Personal Injury

When named as a defendant in a lawsuit, the natural instinct of most people is to panic or despair. Faced with the possibility of having a judgment entered against them and the equally daunting prospect of dealing with the legal system and having to pay for an attorney even if they win, most people understandably worry about what will happen to them, their family, and their overall well-being. Even a relatively minor civil lawsuit can cost thousands of dollars to defend before a judgment or settlement is even reached. This can be debilitating to many individuals and families, especially with the economy in a continued slump. What many people do not realize is that in many instances, they may already have the means to protect themselves.

Many homeowner’s insurance and renter’s insurance policies have a general liability provision that can provide liability coverage in the event of a personal injury or general tort claim. These policies cover legal costs and liabilities up to a certain level. The coverage will often apply to any tort claim filed against the policy holder, though each policy will have different limitations and exclusions of coverage. If the insurance carrier agrees to provide coverage it can mean the difference between financial stability and financial ruin, saving the insured thousands of dollars.

One of the questions we ask every client who comes to usin these types of situations is whether they have filed a claim with their insurance carrier yet. Often people are not even aware that they may be covered; they simply assume that because their home was not damaged, or because an injury might not have occurred at their home, they are not covered. This is not always the case. At worst, the insurance carrier will review the matter and deny coverage. While that is never the answer you want to hear, it leaves you in no worse position than you were before the claim was submitted. In short, any downside to submitting a claim is minimal, while the potential benefits are considerable. For that reason alone, always remember to check with your insurance carrier if you are sued; the answer may save your family’s financial future.

For more information or to speak with us, please contact us in Ann Arbor at 734-665-4441, or in Ypsilanti at 734-483-3626.  To learn more about Pear Sperling Eggan & Daniels, P.C., or any of our attorneys, please visit us at www.psedlaw.com.

Business owners owe a reasonable duty of care to protect customers from unreasonable risks of harm caused by hazardous conditions on a business premises. If the operator of a business fails to comply with this duty and a hazardous condition causes a customer to suffer an injury, that customer may have a personal injury claim against the premises owner. However, it can be very difficult to succeed on a premises liability claim in Michigan because of the “open and obvious” defense.

In Michigan, if a danger is known to a business invitee or the danger is “open and obvious” a business owner does not owe the customer a duty to protect from or warn the customer of the condition. Whether a danger is open and obvious depends on whether it would have been discovered by casual inspection. Michigan courts have held that the following can be open and obvious hazards: large potholes, an unmarked step, icy sidewalk conditions, and puddles of water.

However, in two instances a property owner will be foreclosed from arguing they did not need to protect customers from an open and obvious condition: when the hazard is unreasonably dangerous, or when the hazard is effectively unavoidable. An example of an open and obvious condition that is effectively unavoidable is water covering the floor at the only exit of a business. An example of an unreasonably dangerous risk, one that gives rise to a uniquely high likelihood of harm, is a 30-foot deep pit in the parking lot of a business.

PSED Law recently secured a substantial settlement for a client that was injured in a trip-and-fall accident. Our elderly female client tripped and fell over electrical cords haphazardly strewn across a walkway at a campground. The cords were unmarked and unlit, and the walkway was intended for use at night. The property owner moved for dismissal on the grounds that the electrical cords were open and obvious. PSED defeated this trial court motion by demonstrating that the cords were not open and obvious, because they were unlit and the fall occurred at night, that the cords were effectively unavoidable because there was no alternative route back to our client’s campsite, and that the cords caused an unreasonably high risk of harm. The open and obvious defense provides substantial protection for premises owners, but it isn’t impossible to overcome.

Premises liability actions require careful planning, a thorough understanding of the law, and experienced attorneys. We offer these skills to our clients. PSED Law has achieved success in many other trip and fall and other personal injury actions.

If you’ve been injured in a slip-and-fall, a trip-and-fall, or any other type of accident and you need an experienced and effective advocate to protect your rights, please contact us in Ypsilanti at 734-483-3626, and in Ann Arbor at 734-665-4441.  To learn more about Pear Sperling Eggan & Daniels, P.C., or any of our attorneys, please visit us at www.psedlaw.com.