Premises Liability *

In General

Michigan’s premises liability “common law” has been changed drastically in recent years by Supreme Court rulings.  The Court now views many hazardous conditions as “open and obvious” (even if the client is blind) and it has limited most traditional types of liability.  Success depends on the client’s true story being presented – it is important to report an injury to a premises owner, but not to give a statement to an insurance representative until you understand your rights. The statute of limitations for injuries caused by unsafe premises is generally 3 years, although there are exceptions.

Malfunctioning Electric Door: $450,000 settlement

An 80 year old man entering a grocery store was pinned by a malfunctioning electric door, which broke his leg.  We obtained maintenance records and witness statements about past problems with the door.

“Big Box” Store Merchandise Falls Off Shelf:  $387,000 settlement

The client suffered a low back injury when a bale of insulation fell off the shelf striking him.  He was not disabled from work, but tests confirmed “soft-tissue” injury.

Rental Truck Tailgate: $175,000 verdict

A “big box” department store rented the client a truck to move gardening goods he had purchased.  When the client was unloading the truck, one of the side panels collapsed, causing him to fall.  He had a badly broken wrist.  The fault was due to the fact the store had wrongly latched the side panel.

Ice Falls off Rental Building Roof: $145,000 settlement during trial

What at first seemed like a common, simple hazard in Northern Michigan proved to be an unsafe condition the owner had been asked to remove.  An “ice dam” in the eaves fell and struck the client, causing a broken leg.  The key to this case – especially because of recent Court rulings, was to show the landlord had been asked to fix the problem. 

Slip and Fall – Two Clients – at Shopping Mall: $509,000 settlement

The snowplow contractor piled the snow in a mall parking lot, and periodically the ice would melt and drain across a walkway.  Ice formed so badly that a client slipped and fractured her leg, and a Good Samaritan who tried to help also slipped, hitting her head and suffering a closed head injury.  We sued the store owner and the contractor.  The key to this case was site-inspection and eye-witness testimony from numerous sources.

Septic Tank Handle Trips Woman: $425,000 settlement

A slight hazard caused a woman to fall and suffer serious knee injury at a local business.  The key to the case was a key we often find – the business owner told one story and the employees told another story, when asked about prior knowledge of the problem.  We proved the problem had been known.

Child Bitten by Visiting Dog: $100,000 verdict

The mother’s boyfriend’s dog bit the child on the face twice, requiring stitches the second time.  The grand-mother acted as the child’s conservator, and we obtained a verdict and arranged for the money to be preserved for the child.

* These premises liability cases are chosen from many more, to illustrate some of the variety of the issues we have dealt with.

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