Winter conditions can make parking lots dangerous places. From slippery snow and ice to fresh potholes, these areas may have safety hazards that cause slips and falls.
Every business, including restaurants, shops, stores, and offices, has a legal duty to ensure their publicly accessible premises, such as parking lots, are safe for pedestrians. If a business fails to do so, it can be held liable for injuries like slips and falls.
If you have fallen and sustained injuries in a business’s parking lot, you may be entitled to compensation from the business owner. The nationally recognized Michigan slip and fall attorneys at Fieger Law are dedicated to fighting for you and your family. Learn what business owners are liable for and how we can help you get the compensation you deserve.
What are the Responsibilities of Business Owners in Michigan?
Business owners in Michigan and most other nationwide jurisdictions have a duty to keep their premises sufficiently safe for guests, customers, licensed individuals, and other people who may use or traverse them.
The legal principle defining these responsibilities is known as the duty of care. Failure to provide reasonable care to people on a business owner’s premises is known as premises liability.
In Michigan, these principles are defined by legal precedent (Moning v. Alfono, 400 Mich 425 (1977)). The business owner’s specific responsibilities depend on the visitor’s classification.
Michigan law defines three visitor classes:
- Invitees: Owed the highest duty of care.
- Licensees: Owed an intermediate duty of care.
- Trespassers: Owed the lowest duty of care.
A typical customer visiting a local store, restaurant, or eatery is categorized as an invitee (as per Kroll v. Katz, 374 Mich 364 (1965)). Business owners owe the highest level of care to this visitor class, with the following duties:
- Duty to inspect: Business owners must regularly check their premises for defects or dangerous situations.
- Duty to warn: Business owners must warn invitees of unsafe conditions they know about.
- Duty to maintain: Business owners must maintain the premises to ensure it is sufficiently safe for traversal.
For example, if the parking lot of a restaurant is covered in snow or ice, it is the restaurant owner’s responsibility to clear it as soon as possible.
They must also warn customers of icy or slippery surfaces they haven’t yet removed. A typical example of a reasonable warning is the usage of “caution” signs, warning that the parking lot may be slippery when icy.
How to Prove Fault in a Premises Liability Case in Michigan
Proving a business owner’s premises liability in Michigan is similar to most other negligence cases: there must be evidence the business owner breached their duty of care.
The process is complex and requires establishing three factors:
- Proving Duty of Care
The first step in a Michigan premises liability case is establishing your visitor class at the time of the incident. This depends on your reasons for visiting the premises.
Example: If you were a customer at a restaurant and sustained injuries from a fall in that restaurant’s parking lot, demonstrating you were a customer establishes your status as an invitee.
- Proving Failure of Duty
The second step is showing proof the business owner failed in the duties relevant to your visitor class.
Example: After proving your status as an invitee, you must establish which of the three duties the business owner has failed to provide. For example, the lack of slippery floor signage may suggest a failure in their duty to warn.
- Proving Injuries
The third and final step is establishing a link between the failure of duty and the injuries you sustained, such as documentation and medical records showing which injuries you suffered.
Example: If you sustained severe sprains or a fracture after the slip and fall, seek medical attention as soon as possible and keep copies of your medical records. They typically contain information a qualified Michigan slip and fall attorney can use to prove the failure of duty directly resulted in your injuries.
How a Slip and Fall Attorney Can Help Your Case
In Michigan, the courts determine whether a business has failed to provide adequate care per the state’s apportionment of fault statute (MCL 600.2957).
If you sustained injuries in a slip and fall in a business’s icy parking lot, your best chance of obtaining the compensation you deserve is to partner with an experienced slip and fall attorney at Fieger Law. We can strengthen your case by:
- Gathering compelling evidence to establish premises liability, such as medical records, police reports, witness statements, security camera footage, photographs, and video footage of the incident.
- Negotiating with the at-fault party’s insurers on your behalf to obtain the maximum settlement amount for you.
- Providing representation and protecting your rights in a court of law.
Contact Fieger Law’s Experienced Slip and Fall Attorneys Today
Proving fault in a premises liability case and obtaining due compensation from a negligent business owner is a challenging ordeal you shouldn’t undertake alone.
If you need experienced and trustworthy representation in Michigan or across the U.S., Fieger Law can help.
Contact our law firm to schedule a free and confidential consultation.