Over 1 million Americans annually receive emergency room treatment for injuries sustained in slip and fall accidents. And while some slip-and-fall accidents happen due to simple clumsiness, many fall injuries happen due to dangerous conditions such as loose bricks, slippery floors, and trip hazards on someone else’s property.
Under Michigan law, if the slip and fall accident was due to someone else’s negligence, you are entitled to receive financial compensation for it. However, recovering financial compensation in slip and fall lawsuits requires you to prove there was negligence and that it caused damages.
This detailed article will explain everything about proving negligence in a Michigan slip and fall case. Moreover, we’ll go over the types of compensation an injured person might expect in a fair settlement.
Did you suffer a slip and fall injury due to a property owner or tenant’s negligence? At The Lobb Law Firm, our personal injury lawyers have been helping victims of negligence get fair compensation for over 45 years. Call us at 248-591-4090 for a free consultation.
What Is Negligence?
Negligence is a failure to achieve the level of care that an individual or company with normal prudence would have practiced under similar circumstances.
In other words, a person is considered negligent when they intentionally or unintentionally fail to behave the way a reasonable individual would in the same circumstances.
However, negligence does not automatically make someone legally liable or responsible for the harm. In order to prove negligence overall in a lawsuit, the victim or the person seeking any type of compensation must prove the following four elements:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff.
- The defendant failed to fulfill the duty or there was a breach of duty.
- The breach of duty was the proximate cause of the fall injuries.
- The plaintiff sustained a serious injury due to the breach of duty, which can be compensated.
Legally, negligence in slip and fall accidents is the failure of the party accountable for exercising reasonable care in a given situation. However, the constituents of “reasonable” care depend on the party(s) in question and the situation at hand.
Examples of Negligence in Slip and Fall Cases
There are plenty of reasons people slip and fall on property owned or controlled by another party or parties. Some of these include:
- Debris and objects in the walkways
- Wet floors without an intimation
- The build-up of snow or ice on walkways
- Damaged and uneven flooring
- Cracked pavement and sidewalks
- Poor and inappropriate lighting
- Loose floor runners and rugs
- Loose, damaged, or missing handrails
To prove that the slip and fall accident took place and caused injuries, you must prove that the property owner or the occupant failed to exercise reasonable care.
Negligence can result in a dangerous situation, like the ones listed above, and the injuries caused by it can be life-threatening.
It’s indispensable to contact slip and fall lawyers in Michigan right away after you or someone you know has been injured. Speak to the professional slip-and-fall accident lawyers at The Lobb Law Firm today to discuss your case.
What Is Comparative Negligence and How Does It Pertain to Slip and Fall Cases?
The term comparative negligence describes the share of fault attributable to every party involved in a slip and fall accident (the defendant and the plaintiff).
In other words, comparative negligence explains the share of blame each party holds in a slip-and-fall accident. For example, you might slip and fall on someone else’s property because you were running recklessly. Or you may have slipped, but there was a wet floor sign alerting you not to walk through that area.
To win a slip and fall case in Michigan, the plaintiff must prove that the fall occurred due to the negligence of the party responsible for maintaining the premises.
Comparative negligence substantially affects the outcome of a slip-and-fall case because the amount awarded by the jury is reduced by the percentage of fault held by the plaintiff.
The Effects of Comparative Negligence on a Slip and Fall Case
The first thing to remember is that a jury only determines the victim’s comparative negligence once it determines that the defendant was negligent. If a plaintiff goes to a trial in a slip-and-fall case and the verdict is that the defendant was not negligent, the case is closed.
If, however, the jury determines that the defendant was negligent, then it considers if the plaintiff also shares part of the negligence. Here’s how comparative negligence might affect your slip and fall case.
You Can Recover Less or Nothing at All
The amount of compensation you can recover depends on your percentage of fault. It is up to the jury to calculate the amount of blame placed on the victim.
The court reduces the recovery amount by the percentage of responsibility assigned to you by the jury.
For example, let’s say the jury awards you $50,000 in damages, but they find that you are also 20% to blame for the accident. As a result, the judge orders a reduction of 20% in damages, which means $10,000 will be deducted from the claim.
Furthermore, if the jury finds you are over 50% to blame for the slip and fall accident, you don’t recover anything at all.
Building a Case Becomes Difficult
When comparative negligence is an issue in your case, you must gather adequate evidence to prove your fall claim. You may need to collect photographs or videos, debris from the scene, past safety inspections, and so on. You’ll also need to speak to some eyewitnesses that can help you prove the claim.
If you cannot produce enough evidence, the jury may assign you a higher percentage of negligence, which may close the case in the defendant’s favor.
Working around comparative negligence is difficult, but Michigan slip and fall lawyers can help by dedicating a team to finding evidence to strengthen the case. Dial 248-591-4090 to book an appointment to discuss the details of your case.
How to Prove Negligence in a Slip and Fall Case and What Evidence You Can Use
To prove negligence in a slip and fall case, you or the victim must prove the following four elements.
Duty of Care
According to Michigan law, you must prove that the party at fault owed a duty of care to you or the victim as a visitor to the property. Firstly, you need to show that the defendant has a legal right over the property or manages the premises.
