Slip and Fall Injury Lawyer in Michigan
Slips and falls are among the most common causes of injury in the United States. According to the National Safety Council, falls account for 20% of all preventable injury deaths and 33% of non-fatal injuries nationwide. Many falls occur when a negligent property owner fails to prevent or warn of a dangerous condition on their premises.
- Slip and Fall Injury Lawyer in Michigan
- Premises Liability Law in Michigan
- Who Does Premises Liability Law Affect?
- What Qualifies as a Slip and Fall Accident?
- What Are Common Slip and Fall Injuries?
- What is the Michigan Statute of Limitations for Slip and Fall Claims?
- How Do I Build a Slip and Fall Case?
- Contact Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. Today
Many dangerous environments can cause slip and fall accidents. Common examples in Michigan include wet floors, inadequate lighting, uneven floors, or uncleared ice in parking lots. If negligent business owners fail to uphold the legal duty of care to maintain their property in a safe condition, they may be held liable for your resulting medical bills and other damages.
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, don’t wait to seek justice, as you may have a limited amount of time to pursue compensation or file a slip and fall lawsuit. The experienced slip and fall accident lawyers at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., have the resources, knowledge, and connections to help you. They can review your situation, determine whether you have a case, and explain your legal options.
Premises Liability Law in Michigan
Michigan’s premises liability law protects property visitors against unreasonable risks while on another person’s property. A building owner must take reasonable care to maintain a safe environment on their premises.
Common steps include regular inspections, routine maintenance, repairing potentially dangerous walkways, and cleaning slippery surfaces. If a particularly dangerous surface cannot be made safe to walk on before customers or visitors are expected near it, premises owners must use proper, clearly readable signage to warn them of the risk.
For example, if a liquid spills on the floor of a grocery store during opening hours, the owner must use a “Caution, Wet Floor” sign as soon as possible to warn customers of the spill. They should then clean the spillage within a reasonable time frame to further reduce the risk of a slip and fall on the premises.
Premises liability law also applies to owners or managers of apartment buildings and medical facilities. All floors must be safe to walk on, and any slippery surfaces or substances should be clearly marked and cleaned as quickly as possible.
Who Does Premises Liability Law Affect?
In Michigan, premises liability recognizes three distinct types of individuals visiting another person’s property: invitees, licensees, and trespassers.
- Invitees are individuals who enter the property with a mutual benefit to the premises owner and themselves. The most common example is a customer in a store, but it can also include patients in a hospital or residents of an apartment building.
Property owners in Michigan owe the highest duty of care to invitees. They must protect invitees from possible risks and hazards and take proactive steps to ensure they do not slip, fall, or get injured anywhere on the premises.
- Licensees are individuals who are allowed to be on the property and are visiting primarily for social reasons, such as guests at a party. In the context of a commercial building, common examples of licensees include utility workers conducting routine checks or neighbors visiting for social reasons.
Property owners in Michigan owe a moderate duty of care to licensees. They must make a reasonable effort to warn them of any known hazards or dangerous surfaces.
- Trespassers are individuals who enter the premises without permission. They include both trespassers with malicious intent, such as thieves or vandals, as well as non-malicious ones, such as squatters or urban explorers.
Michigan property owners generally owe the lowest duty of care to trespassers. If a trespassing person injures themselves on the premises, the owner is unlikely to be responsible for the damages.
State law may offer limited protection to certain types of trespassers. Common examples include child trespassers (especially under the attractive nuisance doctrine), known for frequent trespassing by the business owner, or if the owner has intentionally provoked the trespasser (willful and wanton misconduct).
What Qualifies as a Slip and Fall Accident?
In Michigan, a slip and fall is an injury claim based on a fall that occurs on someone else’s property due to the property owner’s negligence. It does not apply to accidents caused by the victim’s own negligence or lack of attention. A case can only qualify as a slip and fall if another person caused the fall and any resulting injuries.
