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Detroit Personal Injury Blog

Winter Slip and Fall Accidents

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February 6th, 2017

Michigan’s temperatures have been above average throughout the state this winter. But even with temperatures above normal, winter in Michigan brings an almost daily chance of encountering snow and ice. The risk often continues even into the first few weeks of spring.

With snow and ice comes slippery conditions for walking and a very high risk of a slip and fall accident. Michigan’s law regarding property owner liability for winter slip and fall accidents has recently made it more difficult for plaintiffs, which makes it more important than ever to have an experienced Detroit personal injury lawyer working for you to make sure you are compensated for the injuries you sustain.

Call Davis Injury Lawyers today at (313) 364-8970 to find out how we can help you.

The Open and Obvious Rule

In general, property owners are responsible for keeping their locations reasonably safe. However, the liability of a landowner may be limited by the “open and obvious” rule. The rule follows the reasoning that a landowner does not have a duty to protect or warn others on the property of dangers that are open and obvious because if they are obvious hazards a visitor should be expected to take reasonable measures to avoid the danger.

The law does make two exceptions to the rule if there are special aspects to the open and obvious risk. The first exception is if the obvious risk is unreasonably dangerous, meaning that it creates an inexcusably high risk of harm. The second exception to the open and obvious rule is if the obvious hazard is effectively unavoidable. In both situations, the landowner should have addressed the dangerous risk and provided a safe environment to visitors.

Open and Obvious Hazards in Winter

The Michigan Supreme Court directly addressed the hazards of snow and ice as applied to the open and obvious rule in 2012 with its decision in Hoffner v. Lanctoe. In that case, the plaintiff slipped and fell on a patch of ice directly in front of the only entrance to the fitness club where she was a paid member, suffering an injury to her back. The plaintiff argued that although the ice was an open and obvious hazard it was effectively unavoidable because it was directly in front of the only entrance to the fitness club. The Michigan Supreme Court dismissed the claim, stating that the ice in front of the fitness club did not meet either of the special aspect exceptions.

Since snow and ice are to be expected in Michigan in the winter, the ice patch did not create a risk of harm that was so unreasonably high that it was inexcusable. Additionally, even though the ice was directly in front of a fitness club where she was a paid member it was not effectively unavoidable because the plaintiff had the option of not entering the building.

Winter Slip and Fall Lawsuits

The Hoffner decision makes it more difficult to recover for your injuries if you slip and fall on someone else’s property in the winter. Since snow and ice during Michigan winters are not generally viewed as unreasonably dangerous, it will require special circumstances for snow and ice accumulations to create an unreasonable risk of harm and meet the special aspect exception to the open and obvious rule.

How a Detroit Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

Even though Michigan law makes it harder to recover for injuries that are sustained because of a winter slip and fall accident it does not mean that your case cannot be won. A knowledgeable Michigan personal injury attorney will understand when a property owner should be held liable for your injuries and will know how to show the courts that it fits the exceptions to the open and obvious rule.

Detroit personal injury lawyer Maurice Davis has years of experience representing clients who have sustained personal injuries in all manner of situations, including winter slip and fall accidents. If you’ve been injured due to a fall on snow or ice, contact Davis Injury Lawyers today at (313) 462-7979 or to learn how we can help you.