A Michigan slip and fall lawyer can help if you were injured in slip and fall accident. Fall injuries are common in both private and public places. Falls often result in very serious and even fatal injuries.
When a fall is the result of a dangerous or defective condition, the injured person can sue for compensation for the injuries suffered in the fall. These types of cases are known as a premises liability lawsuit and slip and fall lawsuit. In most cases, you will need and experienced slip and fall lawyer to help you with your case. The insurance company for the property owner will usually either deny your claim or offer you a small settlement that does not fairly compensate you for your injury.
Choose the Buckfire Law Firm for Your Slip and Fall Case
The Buckfire Law Firm has served Michigan residents and others injured in the state since 1969. We specialize in cases for slip and fall accidents.
Our family-owned firm has assembled an award-winning team of lawyers and a great support staff that wins among the top settlements in Michigan every year. We will do the same for you.
The respected Martindale-Hubbell service has given us an AV Rating, which is the highest possible rating for skill and integrity in the legal profession. We are named The Best Lawyers In America and Best Lawyers by U.S. News & World Report. Several attorneys are Super Lawyers and are members of the prestigious Million Dollar Advocates Forum.
When you choose us for your case, you will get:
- A team of experienced trial attorneys who specialize in slip and fall cases.
- A dedicated case manager who will work with you and assist the lawyers with your case.
- A firm with the resources and experience to fight the insurance company legal team.
- We have offices in Southfield, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Macomb County, and handle cases in all major cities and counties, including Monroe, Lansing, Saginaw, Flint, Kalamazoo, and Grand Rapids.
- Legal representation under our No-Fee Promise, which means we do not charge you any legal fees unless you get a settlement. We pay all of the case expenses and you will never be asked to give us any money while we work on your case. Our fee gets paid when you receive your check.
What should I do after a Slip and Fall?
Gathering evidence to prove what caused your injury is very important after a slip and fall accident. Many times, the hazard was cleaned up or removed shortly after the incident. The property owner will later denied that a dangerous condition even existed. This is especially true for falls on wet floors in businesses and restaurants or when ice is cleaned up after an injury.
If possible, try to do these things as soon as possible after your accident:
- Take photographs and video of the scene. This is very important because the dangerous condition will be repaired or cleaned up shortly after your fall. Photos are the best way to prove that a hazard existed and caused of your fall. If you are too injured to do it yourself, then ask a friend or even eyewitness to do it for you;
- Fill out an incident report after the fall or as soon as possible afterwards. Incident reports provide written documentation of the incident and are sent to the liability insurance company for the property. Be sure to include all important facts, including what caused you to fall and the pain you felt after the fall. If possible, also take a photograph of your completed report so the business cannot later claim that you did not file one or that the incident never happened;
- Get the names and phone numbers of any eyewitnesses. Eyewitnesses are needed later on if the case goes to court and provide powerful evidence to help win your case;
- Tell the EMS technicians and doctors exactly what caused you to fall. They will often include this information in your medical records. It provides strong admissible evidence when you submit your claim or if it goes to court for a trial;
Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer for my Case?
It is smart to hire a slip and fall lawyer as soon as possible after your fall to gather even more evidence. Our attorneys often hire private investigators to interview witnesses and find other evidence. We also demand that the business owner provide us any video surveillance of the incident. Most businesses have video cameras on the premises. Video tape is automatically deleted after a short period of time, so it is important to demand a copy of the video immediately before it is erased. Videos are often the best evidence to prove liability in your case.
Also, never sign any settlement papers or releases without them being reviewed by an attorney. You may sign away important legal rights to bring claims in the future. You are also required to pay back your health insurer for medical expenses paid on your behalf related to the fall. If you do not notify your health insurer, you may lose your insurance coverage and still must pay back the full amount of the expenses from your settlement amount. This could leave you with no money left for your pain and suffering claim.
Common Places for Fall Injuries
A fall injury accident can happen anywhere, but the most common places outside the home for a fall injury include:
- Stores, malls, and shopping centers
- Hospitals, nursing homes, and medical buildings
- Homes and residences of family and friends
- Apartment and condominium complexes
- Restaurants and cafeterias
- Hotels and motels
- Movie theaters, stadiums, and concert venues
- Health clubs, gyms, and recreational centers
- Schools and colleges, including in gyms and auditoriums
- Airports, bus stations, and train stations
- Workplaces, like factories and manufacturing plants
Frequent Types of Michigan Slip and Fall Accidents
Our slip and fall lawyers have won significant settlements and jury verdicts in Michigan premises liability lawsuits.
The most common types of slip and fall injuries occur due to:
- Falls on ice and snow, including black ice at businesses, residences, hospitals, hotels, schools and apartment complexes in parking lots, on sidewalks, and indoors.
