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What is premises liability?

Michigan’s premises liability laws are based on the idea that people have a reasonable expectation that when they walk onto another person’s property, they will not face an unreasonable risk of harm. Related to that expectation is a property owner’s duty. Property owners owe certain duties to their visitors to ensure that the premises are reasonably safe. If they breach these duties, and a visitor is harmed as a result, the owner may be held liable for the injured person’s damages.

While this explanation makes premises liability look fairly straightforward, it is in fact a highly complicated area of the law, and the outcome of any premises liability case is highly dependent on the exact facts of the case.

Under Michigan law, one of the most important factors in these cases is the status of the visitor at the time they were injured. A property owner owes a greater duty to some visitors than to others. For instance, a grocery store owner owes a high level of duty to members of the public who have been invited into the store to shop. The owner owes less of a duty to a repair technician who is fixing the electrical system in the grocery store’s back room. The owner owes very little duty to a trespasser who sneaks into the store at night, but may not deliberately try to hurt the trespasser. For instance, the owner cannot set a trap meant to seriously injure trespassers.

When a person suffers an injury on the premise of another, an attorney can help determine whether there may be a relevant lawsuit. Someone who has been injured can benefit from speaking with an attorney.