It does not take much time in a Michigan winter to discover that the risk of slipping on ice or packed snow is very high. Even though the risk of slipping and falling is higher in the winter months, they can happen in any season. Fortunately, the majority of people are aware of these potential hazards and they take appropriate steps to prevent any accidents. However, this is not always the case.
When a person is injured because of an avoidable hazard on another person's property, the liability may fall on the property owner. These types of claims fall under what is known as premises liability.
If a property or business owner allows people onto their property, they have a responsibility to be aware of potential hazards and to either fix them or alert people to their presence. A common example of this situation is a wet floor sign alerting people to the presence of a potential slipping hazard.
If, however, an owner is aware of a potential hazard and does not take reasonable and appropriate steps to either resolve the issue or to alert people that it is there, the owner may be found liable for damages if someone does happen to be injured. Although slip-and-fall claims are the most common, other common property hazards include,
· Wet floors
· Ice and/or snow buildup
· Poor lighting
· Cracks and/or holes in walking areas
· Exposed wiring
· Damaged structures
It should be noted that, just as property owners have a duty to make their property reasonably safe, so too do people have a duty to act responsibly and to exercise sound judgment. If an individual was acting recklessly and was injured because of it, they may very well be responsible for the consequences of their actions.
What to do if you are injured
If you have been injured as a result of a property owner's negligence, you should immediately take steps to ensure that you are covered.
· Seek medical attention if it is needed.
· Determine the cause of the accident
· Document the area (e.g. take pictures)
· Gather the contact information of any witnesses
· Notify the owner/manager
· Get a copy of the official accident form
If you are able to do all of these things, you will be headed in the right legal direction. However, a solid case will most likely require the assistance of an experienced legal professional. They will be able to ensure that you are covered on your end and that you are able to work to collect the damages you deserve.