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A SLIP AND FALL INCIDENT REPORT being filled out by an attorney

The Michigan Supreme Court has restored vital protections to slip and fall victims under the Michigan premises liability law, recognizing their rights to hold property owners accountable and legally liable for the injuries or deaths caused by dangerous or hazardous conditions or defects that they negligently failed to protect visitors against.

The ruling by the state’s high court was important because it reinstates the previous law that protected slip and fall and trip and fall victims for decades by removing the misplaced immunity that negligent and/or careless property owners previously had for more than 20 years when the dangerous condition or hazard on their property was deemed to be “open and obvious.”

In Kandil-Elsayed vs. F&E Oil, Inc., and Pinsky vs. Kroger Company of Michigan, the Michigan Supreme Court clarified several important legal aspects of Detroit premises liability law as it pertains to “invitees” or customers, i.e., people invited onto another person’s property to shop or otherwise conduct business:

  • Property owners have “a duty to exercise reasonable care to protect invitees from an unreasonable risk of harm caused by a dangerous condition of the land.”
  • Property owners are not relieved of their duty to protect just because a dangerous condition on their land might be determined to be “open and obvious.”
  • “Open and obvious” dangers, defects or hazardous conditions do not provide property owners with immunity from liability.
  • When a defect, dangerous condition or hazard can be characterized as “open and obvious,” a property owners have a duty to “anticipate the harm” that could befall invitees from the defect, hazard or dangerous condition on their premises.
  • People are safer now that the Detroit premises liability law is aligned with the rest of the country after the Michigan Supreme Court’s ruling in Kandil-Elsayed vs. F&E Oil, Inc., and Pinsky vs. Kroger Company of Michigan.
  • No longer will property owners be able to readily escape being held liable and accountable in a slip and fall lawsuit by blaming slip and fall victims for not avoiding dangerous conditions and hidden dangers they never saw and knew nothing about.

The 3-year Michigan slip and fall statute of limitations is unchanged by the Michigan Supreme Court’s ruling.

Other aspects of the law were not changed by the ruling either.

The categorization of individuals as invitees, licensees, or trespassers becomes crucial in discerning the level of the duty of care owed by the property owner.

An invitee is someone invited onto the owner’s premises primarily for the owner’s benefit, usually for business purposes. The owner owes them the highest duty of care and must inspect the property regularly for potential hazards and either warn the invitee or fix the issue.

A licensee, on the other hand, is someone permitted on the property for their purposes or pleasure, like social guests. For licensees, property owners are required to warn or rectify only the dangers they are aware of.

A trespasser is defined as an individual who enters upon another’s property without the consent of the owner or the individual in possession of the property. As compared to invitees or licensees, trespassers are afforded the lowest level of care under these laws. The landowner owes no duty of care to trespassers except that a property must refrain from engaging in willful and wanton misconduct to injure trespassers.

Under Michigan law, the key issues in premises liability claims are possession and control, and notice and knowledge of the dangerous condition.

Possession and control: The plaintiff must prove that the defendant had control over the property and the site of the accident. In rented properties, the tenant might have control and therefore be liable, depending on the agreement with the landlord.

Notice and knowledge of the dangerous condition: The plaintiff must establish that the defendant knew, or should reasonably have known, about the dangerous condition.

In conclusion, Michigan premises liability law places different responsibilities on property owners towards invitees and licensees. Understanding these legal nuances is essential in pursuing a premises liability claim. To find out how the change in the Detroit premises liability law will help you, talk with an experienced premises liability lawyer at Michigan Slip And Fall Lawyers.


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