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Can You Sue If You Fall on Private Property?


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In Michigan, winter weather can cause slick conditions on sidewalks and other walking areas. But can you sue if you fall on private property? State law provides victims who suffer injuries in a fall on private property with the right to seek damages against the property owner. However, you do have to prove that the property owner behaved negligently and should have taken steps to remove the hazard.

Cases, where someone suffers injuries from a fall on private property, can be quite complex, especially if the property owner does not want to admit fault. For example, perhaps the property owner claims to have removed the hazard before you fell, accusing you of lying about how the accident occurred. Deciding whether to sue after you suffer injuries in a fall on someone else’s property can be difficult to do on your own, so you may want to consult with our slip-and-fall lawyer.

What Kinds of Fall Accidents Are Eligible for a Lawsuit?

You often can sue if you fall on someone’s property when you suffer injuries. You just have to show negligence from the property owner to have the greatest chance of winning your case. According to jury instructions from Michigan courts, negligence means disregarding the potential harm that the property owner’s actions or inaction may cause to others. In other words, the property owner fails to use ordinary care to prevent injuries to another person, resulting in injury because of negligence.

The kinds of situations that could allow you to sue if you fall on private property and suffer injuries include:

  • Weather issues: In Michigan winters, icy or snowy sidewalks are a common cause of slip and fall injuries. Property owners must clear the snow and ice in a reasonable amount of time.

  • Uneven surfaces: If a sidewalk or aisleway has loose boards, worn carpeting, cracked concrete, raised concrete, sunken concrete, potholes, or loose mats, a victim may trip and fall. The property owner should have known about the dangerous surface and should have fixed it.

  • Trip hazards: If an aisleway or sidewalk contains extra boxes, extension cords, large fallen branches, a mat with a large lip, or other hazards, you could trip and fall. The property owner needs to remove such hazards or needs to provide warnings about these hazards if they are not moveable.

  • Poor lighting: When people may be walking on private property at night or in darkened areas of a building, the property owner must include adequate lighting that allows people to see any potential hazards clearly.

  • Broken safety rails: If the private property has handrails or guardrails along a sidewalk or a set of stairs, such handrails must be in proper working order. If they aren’t, the property owner must repair them.

What Is Private Property in a Personal Injury Case?

When you are looking to sue if you fall on private property, you may be wondering whether your injuries actually occurred on private property. Private property fits under two primary categories of commercial and residential property.

Can You Sue If You Fall on Commercial Private Property?

Commercial property is a property that is part of a business or company. For example, if you slip and fall in an icy parking lot at the mall, you may be able to bring a lawsuit against the owner of the mall for not providing a safe space in its parking lot.

You could lose your chance to win a lawsuit, however, if you were trespassing at the business. For example, if you were on the business property without permission after hours in a location that is not accessible to the general public when you fell and suffered injuries, you might not be able to win your case.

Can You Sue If You Fall on Residential Private Property?

Residential property is any type of property where someone lives. The most common residential property is a home. However, because a business owns an apartment complex, a fall at an apartment would likely fit under commercial property.

If you fall at a friend’s home and suffer an injury because of a loose stair or a broken sidewalk, you would have the right to bring a lawsuit against that homeowner. You also could sue a neighbor or a homeowner that you do not know after a fall with injuries if you had the invitation to be on the property. If you were trespassing on the property, however, you could forfeit your right to win a judgment.

How Do I Know If I Can Win a Slip and Fall Case?

When victims of slip-and-fall accidents initially reach out to our team at Goodman Acker P.C., they often are unsure about what to do. They are not always sure about whether their injuries rise to the level of an injury lawsuit. They may feel uneasy about trying to bring a case, not wanting to run the risk of accusing someone else of negligence. They may worry that other lawyers or the judge will say they did something to cause the accident.

These are all normal feelings after a situation where you suffer an injury through no fault of your own. However, you do not need to feel guilt or unease about bringing a case after a fall. When you hire our personal injury attorney in Detroit, we will take action to put your mind at ease about the strength of your case and about how we will take care of you throughout the entire length of the case.

You can trust us to be honest with you about whether we believe you can win a settlement in your case. Certainly, some slip and fall injuries are simply accidents where no one is at fault, meaning some people who come to us do not have a case. However, if you have any doubt about whether the property owner is at fault, consulting with our slip-and-fall lawyer can put your mind at ease.

If you were injured in a slip and fall accident, call Goodman Acker today at t at 248-286-8100.

You May Feel Guilty About Suing a Property Owner

Some people who come to us after a fall may be leery about suing after a fall on someone’s property. The victim may know the homeowner or the business owner well. The victim may not want to cause financial hardship for a friend or a relative or may not want to cause trouble.

Understand, however, that the property owner almost certainly has liability insurance as part of the insurance policy on the property. You suffered injuries, even though you didn’t do anything wrong. Therefore, you should not feel bad or feel guilty about seeking compensation for any medical costs you have related to your injuries or for any work time you had to miss while you recovered. You should not have to suffer a financial loss because of the property owner’s mistake. The property owner’s insurance company should provide the reimbursement for you, meaning the property owner potentially will have minimal personal loss, if any.

When someone feels guilty about seeking damages after a fall on a relative’s or friend’s property, we often find that victims wait a long time to reach out to us about whether they can sue for a fall on private property. Waiting to speak to our slip-and-fall attorney can complicate your chances of winning your case, so we always recommend reaching out to us as soon as possible. Section 600.5805 of Michigan law gives victims up to three years after the date of the injury to start actions to try to recover damages, but we recommend reaching out far sooner than that.

How We Work to Prove Negligence, So You Can Sue If You Fall on Someone’s Property

When you are trying to prove that someone else’s negligence led to your fall and your injuries, you and our slip and fall lawyer will need to show that the four components of a personal injury case occurred in your fall.

  • Duty of care: We must show that the private property owner owed you a duty of care, meaning that you had a right to be on the property — either implied or specifically stated — and that you deserved to be protected.

  • Negligence occurred: We must show that the property owner had an opportunity to fix or remove the hazard that led to your fall on the property, yet the owner chose not to correct the issue promptly or chose not to adequately warn visitors about the hazard.

  • Proper notice: We must show that the private property owner had an adequate amount of time to fix the hazard after learning about it. The notice could involve someone informing the property owner about a broken sidewalk or the property owner seeing a snowstorm occurring and knowing that snow removal must occur soon.

  • Injuries and damage: Finally, we must show that you suffered some sort of injury from your fall and that you had a financial loss directly related to that injury. This loss could include medical bills, an inability to earn money at work, or some other type of damage.

Call our attorneys at Goodman Acker today to explore your options after a slip and fall accident at 248-286-8100.

Goodman Acker P.C. Helps You Understand Whether You Can Sue If You Fall on Private Property

When you are wondering whether you can sue if you fall on private property, having our team of Detroit slip-and-fall accident lawyers on your side can represent a significant benefit. At Goodman Acker P.C., we can study the facts regarding your injuries during a free case evaluation. Once we understand how the accident occurred, we can help you decide whether we believe you have the ability to win a judgment for your injuries.

If we believe we can help you win your case, trust that we will not back down, even when insurance companies are making the case difficult. We will stand by your side from the time you choose to have us represent you to the conclusion in the case. For a no-obligation consultation regarding your slip and fall case, contact Goodman Acker P.C. today at 248-286-8100.