When we visit a store, a mall, a restaurant, or take a walk down the sidewalk in Ann Arbor, we probably never stop to wonder about dangerous or hazardous conditions on the floor or ground that may cause us to fall. This is why property and business owners owe a duty to their visitors to warn them of hazards that may cause a fall or to repair or remove those hazards.
When property owners, occupiers, or business owners fail in this duty, they may be held liable to someone who suffers injuries due to those hazards in a slip and fall action.
A slip and fall claim refers to any case where a person suffered a fall and resulting injuries due to some condition of the property they were visiting. A property owner, occupier, or operator may be legally responsible for compensating a visitor to the property who is injured by a fall caused by an unreasonably dangerous or hazardous condition on the property.
Contact Christensen Law today to schedule a free initial case review to talk to an experienced Ann Arbor slip and fall lawyer about your accident. You can learn more about your legal rights and options for pursuing compensation for your injuries and damages. Call us or reach out online now.
What Do You Have to Prove in a Slip and Fall Case?
Proving the liability of a property owner or business for a slip and fall case will begin with establishing your reason for being on the property. A visitor to property falls into one of three categories:
- Invitee – Someone who enters another’s property, with permission, for the benefit of the property owner or operator, such as the customers of a business. Owners or operators owe the highest duty of care to an invitee to warn of dangers or hazards on the property but also to regularly inspect the premises and clean or repair any hazardous conditions.
- Licensee – Someone who enters another’s property, with permission, for the licensee’s own benefit, such as a social guest or a door-to-door salesman. Property owners or operators owe licensees a duty to warn of dangerous or hazardous conditions the licensee likely will not see or avoid.
- Trespasser – Someone who lacks permission to be on the property. Property and business owners need only refrain from recklessly or intentionally causing injury to a trespasser, such as with a trap. However, property and business owners do owe a duty to protect children trespassers from dangers and hazards children might be attracted to, like a swimming pool.
Many Ann Arbor slip and fall cases involve invitees onto business property. In these cases, the accident victim will need to prove that:
- The property or business owner either created or knew about the condition that caused the slip and fall accident, or should have discovered the condition’s existence with reasonable diligence
- The owner had reasonable opportunity to clean up or repair the condition or warn visitors of its existence, and the owner failed to do so.
Sometimes property or business owners will argue that the condition that caused the slip and fall constituted an “open and obvious” hazard that the accident victim chose to traverse and failed to do so with reasonable care. If a property or business owner assets an “open and obvious” defense, you may need to prove that the hazard that caused your fall was not easily visible and obvious to you or another reasonable person.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Slip and Fall?
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, you may wonder whether you need a lawyer to protect your rights and interests and help you pursue compensation for your injuries. If you have a potential slip and fall claim, an Ann Arbor premises liability attorney can help you pursue your claim by:
- Thoroughly investigating the facts and circumstances of your accident, recovering critical evidence such as an accident/incident report, surveillance video footage, and accident scene photos
- Identifying the party or parties responsible for the hazard that caused your fall
- Filing claims for compensation with insurance companies
- Working with engineering and other experts to help develop a strong, persuasive legal argument to show how the property or business owner bears legal responsibility for your accident
- Aggressively negotiating on your behalf to secure a settlement that provides you with full and fair compensation for your injuries and damages
- Preparing to take your claim to court and to trial, if it becomes necessary, and advocating on your behalf in court to the judge and jury for a judgment in your favor
An experienced slip and fall attorney can be a critical guide through each step of the claims process, helping you to understand the developments in your case and advising you as to the best steps forward.
How Much Is My Slip and Fall Case Worth?
If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident, you may wonder what kind of compensation you may be entitled to if you bring a legal claim against the property owner or business responsible for your accident. Damages you may be entitled to seek compensation for in a slip and fall case may include:
- Past and future expenses for medical treatment, or the costs of all the treatment you will require for the injuries you suffered in your accident, including hospital stays, surgeries, doctor’s office visits, pain and other prescription medication, physical and occupational therapy, mobility assistance equipment, or other medical devices or equipment
- Long-term care costs, if your injuries cause you to suffer a disability, including personal care assistance or even home alterations to accommodate disabilities
- Lost income, for the time that you miss from work while recovering from injuries
- Future lost earnings, if your injuries prevent you from returning to your old line of work or from returning to any form of gainful employment
- Pain and suffering, or the physical and mental distress and anguish brought about by your injuries
- Loss of enjoyment or quality of life, caused by consequences of your injuries like disabilities or physical disfigurement
- Property damage, like a broken watch or broken glasses caused by your fall
- Loss of consortium, compensation provided to your spouse for the loss of your companionship as a result of your injuries.