- Defective steps and broken stairways inside buildings and on exterior steps, including deteriorated wooden steps, crumbling cement steps, and broken stairs.
- Missing and broken handrails both inside and outside of a building.
- Water and other substances, like grease, on floors and aisles in stores, restaurants, airports, hospitals, and other businesses.
- Broken, uneven, & raised defective sidewalks on public and private property.
- Defective parking lots & potholes, including broken pavement, cracked cement, raised parking blocks, and other hazards.
- Floors in buildings, malls, and hotels that are too slippery due to excessive wax build-up and poor maintenance.
- Swimming pools and swimming pool decks with excessive slippery tiles.
- Elevator & escalator accidents caused by mechanical defects and wet substances.
- Inadequate lighting and poor lighting make it difficult or impossible to see where you are walking or stepping and causing you to encounter a dangerous condition.
Statistics and Facts About Fall Injuries
According to the Center for Disease Control, the number of falls resulting in injuries is staggering. The fall statistics show that:
- One out of every five falls results in a broken bone or a head injury.
- Over 3 million people are treated in emergency rooms each year for fall injuries.
- More than 800,000 people are hospitalized every year due to injuries from a fall.
- Greater than 95% of all hip fractures are caused by falls.
- Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.
- The total medical costs paid for fall-related treatment totaled more than $ 50 billion in 2015 alone.
The bar graph below shows the number of total falls and fall injuries reported by adults aged 65 years or older from 2015-2016. Each category shows the health status of the individual prior to their fall. The graph shows the most fall injuries happen to individuals with a good health status.
Most Common Injuries from a Slip and Fall Accident?
Falls often result in very serious injuries, especially to the elderly population who cannot protect themselves or catch their balance before striking the ground.
Common fall injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries, closed head injuries, and concussions.
- Brain bleeds and subdural hematomas.
- Broken bones and fractures to the arms, wrists, hands, legs, ankles, and feet.
- Back and neck injuries, including spinal cord injuries, bulging discs, and herniated discs.
- Knee injuries resulting in a torn ACL, MCL, or torn meniscus.
- Shoulder injuries, like a torn rotator cuff.
- Nerve damage.
- Death directly caused by the fall for from other complications.
What is the Law for Michigan Slip and Fall Cases?
Under Michigan law, the owner or possessor of property has a legal duty to make the premises reasonably safe for its guests and business invitees.
The business or property owner can be held liable for recoverable damages if a person is injured due to a dangerous condition on the premises.
In Michigan, the injury victim must prove several elements to win a slip and fall lawsuit. These cases, also known as premises liability, must prove that a defective or dangerous condition existed on the property or business location that caused both the fall and the injuries suffered by the victim.
What is Needed to Prove a Slip and Fall Lawsuit?
To prove and win a slip and fall case, the laws in Michigan require that the injured person provide proof of these five things:
- A dangerous condition existed on the property. This can be proven by witness testimony, photographs, videos, documents such as incident reports and repair records.
- The owner of the property knew or should have known of the condition before the fall. This can be proven by showing that there were previous complaints about the dangerous condition, by a history of previous falls at the same location, or by showing that the condition existed for such a length of time that it should have been known to the owner.
- The person was lawfully on the property either as a social guest or business invitee (not a trespasser).
- The property owner was negligent in the maintenance of the property or failed to repair the condition. Evidence such as repair records, photographs, and video can be used to prove negligent maintenance and repairs on the property.
- The person suffered an injury as a result of the dangerous condition. The injury must be caused by the fall or aggravated by the fall. Medical records and doctor’s testimony are used to prove the cause of the injury.
Slip and Falls on Ice and Snow
Serious injuries are caused every winter due to slip and falls on ice and snow.
The law in Michigan has changed drastically over the last several years making these cases more difficult to win.
Although some lawyers will not take these cases, the Buckfire Law Firm still accepts many icy condition injury clients. We continue our great success in winning great settlements for our clients in ice cases.
Many ice and snow fall injuries occur at apartment complexes or in business parking lots that were not plowed or salted after a storm.
Many times, the property owner should salt even before the winter storm to prevent the buildup of ice and snow before the arrival of the storm. This is especially true in cases involving black ice in which the condition would not be seen upon casual inspection.
A slip and fall lawyer can help win even a difficult liability case. We often hire weather experts and meteorologists to testify on issues relating to these cases. These include when the storm started and stopped and how much time elapsed before the fall injury.
Experts can also testify regarding the effectiveness of salt at the temperatures existing at the time of the incident. These factors are often the difference between winning and losing your case.
Are Slip and Fall Cases Hard to Win in Court?
Like every case, some cases are hard to win and others are very straightforward matters that the parties know in advance will likely settle.
