Slip and fall comes under the heading of "premises liability". It makes a difference if the accident occurs on commercial property or residential property. This involves the concept of "business invitee" as opposed to a "licensee".
Generally, a business invitee is someone who is on a particular premises for a business purpose. This would include stores, markets, and other commercial properties. However, a business invitee can be someone who comes to a person's home for some business purpose, such as a trades person, caregiver, babysitter, etc. To be a business invitee the person must be there to provide some type of service for monetary or other consideration in order to be considered a business invitee in a residential setting. The reason this is important is because the business invitee is owed a much higher duty from the possessor of the premises than is owed to a licensee.
Over recent years, however, it is increasingly difficult to overcome obstacles that have been placed in the path of a recovery by the appellate courts of Michigan. It is now only those exceptional cases that can proceed.
The doctrine of "open an obvious" has been brought into play by the appellate courts and it basically prohibits recovery by a person who was been injured in some type of premises liability accident where a normal person would have seen the hazard had they been looking for it. The courts have even extended this to children and blind people, imposing on those persons the same standard that they would as to a "normal person".
There are a few ways around this. The primary one is "black or clear ice", but even this is limited. This is because, by definition, "black ice" is actually thin clear ice that takes on the color of the surface is coating (i.e. asphalt) so that it can't be seen. If it is dark out, so that the danger could not be seen, this would be another way of overcoming it. Finally, if the defect is so dangerous that it can be considered to be a "special circumstance", it is possible to get around this.
Another road block is what is known as "notice". This requires the injured person to prove that the premises possessor knew or should have known of the defect. This is sometimes difficult to prove and, typically, comes up in the commercial store situation where there is some substance on the floor that causes a person to slip and fall. This would require the victim to show how long that substance was on the floor and that it was there long enough so that the store should have known about it and had the opportunity to warn people by putting up cones, etc., or clean it up.
What all this means is that there are not a lot of viable slip and fall cases any longer in Michigan. Slip and fall cases often results in very, very serious injuries. Recently, Dr. Atkins, of the Atkins Diet fame, died after hitting his head in a slip and fall accident, as did Katharine Graham, one of the principal owners of the Washington Post. In these instances, had the accidents occurred in Michigan, there would be virtually no chance of bringing a claim.
We have handled many cases involving persons who have terribly broken ankles, legs and hips, as well as serious head injuries, all from slips and falls or trip and falls. Most of the time, if we do take the case, we win a settlement for our clients.
If a serious injury does occur from a premises liability case such as a trip and fall, slip and fall, or something else such as falling merchandise, building defect, etc., be sure and call us. We will be happy to tell you the straight story as we see it. If there is a possibility of a case, we will tell you that. If we don't think there is a case, we will tell you that too. Straight talk is what you can expect and will receive. However, don't wait too long after an accident occurs because investigations need to be performed quickly in these types of accidents, as the landlords, business owners, and homeowners often quickly remedy the defect and there is no way to go back and document the scene after the time passes. By the way, the fact that a landowner later fixes the problem is not usually admissible in any kind of liability case because it is considered to be a "subsequent remedial measure".