Time Limit for Filing a Slip and Fall Claim
Under Michigan law, you have a limited period, known as the statute of limitations, in which to file a lawsuit to pursue compensation for injuries and damages you suffered in a slip and fall accident. The statute of limitations for slip and fall lawsuits is three years from the date of the accident. Certain categories of plaintiffs, such as minor children, may have different limitations periods applicable to them.
If you do not file your lawsuit before the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations in your case, the court will almost certainly permanently dismiss your lawsuit, meaning you will lose your right to pursue compensation in court.
In addition to the statute of limitations, if you suffer a slip and fall accident on government or public property and want to bring a claim against the government, you must provide the government with notice of your claim. You must serve notice on the government and have your claim for compensation denied (or ignored) by the government before you may file a lawsuit for your slip and fall claim.
The notice period for claims against the government is typically shorter than the applicable statute of limitations.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
People suffer slip and fall accidents due to some condition or hazard on the ground that causes a person to lose their footing even during a regular walking motion. Some of the most common causes of slip and fall accidents include:
- Standing water
- Snow and ice
- Oil or other slick substances
- Mud, dirt, gravel, or other outdoor materials tracked inside
- Recently mopped or waxed floors
- Loose or torn rugs or carpeting
- Broken or loose hardwood flooring or tiling
- Abrupt transitions between flooring surfaces, such as going from carpet to hardwood
- Broken or crumbling stairs
- Broken or missing handrails
- Uneven flooring or surfaces (like a curb or half-step)
- Uneven steps or stairs
- Trash or other debris or objects on the floor
- Unsecure wires laid across walkways
- Furniture or open cabinets or doors
Property and business owners have a legal duty to warn of or remedy hazardous conditions. When they fail to do so, and these conditions cause a slip and fall accident, the owners can be held liable.
Places Where Slip and Fall Accidents Occur
Some of the places around Ann Arbor where slip and fall accidents most commonly occur include:
- Swimming pools
- Grocery stores and supermarkets
- Department stores
- Fitness facilities
- Parking lots
- Residential complexes
What to Do If You’ve Been Hurt in a Slip and Fall
If you’ve had a slip and fall accident while on someone else’s property, you should remember to take the following steps immediately following your accident. Following these steps can help strengthen a later claim for compensation for any injuries and damages you suffer in your fall.
- Report your accident to the property or business owner. You should report your slip and fall accident to the property owner or business manager as soon as your accident happens. When your accident occurs at a commercial establishment, you should ask to speak to a manager or risk management officer. They will likely prepare an accident or incident report, which serves as proof that you notified the business of your accident and will detail the manager’s investigation. You should obtain a copy of the report. You should also get the contact and insurance/risk management information for the property or business owner, so you know who to contact if you later need to make a claim for compensation.
- Take photos or videos of the accident scene. If possible, try to photograph or video the accident scene, including whatever caused your fall, any warning signs or other safety equipment in the area, any visual obstructions, the lighting conditions, and the weather conditions outside (if applicable). You should also try to document and preserve the clothes you were wearing at the time of your fall, especially your footwear.
- Follow up with your doctor or other medical provider. Even if you don’t feel at first like you were injured in the fall, you should get a full exam from a doctor or other medical provider, who may be able to identify and treat injuries. Documenting the injuries you suffered in your fall will ensure that you receive prompt treatment and will strengthen your claim that those injuries were caused by your fall.
- Speak to an experienced Ann Arbor slip and fall attorney. A slip and fall attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options after your accident and begin contacting insurance companies on your behalf to start the process of seeking the compensation you deserve for your losses.
Talk to an Ann Arbor Slip and Fall Attorney Now
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident in Ann Arbor that was someone else’s fault, you deserve to pursue financial compensation from the property or business owner where your accident occurred to seek compensation for medical expenses and lost income and to cover your pain and suffering and lost enjoyment of life.
Don’t wait another day to start the slip and fall claims process. Acting quickly can put you in the best position to pursue maximum compensation for your injuries and damages.
Contact Christensen Law now to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an Ann Arbor slip and fall attorney. You can discuss your case and learn more about how a dedicated, skilled slip and fall lawyer can help you seek the financial recovery and justice you need and deserve after suffering an injury due to a property owner’s or business owner’s negligence. Call us today at (734) 224-2968.