A slip and fall case is not always as straightforward as one would hope it to be. There are different directions that a case might take.
In this article, let us talk about the parties in a slip and fall case about the premises liability law.
In a slip and fall case, you need to establish four elements, as we have already discussed.
What are the four basic elements that you must prove?
To recap, you need to prove the following in a premises liability case.
- That the Defendant owed you a legal duty;
- That the Defendant breached that duty;
- That Defendant’s breach of his or her legal duty was a proximate cause of your injuries; and
- That you suffered damages as a result of the Defendant’s breach of the legal duty.
That the Defendant owed you a legal duty
As we have already discussed, the first step to take note of is to establish that the defendant owed you a legal duty.
The legal duty arises because the defendant has own possession or control over a property.
Does this mean ownership of the property?
No, the Michigan Supreme Court is clear that ownership and control are different concepts in the premises liability law in Michigan. There is a big difference between who owns a property and who has control over it. This is why individuals can either sue for premises liability or general negligence or both in the State of Michigan.
For example, a shop owner who is renting a space for his coffee shop will be liable to take care of the premises, including the sidewalks in front of the store. If an individual falls and slips on the pavement, it is the shop owner who becomes responsible and not the owner of the property under the premises liability law.
Once it has been determined who is the one who has control over the property in question, it becomes important to identify the legal duty of the defendant to the injured party.
What is the legal duty that the defendant owes the injured party?
The extent of the legal duty that the defendant owes to the injured party depends primarily on the purpose why the plaintiff was on the property in the first place.
This is where we discuss the parties to a slip and fall case, other than the defendant:
Individuals who are on the premises as invitees for a commercial benefit such as a coffee shop, a retail store and other instances of a commercial benefit are considered as invitees. Invitees to a property must be kept in a safe condition as they walk through the premises.
A possessor of a property, or the defendant in the case, is required to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition for the invitees. The invitees must be kept informed of the following:
- Any dangers that the possessor knows would affect the invitee;
- Any dangers that the possessor should warn the invitee about; and
- Any dangers that are present on the property.
Unless the dangers are open and obvious, it is incumbent upon the defendant-possessor to inspect the premises and make sure that nothing gets past them.
The second kind of plaintiff would be the licensees. Licensees are individuals who are on the land with the express and the implied permission of the defendant-possessor. For licensees, the liability’s extent is smaller.
Typically, social guests at the home of the defendant-possessor are considered licensees.
Trespassers are individuals who entered the property of another without any permission. A trespasser will not have any rights under the premises liability law even if he is injured on the property of the defendant-possessor.
However, the defendant-possessor is required to refrain from any action on the property which could cause great bodily harm or death to the trespasser if he is aware of his presence on the property.
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The article that you have read is based on general applications of the law. It is not legal advice and it is not to be construed as any legal consultation with the firm. No client-attorney relationship is created when you read the articles we have provided.
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