Slip and fall cases fall under the broad category of premises liability claims. This is because, in order to bring a case against a responsible party, the accident must have occurred on property owned or maintained by another entity other than the victim. Common locations where premises liability applies include:
- Commercial buildings
- Business locations
- Private homes and apartment complexes
- Sidewalk or street
- Rental home
- Public transportation
- Store or shopping center
- Stairways inside buildings
- Aisles in stores
- Health clubs
- Complexes in parking lots
There are many reasons you might slip and fall in one of these locations, from faulty construction to poor maintenance, including:
- Accumulation of ice or snow on sidewalks
- Poor lighting
- Defective flooring or raised carpeting
- Standing water puddles
- Slippery floors and surfaces
- Improperly secured floor mats
- Defective steps
- Unsafe stairways and walkways
- Hidden drops or holes in the floor
- Cheap building materials
- Clutter and debris
What Are Common Slip and Fall Injuries?
According to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI), falls account for over 8 million emergency room (ER) visits. They are the leading cause of hospitalization nationwide, representing 21.3% of all cases.
While injury severity varies depending on the fall, all of them can potentially result in pain, suffering, and a decreased quality of life. Older adults are at a higher risk; they are more likely to fall, and the injuries they can sustain are more likely to be severe. The NFSI estimates that 1 in 3 Americans over the age of 65 experience a fall each year, and half of them have already fallen before.
Common types of slip and fall injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Fractures and broken bones
- Shoulder injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Torn ligaments and tendons
- Nerve damage
The most severe falls are fatal. Even if the fall doesn’t result in the death of a victim, complications and health conditions may prevent them from recovering after the fall. If a family member or a loved one dies in a slip and fall on another person’s premises, you may be able to seek justice.
An experienced Michigan slip and fall attorney can help you file a wrongful death claim and seek the compensation your family deserves.
What is the Michigan Statute of Limitations for Slip and Fall Claims?
According to Michigan law (MCL 600.5805), the statute of limitations for a typical slip and fall claim is three years, provided it resulted in injuries or death to the victim. This statute of limitation begins from the day the incident occurred.
For example, if you were injured on another person’s property on January 27, 2023, the statute of limitations means you have until January 27, 2026, to file a lawsuit against the responsible party. If you were to sue the premises owner after that date, the court is likely to dismiss your case and you are unlikely to recover compensation from them through the courts.
Specific circumstances can change the statute of limitations or the amount of time you have before starting legal action against a responsible party.
The legal principle of discovery allows a case to use the date of discovery of a previously unknown injury as the starting point for the statute of limitations. This rule applies if the victim has no way of knowing they were injured or suffered damages immediately after the fall.
For example, many types of injuries can have a delayed onset, meaning a victim may not initially realize they were injured until days, weeks, or even months after the fact. In that case, the victim may be able to argue the statute of limitations started on the day they realized the symptoms were linked to the fall.
A common way to establish discovery under this principle is to receive a professional medical opinion confirming a specific injury or back pain was caused by that fall.
In Michigan, the discovery rule principle is established in case law, such as the landmark Larson v. Johns-Manville case in 1986.
If the injured party in a slip and fall case is a minor, an additional legal rule applies. According to the Michigan Compiled Laws (MCL 600.5851(1)), if the victim was a minor at the time of the accident, they are considered legally unable to start legal action against the responsible party.
The law states that such a person has one year after that restriction is lifted to start legal action, regardless of whether the standard statute of limitations is still in place. This effectively gives minor victims two distinct time frames to sue the responsible parties, either one of which may apply depending on their age at the time of the accident.
- Example 1: You were 17 years and 2 months old at the time of your slip and fall due to the premises owner’s negligence. In this case, the standard 3-year statute may apply. By the time you reach your 18th birthday, you still have over 2 years to initiate legal action.
- Example 2: You were 14 years old at the time of a slip and fall accident caused by a negligent business owner. The standard statute of limitations is tolled while you are still a minor. When you turn 18, the rule as defined in MCL 600.5851(1) will go into effect. At this point, you will have one year (until your 19th birthday) to initiate legal action.
Parents and legal guardians may initiate a lawsuit on behalf of an injured minor, in which case the standard statutes of limitations may apply. It can allow an injured child to seek compensation even before they reach the age of majority.
How Do I Build a Slip and Fall Case?
Slip and fall cases are often complex because negligence can be challenging to prove. Victims of slip and fall accidents must seek out the help of a qualified personal injury attorney as soon as possible to help them navigate their case and collect the evidence necessary to prove their claim.
