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Fall on Dark Steps - Poor Lighting & Fall Injuries- Open & Obvious Michigan

A recent Michigan Court of Appeals decision reinstated a case where a person suffered severe injuries due to darkness  in an area of unlit stips at a school.  The trial court had dismissed the case holding that the the danger of dark steps was "open and obvious."  The Michigan Court of Appeals disagreed.

In Ahola v Genese Christian School, the Court of Appeals properly held that:

"Here, the evidence establishes that plaintiff exited into a completely dark area in which the steps were not visible on casual inspection. Defendant should have reasonably anticipated that darkness over the steps in the school's unlit exit route amounted to an unreasonably dangerous condition that could result in injury. The fact that plaintiff had negotiated these steps three hours earlier, in daylight, neither eliminates the danger posed by unlit steps at night nor negates the landowner's duty. Bertrand, 449 Mich at 611. Surely, the primary purpose for lighting an exit area is to provide invitees with a safe route of ingress and egress when natural light is unavailable. The risk of harm posed by the absence of light here qualifies as unreasonable despite its obvious nature, given the simple remedial measure that could have prevented injury-turning on or repairing the lights. Consequently, we conclude that whether defendant unreasonably maintained its premises on the evening of the basketball game represents an issue for the jury.

Contrary to the circuit court's determination, the open and obvious danger doctrine does not eliminate defendant's duty to reasonably maintain the lighting around the steps."

This is a great decision for slip and fall accident injury victims in Michigan.  In the recent past, judges were regularly dismissing these lawsuits from court.  The rational for finding a dark or unlit area to be "open and obvious" was simply intellectually dishonest.  Now, injury victims can seek justice for their injuries when business owners, apartment complexes, and others fail to properly light a staircase or other area where a person can fall and become injuried.

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