ROCKFORD, Mich. (WZZM) -- This winter weather will inevitably bring more ice to our neighborhood streets, but some areas are still ice rinks.
But if you fell while walking on the street, who would be liable Cooley Law School Professor Nelson Miller says the rules of the roads, are simple. Homeowners, homeowners associations, rental properties and cities are not liable if you slip and fall.
While cities, most homeowners associations and rental properties salt their streets, Miller says the weather cannot be controlled. He says the rules are different for construction defects or potholes. "Natural accumulation of snow and ice, the landowner doesn't have any liability if someone encounters it and is injured."
That includes mail carriers and the pizza man.
Over the years, decisions by the Michigan Supreme Court have made it more difficult for someone to sue. "These days it's very hard for someone to win a trip and fall or slip and fall claim in Michigan, very difficult. When I started practicing in Michigan 25 years ago that was not true," Miller said.
He says if your streets aren't treated in a timely fashion, contact your local city council member. Miller says the streets are a political, not liability issue.
Homeowners are responsible for clearing their sidewalks according to many cities' ordinances. But Miller says the same rule of "natural accumulation" still applies once you step on a private driveway or sidewalk.
He says the best bet for homeowners in avoiding a lawsuit is to leave the fresh snow or sheet of ice alone. He says the only way someone can reach the homeowner's liability is if the homeowner makes the situation worse. For example, if they clear the fresh snow away, and leave the existing ice.
Miller advises to wear boots with traction, watch your step, and watch the forecast for conditions.