Metro Detroit Personal Injury Lawyer
Generally, the government is immune from tort liability when engaged in a governmental function (see When Can The Government Be Sued?). However, an exception to this general rule exists for injuries caused by improperly maintained public buildings:
"Governmental agencies have the obligation to repair and maintain public buildings under their control when open for use by members of the public. Governmental agencies are liable for bodily injury and property damage resulting from a dangerous or defective condition of a public building if the governmental agency had actual or constructive knowledge of the defect and, for a reasonable time after acquiring knowledge, failed to remedy the condition or to take action reasonably necessary to protect the public against the condition." MCL 691.1406.
In order for the exception to apply, the building must be open to the public. If the building is routinely locked, privately leased, or closed during renovations, it does not fit within the exception to governmental immunity.
Knowledge of the dangerous and defective condition is presumed when the defect exists for a period of 90 days or longer before the injury took place. Similar to the notice requirements for the highway exception and those for defective sidewalks, the injured party must serve notice on the responsible governmental agency within 120 days. The notice must specify:
- The exact location and nature of the defect;
- The Injury sustained; and
- The names of any known witnesses.
The Michigan Supreme Court, in a case called Kerbersky v Northern Michigan Univ, 458 Mich 525, 529, 582 NW2d 828 (1998), provided the elements that a plaintiff must prove in order to fall within this exception:
- A governmental agency is involved;
- The public building in question was open for use by members of the public;
- A dangerous or defective condition of the public building itself exists;
- The governmental agency had actual or constructive knowledge of the alleged defect; and
- The governmental agency failed to remedy the alleged defective condition after a reasonable period or failed to take action reasonably necessary to protect the public against the condition after a reasonable period.
Metro Detroit Injury Lawyers is a Bloomfield Hills, Michigan law firm practicing personal injury law. Contact us today at 248-430-8929 for a free consultation and evaluation of your case, with no obligation.