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Huge Court Victory for Michigan Injured Workers and Consumers

The Michigan Supreme Court just ruled that a person who slips or trips on a hazard can sue for damages. For example, if a person slips on ice in a parking lot or on debris at a worksite, or trips on defective pavement outside an office building or frayed carpet in an apartment, they can sue the company that possesses the property to get damages for their injuries. Up to now – for the last 20 years – judges appointed by governors Engler and Snyder had ruled that if a person could see the hazard, there was no duty to fix it.

This decision is huge. It could be life-changing for someone seriously hurt by falling, slipping or tripping due to a hazard, on or off the job.

Here are some examples:

  • A UPS driver slips on ice while making a delivery and breaks an arm or busts a shoulder. He now has a claim against the homeowner (or if it’s an apartment complex, the claim is against the apartment complex owner). The driver now has a negligence claim in addition to his worker’s compensation claim.
  • A Coca Cola driver slips on grease in a store and gets hurt while making a delivery. He now may have a claim against the store for failing to clean up the grease, as well as a worker’s compensation claim.
  • An electrician or carpenter slips on debris at a construction site. He now has a claim against the subcontractor who created the mess, and against the general contractor which failed to make the subcontractor clean up the mess.
  • A consumer slips on oil at the salad bar in a restaurant. He or she may now have a claim against the restaurant owner for failing to clean up the spilled oil.
  • A consumer trips on bad pavement in a commercial parking lot or just outside a store, and injures his or her wrist or shoulder or face. Now, the injured person has a claim against the property owner for not fixing the defect.

With this type of negligence claim, a person can claim loss of wages and ability to earn money, medical bills, nursing or attendant care at home, and pain and suffering. Thisis very different froma worker’s compensation claim, where a person cannot collect for pain and suffering, or get the benefit of wage increases which take place at the workplace after the date of injury.

This change happened because the Democrats took over the majority on the Michigan Supreme Court. Before, the Republican judges on the Supreme Court did what insurance companies wanted them to do – keep injured people from collecting for injuries. The way it was before the change in law, insurance companies could charge premiums for liability insurance, but not have to pay out benefits!

If you are injured by a slip/trip/fall, take pictures asap of the condition that caused the fall. Be sure also to report the accident immediately to management of the company whose premises you are on, and to your employer if the accident happened while working. Report the accident in writing or by email, and keep a copy.

When you go to the hospital or to a doctor’s office, be accurate and complete in telling them how the accident happened. When handling a claim or lawsuit, lawyers and insurance adjusters look carefully at the histories given by the patient. Please call if you have any questions. I’d be happy to explain the new law.

Client Reviews

"Marshall Lasser is aggressive, always attacking, knows the law and never gives up. He won my Worker’s comp case and my negligence case against the general contractor." — Former IBEW Local 58 worker permanently disabled in a fall on a construction site.

Lou Ghaffari

"Lasser fights hard and he's smart. He won the work comp case and sued the homeowner whose busted driveway caused my injury. Mr. Lasser got a jury verdict for me in that case, when other lawyers told me the jury would give me nothing." — Former Teamster Local 299 DHL driver who suffered a...

Barbara Wood

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