A slip and fall accident victim needs five factors to win a slip and fall case in Michigan:
- Collect evidence of the unsafe environment. To establish your case, it’s essential to demonstrate that the property had a slippery or dangerous surface leading to the fall. Working with your slip and fall attorney, you’ll need to gather relevant evidence to support this. This includes collecting witness statements, accident reports, medical records, and photographic or video evidence of the location.
- Showing the premises owner owed you a duty of care. To maximize your chances of obtaining compensation in a slip and fall case, it’s crucial to show that you were owed a duty of care, either as a licensee or an invitee. Although Michigan law provides certain safeguards for trespassers, they typically have the least likelihood of successfully claiming damages.
The slip and fall accident lawyers at Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. can help you collect valuable evidence and prove the level of duty of care you were owed under Michigan’s premises liability laws.
- Demonstrating the premises owner knew about the unsafe environment. Under Michigan premises liability law, business owners must make reasonable efforts to warn and protect non-trespassers from slipping and falling on their premises. However, a business owner may be able to argue they are not responsible for your injuries if they themselves were unaware of the hazardous conditions that caused your fall.
Your legal team can help you prove whether the business owner knew or was aware of the risks at the time of your accident. Proving they knew or should have reasonably known about the circumstances of your fall is necessary to establish their responsibilities.
- Proving the premises owner failed to keep their premises safe. Your legal team will help you collect the evidence necessary to establish the property owner’s responsibilities. In addition to showing they knew or should have known about the slippery surface, your evidence must also demonstrate they acted negligently.
For instance, the evidence should show that they neglected to use wet floor signs, didn’t give customers sufficient warning, or failed to clean up or make the floor safe within a reasonable timeframe.
- Linking your injuries to the fall. You must be able to prove that your fall was the cause of your injuries. Medical records recording your injuries and treatment and your doctor’s testimony can help prove that the fall was the direct cause.
For help building your premises liability lawsuit, contact Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. today. Our personal injury law firm provides exceptional legal representation to clients with various types of injuries, assisting them in establishing hazardous conditions at their accident location.
Our senior partner, Eileen Kroll, can use her background as a registered nurse to analyze your medical records. Her specialized expertise will enable you to demonstrate that your injuries were caused by the fall and to detail their severity with a uniquely qualified perspective.
Contact Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. Today
The owner of a business or property has the responsibility to keep their invitees and licensees safe from injury. If a business owner has failed in their duty of care toward you, resulting in injuries, pain, and suffering, you deserve justice and compensation.
Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. has the skill and experience to fight for your rights as an injured person and prove negligence on the property owner’s part. Our slip and fall accident lawyers can help you seek the compensation you deserve to pay for medical bills, attendant care, and lost wages resulting from your accident.
The Law Offices of Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. is dedicated to representing individuals and families who have suffered catastrophic losses as a result of injuries, disabilities, and death. The firm does not represent insurance companies or corporations but instead bases its practice upon representing individuals and families.
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-MICH-LAW and schedule your no-obligation, free consultation.
The doctrine of “comparative negligence” often applies in slip and fall cases, and that generates another set of issues to be explored by legal counsel. The comparative negligence standard looks at whether the victim had a legitimate reason to be at the place where the hazard existed, if a careful person could have observed and avoided the hazard, if any warnings existed, and if the victim was distracted.
Cochran, Kroll & Associates will make sure you obtain necessary and timely medical consultation and will help you preserve the valuable evidence about what caused the injury. Cochran, Kroll & Associates also will make sure the lawsuit is filed on time, which is very important. For instance, if you fall on a sidewalk owned by a municipality then you might have less than 90 days to file a claim.
If you believe you are a slip and fall victim, let Cochran, Kroll & Associates fight for your rights. Click here for a free consultation or call 866-868-3779 and ask for Terry Cochran or Eileen Kroll.
Cochran, Kroll & Associates will provide a free consultation, either on the telephone, over the Internet, in person and sometimes at your home or in the hospital room. You will be charged a contingency fee, which means that the attorney will only be paid a fee if a recovery is made. “The purpose of the contingency fee agreement is to provide access to justice, says Cochran. “It would be totally unfair if an injured person was unable to seek compensation because he or she couldn’t afford an attorney.”
The Law Offices of Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. is dedicated to representing individuals and families who have suffered catastrophic losses as a result of injuries, disabilities and death. The firm does not represent insurance companies or corporations but instead bases its practice upon representing individuals and families.