In Michigan, if you’ve been injured in a slip and fall on ice and snow, you may be entitled to recover compensation with the help of an experienced lawyer. Property owners have a duty to protect you from wintry conditions. When they don’t, and you are injured as a result, they can be held responsible.
For nearly twenty years, property owners could escape responsibility.
But no longer. The law in Michigan was changed in 2023, and victims of slip and falls due to wintery conditions now have important new legal rights when property owners fail to make their property safe.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured as a result of a slip and fall on ice and snow, it is more important than ever to talk to an experienced lawyer who specializes in premises liability law.
The law is now on your side.
And so is our team at Michigan Slip and Fall Lawyers.
What is the law for an injury due to wintry conditions in Michigan?
Under a Michigan Supreme Court ruling in 2023, the law for slip and fall on ice and snow requires property owners to take reasonable care to protect invitees – i.e., customers and people doing business with the owners – against “the hazards of the natural accumulation of ice and snow on the property.”
In its opinion in Kandil-Elsayed vs. F&E Oil and Pinsky vs. Kroger of Michigan, the Michigan Supreme Court affirmed this legal duty that property owners owe to their invitees, noting that it requires property owners to take “reasonable measures” to reduce the danger posed to invitees by ice and snow within a reasonable amount of time of snow and ice accumulating.
Factors that courts will consider in determining whether a property owner breached his or her duty to protect invitees against the dangers of snow and ice on his or her premises include:
- What measures did the property owner take to keep invitees safe?
- Were the measures reasonable?
- How long after the accumulation of snow and ice did the property owner take measures to reduce the hazardous condition?
- Was it a reasonable amount of time?
- What time did it start snowing?
- Had the snow stopped at the time of the victim’s slip and fall?
Falls are one of the leading causes of preventable deaths and injuries, according to the National Safety Council. Falls make up 20% of preventable injury-related deaths annually and 33% of the preventable, non-fatal injuries. Falls are the top cause of traumatic brain injuries, according to the CDC.
The NSC reports that in 2021 – the most current year for which data is available – slip and falls resulted in approximately 45,000 preventable deaths and nearly 7.1 million preventable, non-fatal injuries.
Every year, 3 million people who are 65 years of age or older are treated in hospital emergency departments for slip and fall injuries, according to the CDC.
The most current data available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in a one-year period, falls, slips and trips in the construction industry resulted in 418 deaths and 25,460 non-fatal injuries.
Falls are the second leading cause of fatal injuries in Michigan, according to the Michigan Department of Community Health. Unfortunately, fatal falls have been increasing annually for the last 11 years. In 2021, the most recent year for which data is available, there were 1,542 fall-related deaths in Michigan which was the highest number between 2011 and 2021.
Slip and fall on ice and snow injuries
The injuries most commonly suffered in a slip and fall on ice and snow include: (1) traumatic brain injuries (TBI); (2) skull fractures; (3) brain bleeds; (4) spinal cord injuries; (5) fractured vertebrae; (5) broken bones; (6) injuries to the eyes, nose, teeth and jaw; and (7) knee injuries (torn MCL or ACL).
Simultaneously with those injuries, slip and fall victims will frequently suffer: (a) nerve damage; (b) mental trauma; (c) depression; and (d) chronic pain.
What to do if you slip and fall due to wintry conditions in Michigan
After a slip and fall on ice and snow in Michigan, you should talk to an experienced lawyer. In Michigan, there are very few personal injury lawyers who have experience handling slip and fall cases. In fact, there is only one law firm in the entire state that specializes in helping people who have suffered slip and fall injuries (ours). Hiring a lawyer who understands this complex area of law is critical to helping you to recover the compensation and money damages you are legally entitled to.
Immediately after a slip and fall on ice and snow, it is important to act quickly:
- Seek medical attention immediately
- Get the names, phone numbers and email addresses of witness to your slip and fall
- Document the scene of your fall as thoroughly as possible with photos and video, or even better, contact an experienced slip and fall lawyer who has the resources to send investigators to the scene immediately who can document the dangerous hazard that caused your injury.
- Report your fall immediately to the property owner or manager – Fill out a report and get a copy of the report
To learn more, here are the 7 steps you should take after a slip and fall accident.
Remember, slip and fall cases are very different from other areas of personal injury law. Most of these cases require an extensive liability investigation as soon as possible in order to proceed. Waiting weeks or months is fine for other types of injury cases, but it can be fatal to proving your slip and fall case.
Where can slip and falls due to wintry conditions occur?
A slip and fall in Michigan can occur just about anywhere where there is ice and snow, but the most common places for these accidents to happen are businesses and commercial retail stores, apartment complexes, work or places of employment, parking lots, and gas stations. Landlords and owners must remember their duty to protect invitees from ice and snow hazards.
