A slip-and-fall accident in a store is more than just an unexpected mishap — it’s a deeply unsettling event that leaves physical and emotional scars. Victims not only grapple with immediate pain, but they’re also thrust into a whirlwind of mounting medical expenses, potential loss of income, and sleepless nights worrying about the future.
The question of the store’s responsibility looms large, and the labyrinth of insurance claims seems insurmountable. Every step feels like a battle against an uncaring system, adding to the distress and vulnerability.
Hiring a Michigan slip-and-fall attorney can help alleviate the mounting stress of navigating the complex terrain of a slip-and-fall case. The compassionate attorneys at Matz Injury Law understand your concerns and want to help you through this difficult time. To obtain a free consultation from one of our fall accident lawyers, contact our personal injury law firm at 1-866-22Not33.
Experiencing a slip-and-fall incident in a store is a sudden and unexpected injury. When it occurs, it might be hard to take focus away from the immediate aftermath and think about the next steps. It is important to take the following actions as soon as possible because they will prove highly valuable if you file a personal injury case.
After the injury, take photographs and video of the accident scene as soon as possible. This is an essential step because chances are high that any hazards will be cleaned up quickly. Photos provide valuable evidence that a dangerous condition was present and led to your fall. If you are too injured to take photos, ask a family member, friend, or eyewitness to do it.
Incident reports at commercial entities are taken after an accident. Fill one out as quickly as you can after your fall. Doing so ensures written documentation so the insurance company can see the incident occurred. Include details like the time and date, the hazard that caused your fall, and the injuries you sustained due to the conditions present at the store. Make a copy or take a photo of your completed report. This way, you have definitive proof you filled one out, and you can present a copy if the defense suggests an incident never occurred.
To help prove an injury, get any eyewitnesses’ names and contact information. Their testimony will be helpful if your case goes to court. Usually, eyewitness testimony is very strong evidence to support a slip-and-fall lawsuit.
Even if you initially feel fine, be sure to get an examination by a healthcare provider. If EMS services are on the scene, describe in detail to them what caused your fall. The same thing goes if you see a doctor after the incident. Any treatment providers who examine you can include these details in your medical records. Medical records are strong evidence to support your case when settling a claim or going to trial.
Lastly, do not give any statements to anyone associated with the store before speaking with an experienced Michigan personal injury attorney. Also, do not sign anything a store or insurance representative asks you to sign. It is common for individuals with a financial stake to downplay, deny, or pass blame when an injury occurs. Even those who may appear concerned are not on your side. Instead, speak to a lawyer who will advocate for your best interests. Never depend on the perceived compassion of a business owner, store manager, or insurance representative.
When walking through a store or perusing aisles, you do not expect to experience a fall and suddenly sustain serious injuries. Yet, sadly, it happens, and injuries occur. Here are some of the most common causes of slip-and-fall accidents in Michigan stores.
Wet floors may be present due to having been recently cleaned. They also occur when rain, snow, or ice is tracked in during stormy conditions. It is a store’s responsibility to keep a safe environment, and if they neglect to monitor wet floors, they can be held liable.
Machines such as escalators and elevators need to be inspected and properly maintained to keep up with safety standards. They also should be consistently cleaned to ensure they are free of wet substances so someone does not slip and get hurt. Sometimes, these machines have mechanical defects, which can cause injury. In these cases, you may be able to make a claim against the manufacturer.
Most stores are typically well-lit, but occasionally, interior or exterior areas of commercial businesses have blown light bulbs or inadequate lighting, leading a patron to unexpectedly slip or fall because they could not see potential hazards.
Stores are responsible for keeping floors clean, clear, and in good condition. Torn carpets, ripped tiles, crumbling cement steps, faulty steps, and broken stairways are all potential causes of slip-and-fall accidents. Any of these can lead to serious injury.
When aisles or other floor surfaces in a store are littered with debris, someone can trip. Debris can include boxes, merchandise, equipment, tools, extension cords, and other items left on the floor. The store has a duty to keep store surfaces free of trip hazards or at least provide a warning a hazard is present.
Other store areas that can cause injuries include improperly maintained walkways, sidewalks, parking lots, steps, and handrails. Sadly, neglecting just one area of a store can lead to severe injuries such as broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and soft tissue injuries.
Insurance adjusters are notorious for trying to settle for small amounts or avoid paying any compensation. When you speak with them, they will typically be friendly and try to gain your trust so they can get more information out of you, hoping to use what you say against you. Always remember that insurance adjusters are not your friends, and they do not care about your well-being. Their job is to make sure you get little or no money. Instead, let your Michigan personal injury lawyer do all the talking with adjusters.