After establishing the defendant’s control over the property, you need to prove that it was the duty of the defendant to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition by taking all appropriate measures.
NOTE: The kind of duty of care the property owner or occupant owes depends on the kind of visitor you are and with what intention you visited the property.
Breach of Duty
Next, you must prove that a dangerous situation was created due to the other party’s negligence. For example, there was a cluttered walkway with insufficient lighting that led you to slip and fall. It was the fault of the owner for not keeping it clear and installing brighter lights.
Once you show that a dangerous condition was created due to the defendant’s negligence, you need to prove that the defendant was aware of those conditions.
In Michigan, notice can be either constructive notice or actual notice. Meaning, the defendant either knew some dangerous conditions existed on their property or they should have known about the dangerous conditions.
In order to receive compensation, you must show that the slip and fall accident caused by dangerous conditions on someone else’s property resulted in fall injuries. The most common injuries that result from slip and fall accidents in Macomb County are:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Mobility-limiting broken bones and fractures
- Incapacitating hip fractures
- Painful slipped or herniated discs
Many falls can also result in spinal cord-related injuries that create life-changing circumstances for the victim.
Lastly, to get compensation in a slip and fall case, you must show that the injuries resulted in damages. The damages may include lost income, hospital bills, and other things contributing to the overall suffering and pain you’ve been through.
Could the Property Owner or Occupant Have Prevented the Accident?
If you or anyone you know has been injured in a slip and fall accident, filing a lawsuit against the property owner or occupant might seem like the right decision.
However, it can be daunting to prove that the property manager (either the owner or the occupant) was responsible for the accident.
First, ask yourself, “Could the accident have been avoided if the premises manager had been more careful?” Property owners or occupants are not always responsible for accidents that a reasonable individual would have avoided. Be sure to speak with a reliable personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to determine if you have a case.
Did you get injured in a slip-and-fall accident? We’ll get you the compensation you deserve. NO FEE until we win! Call 248-591-4090 today!
What Evidence Can You Use to Prove Negligence in a Slip and Fall Case?
Proving that the owner or occupant of the premises was negligent in your slip and fall generally requires evidence from the accident scene to establish your claim. For instance, if you fell on the floor due to toys left on someone’s walkway, it’ll require evidence that the objects were there because of the property owner’s or occupant’s negligence.
Some common kinds of evidence that a slip-and-fall lawyer in Michigan uses to establish a claim of negligence include:
- Photos and videos recorded by you at the accident site.
- Photos and videos recorded by the witnesses or CCTV footage.
- Eyewitness statements.
- A slip and fall incident report (if available).
- Your medical bills.
- Repair receipts for the damages to property incurred due to the slip and fall accident.
- Notes that you made about the accident and the injuries you sustained, including daily pain levels and inability to work.
Proving negligence requires strong evidence to help you establish your slip and fall claim. Also, you need to ensure that the evidence proves that you weren’t at fault in order to get fair compensation for the damages.
A slip and fall accident lawyer can investigate to determine if adequate evidence exists to present a case. The legal team can investigate to determine if the property owner or tenant has followed the required procedures to ensure reasonable safety at the premises.
Moreover, the investigation can uncover additional evidence where the issues were known, including multiple complaints about the danger or inspection reports highlighting the hazardous conditions.
Expert witness testimony is crucial in supporting your claim against the negligent property owner or tenant. The fall accident attorneys can consult with eyewitnesses on multiple facets of the case, including how the event happened and how the property manager was responsible for it.
What If There Is Little to No Evidence?
To prove the case of negligence at trial, you must produce valid evidence in front of the jury. However, there is not always enough evidence to prove a slip and fall case. In such situations, the plaintiff may rely on the doctrine of “res ipsa loquitur,” which is Latin for “things that speak for themselves.”
Under this type of theory, the jury in a slip and fall or any negligence case can infer that the defendant acted in a negligent manner, even without ample proof of misconduct.
For the doctrine to apply, it’s important for the plaintiff to prove that the event that occurred usually does not happen in the absence of negligence and that the property owner or occupant had exclusive control over the object that caused the injury.
For example, an individual who was injured because they tripped on a bag of cement on a public sidewalk in front of a cement warehouse may not have any direct evidence that the warehouse owner was negligent. However, the bag of cement that caused the accident did not belong on the walkway and clearly came from the warehouse owned by the defendant.
In such instances, the jury may refer to “res ipsa loquitur” to infer negligence on the part of the defendant.
Elements of Res Ipsa Loquitur
The states regulate the personal injury laws and evidence so the laws regarding res ipsa loquitur also vary. Here we are referring to the laws in Michigan.
Under the res ipsa loquitur model, the plaintiff must prove three elements for the jury to infer that the defendant was negligent. These elements include:
The Presence of Negligence
Not all slip-and-fall accidents occur because someone else was negligent. However, some accidents would never occur if someone hadn’t acted negligently.
Going back to the case of cement-bag, it’s evident that things don’t generally fall out of a warehouse unless someone is at fault or has acted carelessly. When, for example, a bag of cement, falls out of a warehouse or is left out on the walkway, the law assumes that it happened because of someone’s negligence.