Each case depends on the facts surrounding the fall and the maintenance of the area of the fall, as well as the conduct of the injured person prior to the incident.
Our attorneys will gather all of the evidence, including incident reports, photographs, and surveillance video to prove fault against the defendant.
We will also interview eyewitnesses, subpoena maintenance records, and perform a full investigation to prove negligence against the owner or possessor of the property. This allows us to win a high percentage of slip and fall cases in Michigan.
What are the Defenses in Slip and Fall Lawsuits?
There are many common defenses to slip and fall cases. One is arguing that the injured person was unlawfully on the property, called a trespasser, and therefore no legal duty was owed to the person. Other defenses include that the condition was not unreasonably dangerous or that the owner did not know or have reason to know that the hazard existed prior to the fall incident.
The primary legal defense used in court today is that the hazard was “open and obvious.” This means that the condition was so bad or visible that the injured person should have seen it and avoided the hazard.Depending on the case, some courts can dismiss a case based upon this defense.
However, there are exceptions to the open and obvious defense that can avoid dismissal and result in a settlement for the injury victim. The exceptions include if the condition was unreasonably dangerous then the owner may still be liable.
Similarly, if the injured person could not have avoided the hazard, like taking another route around it, then the case should not be dismissed by the judge. This defense does not apply in specific situations, like injuries that occur when there is a landlord-tenant relationship in an apartment complex.
Does Michigan has Comparative Negligence Laws?
Michigan also has laws of comparative negligence. This means that the defendant can argue that any award to the injured person should be reduced based upon that person’s own negligence. This could include anything from simply not paying attention where one is walking to being intoxicated at the time of the incident.
For example, if a person who knowingly walks on a wet floor in a store and falls, the defense lawyer argues the victim is 30% negligent for the fall. If successfully argued, the defendant is obligated to pay its share of the damages, which would be 70% of the total amount. This type of dividing up the percentage of fault is determined by either a jury or judge presiding over the case.
Should I Speak with the Insurance Adjuster?
You may get a phone call from an insurance adjuster after your report your claim. The insurance company for the property owner will often receive your incident report and then provide it to an insurance adjuster for an investigation. Although the adjuster may seem friendly and helpful, you must know that the insurance company will likely fight your claim.
Adjusters are trained to get you to say things that will ruin your case so you need to be very careful what you say. We strongly suggest that you do not speak to an adjuster without an experienced slip and fall lawyer present. We also recommend that you never agree to give a recorded statement. These statements are used against you later when the company refuses to pay you compensation.
If an adjuster calls you, we suggest that you be polite and simply tell the adjuster to call your lawyer. We recommend that you do not discuss the incident or your injuries or the facts of the accident. You should get the adjuster’s name, telephone number, and claim number so it can documented in your file.
We also suggest that you do not make any settlement demands or sign any papers as these things can permanently damage your case and your ability to win a settlement.
How Much are Slip and Fall Settlement Amounts?
The Michigan laws provide for two separate types of compensation in a slip and fall lawsuit. These are divided into economic damages and non-economic damages, which are also known as personal injury damages. Most cases include both types of damages being paid as part of the settlement.
Personal injury damages include compensation for your pain and suffering, disability, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional injury, and disfiguring scars.
The value of this claim is based largely upon the type of injury caused in the fall and the type of medical treatment needed for the condition. The medical records and your testimony will provide the best understanding of how the incident affected your life.
Economic damages are easier to calculate. We will get all of your medical bills, co-pays, and copies of insurance payments and present those to the insurance company for payment.
If you were disabled from work due to your injuries after a fall, you are entitled to your lost wages for time missed from work.
Claims are also made for loss of income and earnings going into the future if you are unable to return to work or will earn less in the future due to the injuries suffered from the fall accident.
In cases involving a death, we will file a wrongful death lawsuit for the surviving family members. These claims include the pain and suffering endured by the decedent from the time of the fall until death and the loss of society and companionship by surviving family members. Recoverable damages also include the loss of income and support, and funeral and burial expenses.
How Much Money can you Sue for Pain and Suffering?
There is no cap or limit that you can sue for pain and suffering in a slip and fall case. Pain and suffering compensation is a broad category and includes settlement payouts for physical pain, and emotional anguish. Compensation is also paid for fright and shock, embarrassment and humiliation, and denial of social pleasures and enjoyment.
The amount of a pain and suffering award is based on your own particular case. Damages are based on your medical records, your testimony and the testimony of witnesses, and your treating doctor’s testimony. An experienced slip and fall lawyer will build your case so you can get substantial payout for your pain and suffering claim.
Is there an Average Settlement Amount for a Slip and Fall Injury?
