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Slip and Fall on Black Ice Injury Victims Win Michigan Court Decision

Michigan slip and fall injury victims, especially those who fell on "black ice," were seeing their lawsuits dismissed by the courts in Michigan because of some recent terrible court decisions.  The injuries in these slip and fall on ice accidents are often severe and require significant medical treatment and care.  This left the injury victims in the dark and the negligent property owners and their insurance companies off the hook.

Until this new case, the law in Michigan essentially held that property owners could not be held liable in "black ice" cases because residents in Michigan should know of this possible condition simply by living in the state.   This rational was ridiculous because it required Michigan residents to avoid a condition that was essentially invisible. Fortunately, this has changed due to a recent Michigan Court of Appeals decision.

In this new case, the trial court dismissed a case in which Plaintiff slipped and fell on black ice in the parking lot of a Funeral Home on the evening of March 06, 2006. There was light precipitation earlier in the day and temperatures were below freezing all day. The parking lot had been salted in the morning and was clear of snow. A witness testified that there were patches of black ice everywhere in the parking lot, shortly before the plaintiff's fall.

 At 6:15 PM the plaintiff parked at the far end of the parking lot which was nearly full. Plaintiff slipped and fell on a patch of black ice approximately 5-6 feet wide. Defendant operator claimed there was no ice, but found "the area of the fall ‘a little bit on the slick side". The plaintiff fractured his right ankle.

The trial court held that the black ice was open and obvious and dismissed plaintiff's case. The Michigan Court of Appeals rejected the defendant's argument that black ice in Michigan is open and obvious and stated:
In fact, very nearly the opposite is true: the "overriding principle" behind "many definitions" of black ice is its invisibility, which is "inherently inconsistent with the open and obvious doctrine. Slaughter, supra at 482-483. ... But in the absence of some other, visible indicia of an otherwise invisible hazard, black ice per se simply cannot be "open and obvious."  

The trial court's decision was reversed and the case was remanded to the trial court.  This means that slip and fall victims who fell due to black ice can now be fairly compensated for their injuries.  This includes money damages for pain and suffering, disability, loss of enjoyment of life, payment of medical expenses, and payment of lost wages.  To find out if your case qualifies, call and speak to one of our experienced lawyers.
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