A sidewalk slip and fall accident happens when a dangerous condition causes an individual to trip, slip, or experience injuries. The causes of sidewalk slip and fall include road cracks, raised concrete, tree roots, wet leaves, debris, and dirt. Bad weather conditions and poor maintenance can also contribute to such an incident.
Unfortunately, more than eight million people visit the hospital due to slip and fall accidents. These incidents can lead to brain injuries, bone fractures, and soft tissue damage. Understanding Michigan slip and fall laws is important to seek fair compensation from responsible parties. You can recover damages from the government or landowners, depending on the situation.
Obligations of Municipalities and Property Owners
Section 691.1402a of the Michigan Compiled Laws states that local governments shall maintain the sidewalks in their respective areas. For instance, cities and municipalities shall consider the following:
- Reseal sidewalks to extend their lifespan
- Repair chips and indentations to prevent further damage
- Keep sidewalks free from heavy equipment to avoid long-term damage
Moreover, Rule 928 of the Michigan Administrative Code mandates developers to maintain the sidewalks for the safety and convenience of the community. Some requirements include the following:
- Sidewalks must have a minimum width of three feet
- The developers must construct sidewalks that are accessible to persons with disabilities
Proprietors may also be responsible for maintaining sidewalks. For example, the landowners in the City of Detroit shall clean the sidewalk next to their property. They can do the following to keep the sidewalks’ clean:
- Remove leaves and other debris which can cause slip and fall accidents
- Get rid of snow to prevent slippery sidewalks
Proving Negligence in Sidewalk Slip and Fall Cases
A slip and fall attorney can help establish the elements of negligence to strengthen your case, which include:
- Defendant’s legal duty to the plaintiff;
- Breach of the duty;
- Plaintiff’s injury; and
- The connection between the violation and injury.
It’s essential to prove each element before the court. To establish the first element, you must show the local government or property owner’s duty to maintain the sidewalk. For example, your lawyer can invoke Section 691.1402a of the Compiled Laws, Rule 928 of the Administrative Code, or an applicable city ordinance.
Next, you can gather evidence to prove the violation of duty. Dated pictures and videos can show dirt, debris, snow, or cracks on the sidewalk. You can also ask for the residents’ testimony to verify your claims. In addition, your lawyer can help you access repair records if you’re demanding compensation from the government.
You must also show the extent of your injuries. The following documents can help you establish the third element:
- Medical records
- Police report
- Medical bills
Lastly, the defendant’s negligence must directly cause the slip and fall accident. A sample scenario involves Person B, who suffered broken bones from the raised sidewalks Municipality C failed to repair. In this case, the failure to repair directly caused Person B’s injuries.
Aside from these elements, you must also file your claim within Michigan’s statute of limitations, which is three years after the injury occurred. Otherwise, the court will not entertain your case.
Seeking Compensation and Legal Remedies
The following factors may affect a slip and fall injury claim:
- The severity of the injury
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
For example, more severe injuries entail more significant compensation from liable parties. Hence, a person with brain injuries from a sidewalk accident may receive more than someone who experienced mild fractures.
The court also considers the victim’s medical expenses in computing the award or settlement. Hence, you must keep your hospital bills and prescription receipts. In addition, the liable party may also pay for lost wages, bonuses, and commissions if you miss work due to your injuries.
You can also receive payment for pain and suffering. It involves the discomfort, anguish, and emotional stress victims experience after a sidewalk accident. For instance, some people may have lost enjoyment of life because of the devastating incident.
Accidents Happen, and Shafer Swartz PLC is Here to Help
Navigating the legal processes after a sidewalk accident is a challenging task. Fortunately, you don’t have to go through it alone. Our experienced Michigan slip and fall lawyers at Shafer Swartz PLC can help collect evidence and establish your case so you can get the compensation you deserve. Call us at (231) 722-2444 or contact us here to schedule an appointment.