evidence to spotlight areas of neglect, such as a previously reported broken stair that remained unfixed.
- Causation. Through witness statements, expert testimonies, and other evidence, our attorneys will directly link your landlord’s negligence and your resulting injury. If, for instance, a neglected leaky roof led to a slippery floor on which you fell, we’d trace the sequence of events to make the case.
- Actual injury or damages. We’ll compile comprehensive medical records, photographs of injuries, therapy bills, and expert medical opinions to emphasize the extent and implications of your injuries. Partner attorney and registered nurse Eileen Kroll can use her medical background to assess the extent of your injuries to demand a fair settlement for current and future damages.
- Notice to the landlord. Using written communications, CCTV footage, or testimonies from other tenants, we’ll show that the landlord has been informed, or reasonably should have been aware, of the hazardous condition, demonstrating either actual or constructive notice.
Get the Compensation You Need After a Slip-and-Fall
For tenants or visitors who’ve been injured on a rental property, knowing your rights and the steps to take can help you seek fair compensation. The complexities of Michigan’s premises liability laws make it essential to consult legal professionals for advice tailored to your specific situation.
If you’re dealing with a slip-and-fall case, speak with our premises liability attorneys at Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. Our team of experienced lawyers can guide you through the claims process, protect your rights, and gather evidence to prove your slip-and-fall was due to landlord negligence. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at (1-866-779-7331) and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.