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Apartment Slip And Fall Case – Expert Advice

February 26, 2009

The following is an expert answer given by Florida Premises Liability Lawyer, Joseph M. Maus, and taken from AllExperts.com, a free Q & A service on the internet:

Hello,  I live in Michigan at an apartment complex. When leaving our building there is a landing and then you step down to the sidewalk. Throughout the winter there has been a large chunk of ice on the landing, which has been salted several times. On 2-2-09 I was taking my dog out, and I was trying to avoid the large chunk of ice and as I stepped down to the sidewalk I stepped on more ice and fell. My knee twisted under me and out to the side. I called my husband who contacted the apartment office. They said if I was hurt to go see a doctor and they would need to fill out an incident report. I stopped in at the office and they told me that they would fill an incident report out when I got back from the doctor. The apartment manager also made a remark "I can’t believe you didn’t see that ice, you know you guys need to call us when things are icy so we can take care of it." This ice has been there all winter. The maintenance guys have been at the building several times but have not taken care of it. When I got back from the doctor’s office, the landing was magically clear of the ice chunk as well and thoroughly salted.     After seeing the doctor twice and an MRI, I am now in physical therapy. They say I damaged the small ligaments in my knee.   I have now missed two weeks of work and it looks like I will be out at least one more week. It is still very painful to walk. Not to mention my husband has had to take time off work to care for our three children while I am in PT or at the doctor’s office.   When I asked the apartment manager about possibly getting some lost wages, she said that the owner would deal with that, and he would contact me. It’s been almost two weeks and I have not heard anything although I am keeping the apt. manager up to date on my condition.    My question is, should I wait until I hear from the owner of the complex or should I retain a lawyer to handle my slip and fall case. Do I even have a case? Is it my fault that the sidewalk was not salted and cleared because I didn’t notify the office before I fell? Thanks for your help.

Answer: The answer to your questions depends on the law in Michigan for a slip and fall case, and particularly how Michigan Courts treat slips and falls on ice.  I specialize in slip and fall cases but I am in Florida. Laws vary from state to state so what happens in Florida may not be the case in Michigan.  The best advice I would give you is do speak with an attorney that specializes in premises liability claims, i.e. a slip and fall case.  He can advise you what the law is in Michigan for slip and fall accidents which occur on ice.  Generally, a landowner owes two duties to persons lawfully on the property – to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition, and to warn persons on the property of dangerous conditions that the person may not be able to appreciate themselves.  The fact that you knew ice was on the step, just in a different location, may work to minimize the value of any claim you may have.  I would not wait for the complex owner to contact you. That is most likely not going to happen, and even if it does, he/she will probably not offer any voluntary assistance.  Apartment buildings usually have insurance policies which cover it for accidents like yours, and any decision to pay you money for lost wages, or for your injury, would be made by an insurance adjuster, not the apartment building owner.  However, you do want the claim reported to the insurance company ASAP.  You should contact
an attorney in your area that specializes in premises liability claims. Many attorneys say they do "personal injury" claims, but after asking around, you’ll find they take anything that walks in the door.  Ask how many claims like yours they have handled.  Ask them if they have tried any cases like yours.  If your apartment complex is a large one, there may be other cases like yours which have occurred there, thereby placing the building owner on notice of the dangerous condition.  You should also contact an attorney soon.  Don’t wait to see if your knee gets better or not.  There are many steps your attorney should take now, i.e. notify the insurance company, obtain photographs, etc, that should be done now.    Most attorneys specializing in premises liability claims handle the claims on a contingent basis, meaning their attorneys fee is a percentage of any money they recover for you, and offer a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss whether you have a viable case.  

For more information about a Florida slip and fall case, contact Florida premises liability lawyer Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529 or email him today.

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