The Defendant Is Solely Responsible
The second important component of a res ipsa loquitur case relies on whether the defendant is responsible for the damages the victim has suffered. If in the absence of enough evidence, the plaintiff fails to prove that they sustained injuries due to the defendant’s negligence, they won’t be able to recover anything under res ipsa loquitur.
In states like Michigan, the defendant’s negligence is determined by whether they had exclusive control over the instrumentality that caused the accident and injured the plaintiff.
The Defendant Owes a duty of care to the Plaintiff
Besides proving the aforementioned two elements, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant owes a duty of care. According to res ipsa loquitur, if the defendant does not owe the plaintiff a duty of care, there’ll be an absence of negligence. For example, if a trespasser with intent to break into the property suffers injuries, there is no duty of care owed. In a nutshell, the defendant will not be responsible for any injuries caused to the plaintiff.
Rebutting Res Ipsa Loquitur
Res ipsa loquitur only allows the plaintiff to establish an inference of the defendant’s negligence; it does not prove negligence completely. Under the law, the defendant can still deny the presupposition of negligence created by res ipsa loquitur by refuting any of the above-listed elements.
The defendant can also demonstrate that it was the fault of the plaintiff that caused the injuries. If the defendant proves that the plaintiff entered an area marked as hazardous, it could deny the presupposition of negligence according to res ipsa loquitur.
Lastly, the defendant could prove that they were not responsible for owing the plaintiff a duty of care or that the injury that they sustained does not fall in the scope of the duty owed.
Are you a victim of a slip and fall seeking justice? At The Lobb Law Firm, we can help your claim by proving that the defendant was at fault. From gathering the evidence to establishing its relevance to the case, we can build your case and get you the compensation you deserve.
Call us at 248-591-4090 for a free consultation to discuss your case with law experts.
What Compensation Can You Receive?
According to Michigan law, you are entitled to receive a financial award if you have suffered harm or damages due to a slip and fall accident caused by the property owner’s negligence.
However, the compensation depends on the extent and severity of the injuries sustained. The best option is to contact a slip-and-fall attorney to discuss your case and learn more about the available legal options.
Usually, victims of slip and fall cases can pursue the following compensation
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
- Miscellaneous costs related to the injury
In case of severe injuries, you can also recover the following damages:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of life enjoyment
Depending on your claim and the injuries you have sustained, the compensation will vary. The aforementioned list does not comprise all the compensatory benefits you can receive.
An expert fall injury attorney can help you calculate the damages you can ask for in compensation.
Can You Sue for a Slip and Fall Accident If You Were Trespassing?
Trespassing on someone else’s property can be a crime, but there are circumstances when the property or business owner/occupant can be held responsible for the trespasser’s injuries.
Suing may seem implausible, but if you sustained injuries while trespassing without criminal intent on property that belongs to someone else, you might be eligible to receive compensation. It is best to contact a lawyer to determine if you have a solid case.
When Can You Recover Damages If You Were Injured While Trespassing?
You cannot sue the property owner or occupant in most circumstances if you were hurt while trespassing on their premises. However, according to Michigan law, there are some circumstances where the defendant can be held responsible for the injuries caused to the plaintiff. These include:
- The property owner or tenant discovered trespassers and failed to warn them about the potential harm. Sometimes, the trespassers use a property for a certain reason, and the owner knows about it. For example, if kids cross someone’s yard to get to the nearest bus stop and get injured while doing so, the property owner can be held responsible for it.
- Another circumstance where the defendant is responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries is if they failed to take necessary safety measures. For example, if someone has an electric fence around their house and there aren’t any warning signs, the injuries caused to the plaintiff by the fence are due to the owner’s negligence.
On the other hand, the property owner is not always responsible for a slip and fall accident. There are situations when you cannot sue them for damages. The defendant wouldn’t be liable for the damages if you suffered them while:
- Participating in illegal activity or committing a crime. For example, breaking into someone’s property and suffering injuries.
- Getting involved in activities considered dangerous or risky. Activities such as riding an ATV on someone’s property would be considered risky behavior and will not warrant a personal injury slip and fall lawsuit against the owner.
If the property owner or occupant purposely creates hazardous situations with the intent to hurt the trespasser, they may be held responsible.
Slip and fall cases get pretty complicated, especially when the trespassing angle is involved. A professional lawyer from a personal injury law firm can help you calculate the damages and properly file a slip-and-fall lawsuit.
You should contact a fall injury attorney to determine if you can stand a case against the property owner occupant.
Contact The Lobb Law Firm to Discuss Your Slip and Fall Case Today!
Did you suffer injuries and damages on someone’s property because of their negligence? You can file a personal injury case against the person or company and recover compensation for the damages.
The Lobb Law Firm understands the uniqueness and complexity of each slip and fall case we take on and we prepare a strategy accordingly. Our professional slip-and-fall attorneys can help you with everything, such as gathering and organizing the evidence, negotiating a settlement, presenting your case in court, and more. We are always fighting for your best interests.
Call us at 248-591-4090 to set up a free case consultation and explore your available legal options if you were injured in a slip and fall accident.