Slip and fall on ice at apartment complex
In Michigan, for a slip and fall on ice and snow at an apartment complex, you may have a premises liability claim against the property owner based on negligence. Additionally, a tenant may have a breach of contract claim against the landlord for failing to keep the common areas “fit for the use intended.” (MCL 554.139(1)(a))
Michigan law requires that in “every lease or license of residential premises, the lessor or licensor covenants . . . [t]hat the premises and all common areas are fit for the use intended by the parties.” (MCL 554.139(1)(a))
In Allison v. AEW Capital Management, LLP, a case involving a slip and fall due to wintery conditions in an apartment complex’s parking lot, the Michigan Supreme Court stated the following about breach of contract claims brought under MCL 554.139(1)(a):
- A slip and fall victims’ recovery against the landlord “would consist exclusively of a contract remedy.”
- The “common areas” that a landlord must keep fit for intended use are “those areas of the property over which the lessor retains control that are shared by two or more, or all, of the tenants,” such as parking lots and sidewalks.
- A landlord’s duty to keep the common areas “fit for the use intended” extends to “the natural accumulation of snow and ice” in a parking lot or sidewalk within the apartment complex.
- A claim under the statute may only be brought by a tenant. A non-tenant cannot make a claim because the contractual duty created by the statute only applies to the landlord and the tenant – the two parties that are bound by a contractual relationship, i.e., the lease.
To keep common areas in an apartment complex “fit” for their intended use, the landlord, property owner or manager may need to take the following steps regarding ice and snow: (1) shoveling; (2) de-icing; and (3) salting.
Slip and fall on ice at work
In Michigan, when you suffer a slip and fall on ice and snow at work, you will be able to file a Worker’s Compensation claim against your employer. These benefits will help you pay for your medical care and make up for wages you’ve been unable to earn. Depending on the laws of your state, you will likely be unable to sue your employer for pain and suffering compensation.
However, if the negligence of someone other than your employer – or a co-worker – was the cause of your injury from a slip and fall on ice and snow, then you may be able to sue the responsible third-party for compensation for your pain and suffering.
Employers have a responsibility to make sure the work space is safe for all employees. This includes removing ice and snow from parking lots, walkways, sidewalks, and other areas where employees may walk. Failure to fulfill this duty can lead to slip and fall injuries and potential legal consequences for the employer.
Slip and fall on ice in parking lot
In Michigan, a key issue in bringing a claim after a slip and fall on ice and snow in a parking lot is that you qualify as an “invitee” of the property owner, i.e., that you were a customer of the business that owns and manages the parking lot. If you’re not, then you’re owed no duty to be protected against ice and snow hazards.
To qualify as an “invitee,” a person must have been “invited” onto the owner’s property for the owner’s “commercial purposes,” i.e., for the invitee to conduct business with owner such that there is the “prospect of pecuniary gain” for the property owner.
In other words, if you just happen to park in a business’s parking lot and don’t go into the business or you go to another business, then you may be unable to bring a premises liability claim against the property owner.
Slip and fall on ice at gas station
In Michigan, it is important to remember that when you as a customer suffer a slip and fall on ice and snow at a gas station, the property owner – which may be the oil and gas company or a franchisee – owes you a duty to take “reasonable measures” to diminish the hazard that snow and ice accumulation poses to invitees like you.
Gas stations typically have concrete surfaces that can become slippery when covered in ice or snow. It is the responsibility of the gas station owner to keep the premises safe for customers, including clearing ice and snow to prevent accidents.
Michigan slip and fall on ice lawsuit
A Michigan Supreme Court ruling in 2023 helps people who need to file a lawsuit after suffering a slip and fall on ice and snow. No longer can negligent property owners get lawsuits dismissed by blaming their victims for their injuries. When a hazard is “open and obvious,” a property owner must anticipate the harm.
Previously, property owners and insurance companies had misconstrued Michigan law to convince courts that property owners owed no duty to protect customers and other invitees from dangerous conditions on their land if the dangers were “open and obvious.” This resulted in many legitimate cases being tossed out of court and many slip and fall victims wrongfully being denied justice.
Now, when there’s a so-called “open and obvious” danger on a property owner’s premises, the courts will inquire whether the property owner should have anticipated the harm that befell the slip and fall victim in determining whether the property owner breached his or her duty to invitees.
Michigan slip and fall on ice settlements
In Michigan, one of the most important factors that will determine how much you win in a slip and fall on ice and snow settlement and how fast you get your money is your choice of lawyer. Cases handled by experienced attorneys who specialize in slip and fall litigation – like our attorneys – settle for more money and faster.
Other factors that will come into play in determining how much money you will get in your settlement include: (1) your injuries; (2) your current and future medical needs; (3) your current lost wages; (4) future lost wages if your injuries will continue to prevent you from working; and (5) your pain and suffering.
Injured In A Slip And Fall In Michigan due to wintry conditions? Call an experienced lawyer now!
The stakes are high for you and your family if you’ve been seriously injured as a result of a slip and fall on ice and snow in Michigan and our lawyers can help. The attorneys at Michigan Slip and Fall Lawyers are here to help you and your family fight to get the best possible legal settlement for you and your family. Call now for a no-cost, no obligation, free consultation with one of our experienced slip and fall lawyers to discuss your legal rights under the law to pain and suffering compensation and to money damages to help you and your family pay your medical bills and make up for the wages you’ve lost because your injuries have disabled you from working. To speak with us about your injury, call us now, or fill out our contact form for a free consultation.