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Strengthening Safety and Mitigating Risks: Solutions Amid Michigan’s Overruling of Open and Obvious Defense in Slip and Fall Litigation

In a landmark decision, the Michigan Supreme Court has recently overruled decades of case law regarding the open and obvious defense in slip and fall litigation. This ruling has far-reaching implications for property owners, as it eliminates a commonly used defense strategy. It is crucial for business leaders to understand the implications of this decision and take proactive steps to address the issue.

Kapnick can help.


The recent ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court means that any condition considered “open or obvious” can no longer be used as a legal defense in premises liability cases. Previously, property owners could defend themselves by arguing that the dangerous condition was apparent and should have been avoided.

For example, if a tenant tripped over an unmarked tree root on the property, the landlord could have used the open and obvious defense to argue that the tenant should have been aware of the potential hazard. However, under the new ruling, incidents like these would likely not qualify as “open or obvious” and cannot be grounds for dismissing a claim.



This decision significant impacts property owners in Michigan. Without the open and obvious defense, it’s likely more slip and fall cases will be filed, with more litigation expenses for property owners. The burden of proof on property owners to demonstrate reasonable care and ensure a safe environment has now become even more critical.



To effectively address the challenges posed by the overruling of the open and obvious defense, property owners must implement a comprehensive risk management plan. Here are some practical strategies and actionable advice to consider:

  1. Regular Inspections and Maintenance Checks: Conduct thorough inspections of all areas, both interior and exterior, to identify potential hazards. Regular maintenance checks will help ensure that any issues are promptly addressed before they cause harm.
  2. Proactive Hazard Identification: Take proactive steps to identify potential hazards through regular assessments. By identifying risks early on, property owners can take corrective action to prevent accidents and mitigate liability.
  3. Adequate Insurance Coverage: Maintain sufficient insurance coverage to protect against financial losses associated with liabilities incurred due to accidents on the property. Consult with insurance professionals to ensure that your coverage adequately addresses the risks specific to your premises.

In light of this significant ruling, it is crucial to take immediate action. Implementing effective safety measures, conducting regular inspections, and maintaining adequate insurance coverage are essential steps to prevent financial losses and mitigate liability risks.


At Kapnick, we understand the complexities of risk management and can provide tailored solutions to help you navigate these challenges. Not only can we provide mock-OSHA inspections for your organization, but every Kapnick commercial insurance client has access to our Risk Services Center. This resource allows you to:

  • Easily and effectively train your property managers and other employees to be aware of everyday hazards
  • Track your employee training
  • Create a safety culture, so all employees become part of preventing slips and falls and other accidents

In addition to preventing incidents, benchmarking your liability insurance coverage is crucial to ensure that you have adequate protection in place. By analyzing benchmarking data, you can gain valuable insights into industry trends, identify potential coverage gaps, and make informed decisions about your insurance needs. Our professional team will guide you through the benchmarking process, helping you understand how your liability limits stack up against similar businesses in your sector. At Kapnick, not only can we provide benchmarking data from your peers in Michigan, we also have access to data throughout the US–and the globe–through our partnership in Assurex Global.

With our client-centered approach, we strive to provide personalized solutions tailored to your  organization’s goals. Our team of experts will work closely with you to assess your risk profile, determine the appropriate coverage limits, and ensure that you are adequately protected.

Remember, being proactive is the key to protecting your business and ensuring a safe environment for all stakeholders. Contact our experts at 888.263.4656 or to learn more about strategies, resources, and tools that can assist you in mitigating risks.