//not the thank-you page Changes To Michigan's Premises Liability Law | An Explanation
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Changes to Michigan Premises Liability Laws


Personal Injury Results






Are you familiar with Michigan premises liability laws? Did you know changes may be coming to the “open and obvious” standard that has been used for years? Property owners and others need to be aware of the changes that may occur so they can properly prepare and ensure their property is free from hazards that may result in accidents or injuries.

Keep in mind, though, that if you experience an injury in a slip and fall accident while visiting someone else’s property, you may have the right to recover compensation. Hiring an experienced premises liability attorney is the best way to protect your rights and ensure you get the compensation you deserve.

Michigan’s Stance on Slip and Fall Liability

For the past 20 years, the court system in Michigan has ruled that individuals who slip and fall on snow or ice have no or minimal right to recover compensation from the landowner for the injuries they sustain.

The reason for this is that hazards created by ice and snow are considered “open and obvious.” Because of this, the property owner did not have a duty to warn guests or visitors about the conditions.

Usually, a lawsuit seeking recovery for an injury caused by a slip and fall accident on sidewalks or in parking lots has been dismissed by trial or in appellate courts because of the “open and obvious” defense. This states that ice and snow are dangers that are apparent to all and, because of this, no remedial measures or warnings are required to be taken by property owners.

An example would be if someone was going to a grocery store and slipped and fell on ice while walking into the store. Unfortunately, in this case, it would be impossible to sue the parking lot’s owner because they didn’t remove ice or snow, nor did they salt the area.

Now, though, there is an exception to the “open and obvious” defense that can be used in the appellate courts of Michigan.

The New Way to Fight the “Open and Obvious” Defense in Michigan

Recently, the Court of Appeals in Michigan has created a narrow exception for the “open and obvious” defense in premises liability cases (like slip and fall accidents).

This exception was created after a case seen in Court on February 10, 2022 (Estate of Brenda Bowman v. Larry Walker and Rodney Lauderdale). In this case, the Court established that there was a “special aspect” in place for tenants who needed to go to work but who lacked the ability to leave their apartment safely to go to work because of ice and snow on the ground of the rental property. In the case, the Court determined that the apartment complex was possibly liable, with no regard to the “open and obvious” defense.

According to the Court’s ruling, since Michigan is prone to winter conditions and weather, it’s reasonable that many businesses will stay open even during these conditions. Because of this, landlords can’t expect that all tenants’ employers will allow them to remain at home on snowy or icy days. Because of this, it’s also reasonable to accept that individuals will come across obvious or known dangers for reasons related to their employment. Because of this, open and obvious hazards may be unavoidable if the employee must go through them to get to work.

Changing the Rules for Slip and Fall Accidents in Michigan

The recent decisions made by the Michigan Court of Appeals and Michigan Supreme Court have brought to light a new exception to the decades-old “open and obvious” defense for premises liability cases. It has also helped to change the rules regarding many personal injury cases.

If you slip and fall while attempting to get to work, you may have a cause of action. This is something that did not exist before 2021 (except in limited circumstances). With the current make-up of the Supreme Court in Michigan, it’s expected that more exceptions -- and even the potential elimination of the open and obvious defense -- could occur.

How to Protect Your Rights After a Slip and Fall Accident

Even in situations where the “open and obvious” standard would come into play, you should take steps to protect your rights. This may be even more important in the future as the laws and regulations around slip and fall accidents and premises liability cases, in general, are changing in Michigan.

Get Medical Attention

Every slip and fall accident is unique. The injuries you experience depend on the circumstances around the fall and your current state of health and age. Some injuries won’t be apparent right away. If they aren’t treated, the injuries will get worse and may pose a serious risk to your health and well-being. It’s important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible after a slip and fall accident to find issues and establish documentation of the injuries you sustained.

Take Photos of the Scene and Your Injuries

One of the most powerful and persuasive types of evidence you can have in your slip and fall case is photographs. Be sure to capture photos of the area where you fell and the injuries you sustained. The attorney you hire can use these to better understand what happened and help your case. 

Gather Evidence

It’s important to find and acquire evidence that may help your claim. Some of the types of evidence you should collect include:

  • Video surveillance from the area

  • History of code violations or prior accidents in the area or store

  • Medical records and treatment costs

  • Proof of lost wages.

You need to hang on to all documentation related to your accident. All this may be beneficial in proving your claim and the amount of compensation you deserve for the injuries you sustained because of the slip and fall accident.

Gather Witness Information

If anyone witnessed what happened, ask them for their contact information. Your attorney can get in touch with these individuals to use their statements as part of your defense.

Hire an Experienced Premises Liability Attorney to Help with Your Case

Changes are coming to premises liability laws in Michigan. For victims, this is great news. In the past, those who fell, tripped, or slipped on ice or snow on someone else’s property had no recourse to recover compensation. To date, there has been an exception introduced in the Court, with more changes predicted in the near future.

If you have been injured in a premises liability accident, hiring an attorney is the best way to ensure your rights are protected and that you have the best chance for a successful outcome for your case. If you need legal representation for your case or situation, contact us by calling 248-286-8100.