It may be possible to calculate an average settlement amount, but it would not provide a real basis for determining the amount of your case. For this reason, there is no “typical” settlement dollar amount or compensation amount. If an insurance adjuster tells you a typical compensation payout amount for your type of case, you should definitely be suspicious of that dollar figure. The adjuster is likely attempting to pay you a small settlement for your case.
The compensation payout amounts are based upon the particular facts of each case. This is because the liability, injuries, medical care, and economic losses are never the same in any two matters. While a settlement calculator would be helpful, unfortunately, it does not exist. A slip and fall lawyer at our firm will evaluate your case and work hard to get the maximum settlement for your case.
Examples of Michigan Slip and Fall Settlements and Verdicts
Below is a list of recent jury verdicts and out of court settlements in slip and fall lawsuits.
- $4,140,000 settlement when a tenant in an apartment building fell to his death died when a guardrail broke and caused him to fall three stories onto a concrete landing.
- $2,305,000 jury verdict against a Flint apartment complex for a tenant injured when a broken handrail caused her to fall down a flight of stairs. She suffered from a broken ankle and required multiple surgeries for the condition.
- $1,175,000 settlement for a fall on dangerous and poorly maintained wooden steps in Pontiac. Our client suffered a spinal cord injury which left him permanently disabled from work.
- $1,500,000 fall injury settlement. The victim sued after he fell through a hole in a second-story floor while restoring a property and became complete paraplegic.
- $1,425,000 jury verdict in Detroit for a woman who suffered a brain injury due to a fall on a wet and freshly mopped floor in a fast-food restaurant. The employee failed to put out the wet floor sign on the slippery tiled floor despite having customers in the restaurant at the time of the cleaning.
- $1,250,000 premises liability settlement. A resident of a Michigan condominium complex sustained severe injuries after falling on a ramp at her time-share condominium.
- $1,100,000 judgment against a Detroit building owner for the estate of a painter who fell through a rotted and deteriorated roof and suffered fatal injuries.
- $450,000 settlement for a woman who fell on a defective sidewalk suffered multiple fractures.
- $350,000 settlement for an elderly woman who sued her apartment complex for a slip and fall on ice that caused a fractured hip
- $250,000 settlement for an injury from a defective doorway entrance in Macomb County.
- $195,000 settlement for a man who slipped and fell on a wet floor in a hospital and suffered a fractured hip.
- $150,000 settlement for a woman who tripped over a raised steel anchor on a parking lot block and suffered a broken right arm.
Do Most Cases go to Trial or Settle Out of Court?
The majority of personal injury cases do not go to trial. Most cases result in out of court settlements that occur at mediation or through settlement discussions with the insurance company either before or after a lawsuit is filed. In fact, less than 5% of all cases have a trial by a judge or jury.
However, if the insurance company does not offer you a fair settlement then you can take the case to trial. Our attorneys win significant personal injury settlements at trial.
How Long do you have to Sue for a Michigan Slip and Fall Case?
Under Michigan law, you have three years from the date of the fall to file a lawsuit. This is known as the “statute of limitations.”
If you miss this deadline, your case will be barred forever and you will not receive compensation. The period can be extended if the injury victim is a minor child, but it is still best to file within that three year period.
For fall injuries that occur on governmental property, like defective sidewalks or at government buildings, a plaintiff is required to provide a written notice to the governmental agency within 120 days of the incident. The notice must specify the exact location and nature of the defect, the injuries sustained, and any known witnesses. The failure to provide this written notice will bar your claims even if a defective condition caused you harm.
It is important to contact a slip and fall lawyer as soon as possible after your injury. Waiting until the last minute makes it difficult to get the evidence needed to win your case.
Get the Best Michigan Slip and Fall Lawyer
The slip and fall lawyer that you choose for your case is the difference between winning a great settlement or nothing at all.
Our award-winning law firm has won the top personal injury settlements and verdicts in Michigan for over fifty years and we can do the same for you today.
It’s easy to start your case. Just call us today and speak with our team of legal experts. We will listen to your story and let you know how we can help you.
We do not charge any legal fees to represent you in your case. We only get paid a fee when you receive a settlement. And, we pay all of the case expenses and costs. It costs nothing to start your case and if you do not receive a settlement, you owe us nothing. We put that in writing for you!
- 29000 Inkster Road
Southfield, MI 48034
- Phone: (248) 595-7544
- 19 Clifford St.
Suite 805 Merchants Row
Detroit, MI 48226
- Phone: (313) 992-8281
- 1001 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, MI 48226
- Phone: (313) 777-8482
- 343 S. Main Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
- Phone: (734) 888-3003
- 51424 Van Dyke Ave
Shelby Township, MI 48316
- Phone: (586) 250-2626