If you fall in a store in Michigan, you may be able to seek compensation, but it will be up to you to prove the accident was not your fault. To do so, you must demonstrate the following four items.
The owner or possessor of the Michigan store has a duty to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition. You must show you had a right to be in the store and were not a trespasser. Since stores are open to the public, this is generally established as long as you were present during regular business hours, stayed in customer-allowed areas, or otherwise were invited inside the store or area where you got hurt.
You must show the property owner or possessor breached their duty by allowing a dangerous condition to exist, and they either knew or should have known about it. Essentially, you must prove the property owner was negligent in maintaining the property and did not act with reasonable care.
As an injury victim, you must show the possessor or property owner’s negligence directly caused your accident and injuries. This means your injuries resulted from the slip-and-fall accident caused by the owner’s breach of duty.
You suffered actual harm or injury from the slip and fall. This can be physical, emotional, or financial. If you cannot prove this, moving forward with your case will be very difficult.
Michigan law stipulates certain premises liability factors. To prove a claim, you must also not be at fault for the injury, as this could diminish the value of your case.
Michigan follows a modified comparative negligence system. If you are found to be partially at fault for your slip-and-fall accident, your compensation will be reduced by the percentage of your fault. However, you may not recover any damages if you are more than 50% at fault.
The open and obvious doctrine was recently challenged in the Michigan Supreme Court. The new Michigan Supreme Court case had overturned the precedent set by a prior case known as “Lugo.” Lugo stood for the proposition that a landowner did not owe a duty to a licensee or invitee to protect them from open and obvious hazards. Under the open and obvious doctrine, defendants in slip-and-fall cases could ask the judge to dismiss the case because the hazard was open and obvious to the plaintiff. Whether the property owner has a legal duty to protect invitees from open and obvious dangers is a question for the judge.
Now that Lugo has been overturned, the open and obvious defense is less likely to be used to dismiss a slip-and-fall lawsuit. Under Michigan premises liability law, a landowner has a duty to keep the premises free from hazards. If someone is injured due to open and obvious hazards on someone else’s premises, the jury will now decide how much of what happened was the plaintiff’s fault. If the plaintiff is deemed 50% or more at fault, they cannot recover anything. If the plaintiff is deemed less than 50% at fault, the damages will be calculated based on the percentage of fault the defendant is found to be. If damages are $1,000,000 and the defendant was 75% at fault, the plaintiff will be entitled to recover $750,000.
As with any legal matter, the specifics are intricate and vary based on the individual case. If you or someone you know has experienced a slip and fall, it is crucial to consult with a Michigan-based personal injury attorney to get guidance tailored to your specific circumstances.
If you suffered an injury due to a store’s negligence and are seeking to file a suit, you should move as quickly as possible. While Michigan carries a three-year statute of limitations from the date of the accident, it takes time to gather evidence and assemble a case. You do not want to miss important deadlines inadvertently. Starting earlier than later also gives your attorney more time to build a strong case and refute any claims the defense uses in an attempt to place blame for your injuries on you.
Compensation for a Michigan slip-and-fall accident will not be the same in every premises liability claim. Compensation in a premises liability case is typically determined by any direct economic losses you suffered, such as medical bills, lost wages, loss of future wages, and other calculable losses. Intangible non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering or emotional anguish, can also be factored into your compensation claim.
No two slip-and-fall cases will be exactly the same, so the probability of winning a personal injury claim against a Michigan store will depend upon the location, the fall itself, and the maintenance of the area where the incident occurred. Some injury lawsuits will be difficult to win. In contrast, others will be easier, especially if the proof is indisputable, making it hard for the defense to use typical arguments to dismiss hazardous conditions and blame the victim.
Matz Injury Law has served Michigan accident victims for decades. Our caring personal injury attorneys have logged hundreds of thousands of miles traveling throughout Michigan to speak to injured persons and help them fight back against negligent parties. To date, we’ve earned more than $300 million for our clients.
When you work with our slip-and-fall injury attorneys, we pledge to stand with you and fight hard on your behalf. The attorney-client relationship is very important to us. You will always work with a partner when you work with Matz Injury Law. Insurance adjusters will never advocate for you, but our law firm will prioritize your case so you can get the fair settlement you need to recover and move forward.
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.
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.
At a typical television advertising law firm, your first call will be handled by a receptionist, who may refer you to an intake person, who will discuss your claim with an intake manager, who then discusses your claim with an associate, who may then report to a partner. You may never speak with the person whose name is at the top of the letterhead. At Matz Injury Law you will always speak with either Steven Matz or Jared Matz.