These days it seems everyone has a slip and fall injury they want to sue someone over. Somehow the message got around that anyone who slips, trips or bumps themselves at the grocery store or other business is entitled to big bucks. However, that’s not the case. Especially here in Michigan where the laws seem to favor property owners and do more to encourage property negligence rather than discourage it. In order to win a personal injury claim involving a slip, trip or similar incident, the property owner must clearly be at fault.
Slip and fall injury cases become even more difficult when the injury victim was intoxicated at the time of the incident. It is often difficult to define the line where negligence is responsible for an injury rather than the person’s state of inebriety. However, the Michigan personal injury lawyers at Sachs Waldman, P.C., can obtain compensation for injury victims even if they were intoxicated or contributed to the accident in some other way if there is clearly a case of negligence on the part of the property owner or another individual.
In Michigan, the comparative negligence standard is used to decide whether an injury victim can be awarded damages. As long as the injured person was less than 51% responsible for an accident and injury, the injured person can collect damages from other responsible parties. Although the total amount of damages that can be collected is reduced by a percentage equal to the percentage the victim contributed to the accident (i.e. someone 30% responsible for the accident can only collect a maximum of 70% of the total damages), when you are facing thousands of dollars in medical bills and lost wages, every little bit helps.
Attorneys experienced in litigating personal injury claims can help determine whether an injury victim’s intoxication or another negligent individual or organization was more at fault for the injury and whether a lawsuit is worth pursuing.
Let’s take a look at some examples of situations in which a Michigan personal injury lawyer may be able to win damages for the injury victim even though the victim was intoxicated at the time of the accident.
For our first example, imagine an individual who has had a few too many drinks trying to leave the bar where he was doing his drinking. The entrance to this particular bar is several feet above street level and requires the individual to descend a short flight of stairs in order to leave. Although the subject of our example is not too drunk to walk, he is a little wobbly and falls heavily against the stair rail while trying to pass someone on their way into the bar. Unfortunately, the manager of the bar has not paid much attention to the condition of the rail and the bolts fastening the rail in place have been growing increasingly rusty over the years and on this occasion give way, causing our tipsy patron to tumble onto the pavement below. He fractures his wrist and bangs his head pretty hard, giving him a concussion.
It could be argued that had the man not been intoxicated he wouldn’t have lost his balance and fallen against the railing. However, that railing is there for good reason. It is meant to keep patrons from having exactly this kind of accident and it is certainly foreseeable that intoxicated patrons would rely on the railing to get safely down the stairs on a fairly regular basis. Therefore, management would be expected to maintain the railing and keep it sturdy and safe. Most likely, an instance like this could result in a personal injury claim with damages awarded to the intoxicated man. Very little, if any, of the responsibility is likely to fall on the injury victim in this case.
In our next example, a very drunk individual in a restaurant slips and falls on a wet floor that was just mopped by one of the employees. For sake of argument, the individual is far more intoxicated than normally witnessed in a restaurant, and, while sober patrons navigated or detoured around the wet floor without a problem, the drunk was too inebriated to realize the danger presented by the wet floor. The floor was just mopped because another restaurant patron had spilled their soup. However, the employee who did the mopping forgot to post any kind of warning about the wet floor.
Here the conditions are much less clear. While the employee should probably have posted a warning, the injury victim’s intoxication played a clear role as other patrons were able to avoid an accident, and the level of intoxication surpassed that normally expected in the circumstances. In this case, a jury is much more likely to say the drunk shared almost as much responsibility for the accident as the restaurant. As a result, the slip and fall victim, if he receives any damages at all, is likely to receive much less in damages for his injuries than the bar patron in the first example even if the injuries were identical in nature and cost.
In Michigan, a personal injury lawyer from Sachs Waldman, P.C., can assist in determining whether damages are likely to be awarded for your slip and fall injury and help you decide whether to file a personal injury claim. Even if you were intoxicated at the time your accident occurred, you may be awarded damages if someone else’s negligence was more to blame than your intoxication. Call our Detroit office at 1-800-638-6722 to schedule a free consultation.