In a recent Michigan premises liability opinion, the appellate court allowed the plaintiff’s case to proceed to trial based on the property owner’s failure to warn the plaintiff of a dangerous condition in their home. The plaintiff alleged that she fell when entering a mudroom in the defendant’s home where she was a guest. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that her injuries were caused by an eight-inch drop-off between the hallway and the mudroom, which was not visible to the plaintiff.
In Michigan premises liability cases, there are varying degrees of care owed to the plaintiff, depending on the relationship between the defendant and the plaintiff. A plaintiff can generally be categorized as an invitee, a licensee, or a trespasser. An invitee is someone who is invited to enter or remain on the premises for a commercial benefit to the premises owner. A licensee is someone who is invited to enter or remain on the premises for any reason other than a business or commercial one. Finally, a trespasser is someone who enters the premises without an express or implied invitation.
In this case, the plaintiff claimed that the defendant failed to meet the standard of care owed to her as a licensee, or as a social guest in the home. Premises owners are subject to liability for injury to licensees that are caused by a condition on the premises if:
- the owner knows or has reason to know of the condition and should know that it involves an unreasonable risk of harm to licensees that the licensee will not recognize the danger;
- the premises owner fails to exercise reasonable care to make the condition safe or to warn of the condition and the danger of the condition; and
- the licensee does not know or have reason to know of the condition and the danger involved.
Michigan’s Supreme Court has explained that, normally, a jury must determine the relevant standard of care that should be exercised in a circumstance and whether a defendant failed to meet the standard of care.
The appellate court held that a jury could reasonably determine that the applicable standard of care required the defendant warn the plaintiff of the eight-inch drop-off that was not easily visible. The court decided a reasonable person could find that the drop-off presented an unreasonable risk of harm, that the defendant knew or had reason to know of the drop-off and the danger it presented, and that defendant should have expected the plaintiff would not notice the drop-off. Accordingly, the court reversed the grant of summary judgment and sent the case back to the trial court for further proceedings.
Contact a Michigan Premises Liability Attorney
If you have been injured on someone else’s property, the property owner may be liable for your injuries. Examples of dangerous conditions are wet floors, missing handrails, and cracked sidewalks. The Michigan premises liability attorneys at the Neumann Law Group can evaluate your claim and assist you in pursuing a claim for compensation against the property owner. It is important to act fast, because evidence can disappear quickly and there are strict statutes of limitations in Michigan premises liability cases. Contact the Neumann Law Group at 800-525-6386 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation.