Our Michigan lawsuit office handles slip and fall cases and other property hazard lawsuits
Generally, a landlord, property owner, or property possessor is liable for a slip and fall injury or other injury caused by a hazard on their property if the landlord, property owner, or property possessor breached a legal duty to injured person in a way that caused or contributed to the injury. Common breaches of duty include dangerous stairway steps or handrails, or the absence of stairway handrails, allowing falling hazards such as ice or holes, or building code violations. Notably, the landlord, property owner, or property possessor must be considered legally on notice of a hazard that caused or contributed to a slip and fall injury or other injury on a property to be held liable the injury.
Whether the landlord, property owner, or property possessor will be legally considered on notice of the hazard will often depend on the level of duty they owe to the injured person. The level of duty owed to you depends on the injured person’s legal status on the property; whether you are an (1) invitee, (2) licensee, or (3) trespasser.
Invitees are owed the highest level of duty. To qualify as an invitee, an injured person must have been on the property for an intended purpose that entailed an economic benefit for the landlord, property owner, or property possessor. Common examples of invitees include tenants in an apartment building (social guests of a tenant may also be considered invitees), customers in a store, or people in a movie theater. Notably, landlords have additional statutory duties to tenants.
The duty a landlord, property owner, or property possessor owes to an invitee includes making reasonable efforts to inspect the property to discover potential injury hazards, and to repair injury hazards that were found or reasonably should have been found or to warn of such hazards – depending on the circumstances.
Licensees are owed the next highest level of duty. An injured person is a licensee if the injured person had express or implied permission to be on the property, but not for a purpose that created an economic benefit for the landlord, property owner, or property possessor. Common examples of licensees include social visitors, or someone on a property who is just passing through.
The duty a landlord, property owner, or property possessor owes to a licensee includes warning the licensee of any hidden dangers they know or have reason to know of. The key distinction from the duty owed to an invitee is that, if the licensee does not know or have reason to know of the dangers involved, the property owner or possessor has no duty to inspect or repair the property for the licensee.
Trespassers are owed the lowest level of duty. The property owner or possessor owes no duty to the trespasser except to refrain from injuring the trespasser purposefully or recklessly.