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Personal Liability vs. Premises Liability in Michigan

Steven Matz
November 10, 2023 | Premise Liability

Understanding The Difference Between Premises Liability And Personal Liability

Liability is a crucial aspect of any Michigan personal injury case, but determining liability is not always easy. In fact, the liability laws in Michigan can be particularly difficult to navigate without help from an experienced personal injury attorney. One of the central challenges is determining the difference between personal liability and premises liability. If you slip on ice on a sidewalk or on someone’s private property, who is ultimately liable? Finding the answer to this question adds stress when all you want is to focus on recovering from your injuries.

Severe injuries can add further complexity, making it much more difficult to deal with legal issues while medical bills and lost wages accumulate. Without a working knowledge of Michigan’s liability laws, you may miss out on potential compensation. Take a closer look at the key differences between personal liability and premises liability, and discover how the attorneys at Matz Injury Law can help.

What is Premises Liability in Michigan?

Premises liability is when a property owner is negligent in maintaining their property, and that negligence causes injury to someone else. The injury could stem from faulty equipment at an amusement park, a wet floor at a grocery store, or broken stairs at a private residence. In any instance where a dangerous condition at a property leads to an injury, premises liability comes into play. In these instances, the owner of the property where you fell is liable because they did not exercise reasonable care.

Premises liability also considers whether the injured person had permission to be on the property when they were hurt. Specifically, the injured party would have to be on the property legally as a licensee or invitee rather than as a trespasser. Additionally, the law considers how reasonable it is for the injured party to be on the lookout for the kind of unsafe condition that caused their injury.

Is Premises Liability the Same as Personal Liability

No, premises liability is a unique kind of liability that solely refers to negligence concerning a piece of property. Negligence is a failure of someone to provide the duty of care they are responsible for extending to someone else. For example, you have a duty of care to drive safely when behind the wheel to help prevent injuries to other drivers. If you do not drive safely and violate the law, such as by speeding, you could be considered negligent if you cause an accident and injure someone else or damage property.

Personal Liability

General negligence occurs through the defendant’s actions regardless of whether or not a piece of property is involved. While premises liability is a kind of negligence, it is far more specific than general negligence.

Premises Liability

Premises liability stems from someone’s failure to meet their duty of care regarding the upkeep of their property. Take a grocery store, for example. If you slip and fall in a grocery store due to a wet floor with no wet floor sign, the store can be held liable for any injuries you suffered. This is because it is their responsibility to provide a shopping environment that is safe for customers.

What is Personal Liability in Michigan?

Personal liability in Michigan is when anyone’s negligence causes harm to someone else. One of the most common examples of this is a car accident in which one driver was responsible and the other driver suffered injuries. The responsible driver would be personally liable for damages caused by the accident.

One of the most important differences between personal liability and premises liability is that personal liability typically does not require the same degree of evidence. For personal liability, you have to demonstrate that the defendant acted negligently and that their negligence led to your injuries. For a premises liability lawsuit, however, you would have to show that the property owner acted negligently in their property upkeep and that the state of their property led to the accident in which you suffered injuries. That extra step regarding property makes premises liability a bit tougher to prove.

What Types of Cases Usually Fall Under Personal Liability in Michigan?

Personal liability cases can take many forms across the state, but the following are some of the most common that we see:

If you have been hurt in an accident in Michigan, schedule a free consultation with Matz Injury Law to learn about your options for compensation.

Common Types of Premises Liability Cases in Michigan

pedestrian stepping over a broken sidewalk

Premises liability cases center around a poorly maintained piece of property on which someone suffers an injury. Specifically, the property owner may not have fulfilled their legal duty to keep it in a reasonably safe condition. These are the most common types of conditions involved in premises liability cases:

  • Obstructed walkways
  • Uneven floors
  • Icy surfaces
  • Unstable railings
  • Damaged carpets
  • Dog bites
  • Wet floors
  • Potholes in parking lots

Who Can Be Held Liable in a Premises Liability Claim?

In Michigan, the liable party in a premises liability claim can vary based on the specific situation. In most circumstances, however, it is the owner of the property. If the property invites people onto it, it is up to the owner to ensure that the property is maintained to a reasonable degree to avoid injuring the invitees. If there are any dangers on the property that the owner is aware of but hasn’t yet repaired, they must warn all visitors of the danger. Note that any property open for commercial purposes is considered a standing invitation for visitors.

How is Compensation Determined in Premise Liability Claims

There are some instances where the injured person may be partially responsible for the accident. In these scenarios, Michigan uses a comparative negligence standard in which an injured party may only recover damages based on the percentage of responsibility they have for the accident. For example, suppose there is an accident where the injured person is 10% responsible while the owner of the property is responsible for 90%. If the claimant sustained $100,000 worth of damages, they would only be able to recover $90,000 in compensation.

Michigan’s Premises Liability Law

The state of Michigan used to operate under the open and obvious doctrine, which dictated that a landowner did not have a duty to warn about obvious dangers a reasonable person would be expected to see. Recently, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in favor of changes to this standard. While the doctrine is still technically in effect, the approach to premises liability cases has changed.

Instead of being thrown out by default, cases that involve the open and obvious doctrine can now go to a jury. This offers claimants more opportunity to argue their case and gives their Michigan premises liability lawyer an opportunity to argue on their client’s behalf. However, just because the case goes before a jury does not necessarily mean the claimant will receive compensation. The jury will still decide the case on a comparative negligence standard in which the injured party is assigned a percentage of responsibility for the accident.

Benefits of Hiring a Michigan Premises Liability Attorney

injury victim shaking hands with their lawyer

If you or a loved one are injured on another person’s property or a commercial property whose owner failed to meet their duty of care, you will want to have a premises liability attorney on your side. We can help navigate the case for you while you focus on recovery. An attorney allows you to get a more accurate accounting of your injuries, including medical bills, lost wages, and more. These cases require extensive knowledge of the law, and a personal injury lawyer will use every legal route to help get you the fair compensation you need in the wake of an accident.

A major aspect of any premises liability case is gathering evidence, and a lawyer will be particularly adept at getting the evidence you need. We can secure statements from witnesses, obtain a police report or incident report, and obtain security video footage. Evidence gathering can be tough on your own when you are more concerned with recovery, so hiring a Michigan premises liability attorney can help protect your rights without compromising the healing process.

Negotiation skills can also play a major role in your case. With a lawyer by your side, you will be equipped to deal with common tactics from insurance companies and other lawyers. These can include delaying requested documentation, refusing to pay in a timely manner, or refusing to investigate or acknowledge your claim whatsoever. A skilled Michigan premises liability lawyer is especially necessary when dealing with government entities in lawsuits, as there are special laws concerning negligence and premises liability on government property.

Injured Due to a Slip-and-Fall in Michigan?

If you suffered a slip-and-fall accident in Michigan or any other premises liability case, Matz Injury Law is happy to help. Our Southfield law firm knows that all you want to focus on after an accident is getting better, so we strive to let you do just that. Our experienced attorneys will take care of the legal issues related to your slip-and-fall accident while you care for your health. Legal issues can be stressful, and the complex laws surrounding premises liability are especially burdensome. You don’t have to face this alone. Contact us at 1-866-22Not33 or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation.

steven matz headshot

Written By Steven Matz

Founding Shareholder

Steven J. Matz is a founding shareholder of Matz Injury Law. The firm’s concentration is on personal injury litigation, with an emphasis on traumatic brain injury.

The maximum contingency fee permitted by law is actually 331/3%. Michigan court rules require that the attorney fee be computed on the net sum recovered after deducting all disbursements properly chargeable to the enforcement of the claim.

What does 22not33 mean, exactly?

We can charge 22% while virtually all other injury attorneys charge 331/3% because we are very, very, good at obtaining results for our clients.

We do not spend millions of dollars on television ads; instead, we offer a lower fee to all our clients. We do not have dozens of lower paid associates handling our work. All our clients are represented by Steven and Jared Matz. Steven Matz started the firm in 1977 and since then has dedicated his life to representing injury victims. Jared joined the firm in 2016 but grew up listening to stories, discussing theories, and generally learning at the dinner table about how to effectively and compassionately represent injury victims. Jared Matz was literally born to represent individuals involved in motor vehicle crashes.

All of our cases are handled on a contingency fee and all our cases are handled at 22%. Whether the case settles or goes through trial, the fee does not change. While our competitors make excuses as to why they charge so much, we are obtaining results for our clients at a lower fee.

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