For many of us who have lived in Michigan, this winter has been especially brutal compared to previous years. Accordingly, these frequent snow storms create extremely dangerous icy conditions, which potentially increase slip and fall lawsuits for many premises owners. Recently, the Michigan Court of Appeals tackled the issue of when a premises owner is on constructive notice of an icy condition in Mukrdecian v. DRS C3 & Aviation Co. Moreover with respect to these dangerous icy conditions, the court offered an interesting analysis on when a premises owner “should know or realize of the condition.”
At a minimum, land owners owe a reasonable duty of care to invitees (individuals who have permission to be on their land.) Under premises law, a land owner can be held liable for an invitees’s injuries where they knew or should have known of a dangerous condition, or reasonably should have discovered it. In this case, Mukrdecian suffered serious injuries from a slip and fall in defendant’s parking lot from a patch of ice. However, he was unable to establish that the property owner had direct knowlege of the icy condition prior to the fall (which is ordinarily presumed based upon the weather conditions.)
The Court rejected this presumption, holding instead, that property owners are not on “constructive” notice of icy conditions where there is no direct evidence to determine the formation of a hazard. For example, the court suggested it could be possible that a few days of precipitation could form an ice patch, but there must be more evidence than simply weather conditions. Essentially, the court suggested that a plaintiff must reasonably demonstrate that an ice patch was created by an act like a spilled drink, or melted ice, which then after a reasonable time should be discovered by a property owner.
Once again, the Michigan Courts have seen fit to erase years of precedent making it much tougher on victims to recover in slip and fall cases.
By: Vince Colella and Fahd Haque, Law Clerk for Moss & Colella, P.C. If you have any questions, please email Fahd Haque at FHaque@mosscolella.com.