Slip & Fall Injuries: Open and Obvious Doctrine Essentially Overturned
- posted: Jul. 31, 2023
Injuries that occur from slipping and falling can range in severity, requiring medical attention or even hospitalization. If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident, understanding Michigan’s comparative negligence law is key to ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve.
Slip & Fall Injuries: Open and Obvious Doctrine Essentially Overturned in Kendil-Elsayed v F & E Oil, Inc.
According to Michigan’s revised comparative negligence law, an individual who is partially responsible for their own accident may be held liable for some or all of the damages that are incurred as a result of the slip and fall incident. This law differs from contributory negligence laws that operate on an “all-or-nothing” basis, meaning if the individual is found to be even one percent at fault, they are not eligible for compensation.
Before July 28, 2023, Michigan's Slip and Fall was based on contributory (All-or-nothing) basis, but now has become Comparative Negligence based. Michigan was notoriously known for having the least favorable laws for injured victims, according to the "Open and Obvious" doctrine. However, the Michigan Supreme Court in Kendil-Elsayed v F & E Oil, Inc., has essentially got rid of the teeth for Open and Obvious doctrine making it easier for slip and fall victims to survive in open court.
In essence, the Plaintiff must establish that the landowner owed the injured Plaintiff a duty, and then whether that duty was breached. In determining that breach, the fact-finder must determine whether the condition was open and obvious and despite its open and obvious nature, the landowner should have anticipated harm to the invitee. If a breach is shown, as well as causation and harm, then the fact-factor or jury should consider the Plaintiff's comparative fault.
The New Comparative Negligence Standard
In a comparative negligence state like Michigan, the injured party can still potentially recover damages as long as they are deemed less than 50% responsible for the slip and fall incident. Damages awarded will be reduced by an amount that reflects the degree of responsibility held by the claimant—so if the injured party is deemed to be 25% responsible, any award they receive will be reduced by 25%.
In order to determine fault and establish eligibility for compensation, it’s important for individuals who have been involved in a slip and fall incident to document the scene of the accident as soon as possible. Gathering evidence such as photos or witness testimonies can be very helpful in supporting a case. It’s also important to get medical attention immediately, as often times injuries resulting from a slip and fall accident may not appear until several hours after the incident has occurred.
The laws around comparative negligence are complex and vary from state to state, so it’s important for individuals that have been injured in a slip and fall accident to consult with an experienced attorney. An attorney can help assess fault and ensure that you receive the compensation you need to cover medical bills, lost wages, and other damages related to the incident.
If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident, understanding Michigan’s comparative negligence law is key to ensuring your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation you deserve. Seek out experienced legal counsel to ensure that your case is handled properly.