When you go walk into a Michigan store, your thoughts tend to revolve around finding the items that meet your needs. It’s very unlikely that many people are thinking about being injured in a slip-and-fall accident while they’re shopping.

Property owners should be thinking about ways to prevent slips, trips and falls and the painful injuries that can result. Proactive owners and managers of stores, shops and restaurants often rely on the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) for recommendations for flooring materials that dramatically reduce the risk of injuries to members of the public while they’re shopping.

The nonprofit organization tests and certifies products that help keep floors dry and customers safe.

Slips, trips and falls by the numbers

The NFSI also tracks slip-and-fall statistics and related data, including the following:

  • Falls are the leading cause of accidental injuries in the U.S.
  • Injuries sustained in falls account for 21 percent of all ER visits. Slip-and-falls account for more than one million ER visits annually.
  • Bone fractures occur in 5 percent of all falls.
  • Hip fractures are the most serious fractures in falls, often leading to ongoing health problems.
  • The Consumer Product Safety Commission says floors and flooring material are direct contributors to more than 2 million fall injuries annually.
  • Slightly more than one-fifth of slip-and-fall incidents result in the victim missing more than a month from work.

Of course, not all slip-and-fall accidents occur in stores, restaurants and shops. Far too often, the incidents happen in the parking lots of those facilities, while still others happen in a residential setting.

There are also slip-and-fall legal claims involving disputes between landlords and their tenants.

Michigan premises liability law

Under Michigan law, the property owner has a duty to make “reasonable efforts” to make the premises “reasonably safe” for visitors and customers. However, if the property condition that caused the injuries is “open and obvious” (meaning that the hazard could be seen with casual observation), the property owner might not be liable for those injuries.

That doesn’t mean that property owners can dodge all responsibility for open and obvious hazards. There’s still the matter of owners being required to make “reasonable efforts.” If the owner didn’t make those efforts to remedy a dangerous condition, it’s possible for the injured person to receive full compensation for damages.