Ice-related injuries can be nasty. In one second, you’re enjoying the freezing weather and minding your own business. In the next, you could be flat on your back in pain because your feet didn’t have the proper grip on some icy concrete.
Because slip and fall injury cases can affect every area of your life, it’s essential to take legal action immediately to ensure that you can get all the help you need. If you wait, the legal process will only get more complicated and cost you more time, money, and energy.
How Common are Ice Slip Accidents?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2014, out of 42,480 workplace injuries and illnesses that involved ice, sleet, or snow that 82% (34,860) were due to falls on the same level. It’s important to remember that the overall number of falls could be significantly larger to account for non-workplace injuries.
Michigan winters never lack ice, sleet, or snow, meaning that the state is not a stranger to slip and fall accidents and lawsuits. Because they’re so common here, you’ll be able to find a law firm that’s willing to assist you and take on your case.
How are Settlements Calculated?
Before you even step foot into an attorney’s office, it’s important to remember that there is no magic number or settlement amount you’ll be guaranteed. Several factors are considered to determine how much you’ll get awarded in compensation like:
- Where did the incident happen? (Was it a business, private or public property?)
- What caused the fall?
- What injuries did you suffer from the fall?
- How much medical treatment was needed?
- How much pain and suffering did you experience?
- Will you need further medical treatment?
- What are the lost wages and medical bills?
- Is there anything you can’t do because of the accident?
The good news is that there isn’t a limit to how much you can ask as far as compensation goes in a slip and fall lawsuit in Michigan. The average amount for a slip and fall settlement tends to be between $10,000 and $50,000. However, the final amount can be much higher since there is no cap.
The Open and Obvious Defense
The open and obvious defense states that if an average person of ordinary intelligence could have avoided the danger by being more careful, then the business owner cannot be held accountable. You don’t have much of a case if you can see the threat ahead and still push through. This defense has caused many slip and fall lawsuits to be dismissed.
Some conditions that have been used for open and apparent defenses are:
- Falling while it is actively snowing
- Falling after having already slipped
- Falling because the ice was camouflaged by snow
- Seeing others slip or fall on the same spot
Since snow and ice are widespread in Michigan during the winter months, courts tend to favor landlords and property owners as they believe that you should expect slippery conditions during these times. Unfortunately, this means that if you fall and injure yourself, you will have to prove that the accident couldn’t have been avoided extensively.
Don’t be discouraged, though, because as long as you can provide the proof, you will have a solid foundation for your case!
What to Do After a Fall
First of all, don’t panic because it will make the situation worse! If you or a loved one has suffered a fall due to ice, snow, or sleet, you need to remain calm and do the following:
Seek Medical Treatment Immediately
Your wellbeing matters the most, so you should see an expert immediately about your injuries. If you visit an urgent care facility or your local emergency room, you will have to describe the incident and how much pain you feel. If you can, make sure to get a copy of the report from your visit.
Get Contact Information From Eyewitnesses
Using eyewitness accounts will help your case significantly. They can provide proof that your incident was unavoidable and can paint a picture of the circumstances surrounding the environment.
Report the Accident to the Person in Charge
You need to report the accident to the business owner, landlord, or whoever is responsible for the property. You will need to work with them to write an incident report so they cannot claim you didn’t inform them about the accident.
Document the Scene of the Injury
You will want to take pictures or videos of the ice hazard that caused you to slip and fall. Both will help your attorney solidify your case and show that your claims are legitimate.
It’s crucial to note that the pictures or videos can also be used against you if it is found that your case falls under the open and obvious defense. So make sure to document every step, angle, and surroundings of the area you slipped in to ensure all your bases are covered.
When to Contact an Attorney
We hear about cases all the time where someone waited too long to get assistance for their injury. They usually think the damage will get better on its own. So they’ll continue through their usual routine only to find that they can’t even stand for a couple of minutes without excruciating pain.
We don’t want you to get to this point.
You should contact an attorney as soon as possible because the injury can quickly affect circumstances (medical expenses, missed work, severe pain, etc.) within your personal life that can spiral out of control without the right help.
Work with a Firm That Cares
Slipping and falling on ice — and the pain and bruises that come after — can take away the joy of winter fun. At Nolan & Shafer, we know how scary it can be when an injury like this happens because it’s hard to gauge how much the pain will affect your day-to-day life.
You can get a free consultation with one of our experts today at (231) 722-2444. You can also use our contact form, and we’ll get right back to you.