MDNR – Ice Safety Tips
One can also be liable for such injuries or death based on Michigan premises liability law. Here a lakefront home owner or the possessor of the land who uses a bubbler may be held responsible to any social guest (your friends and relatives) by a showing that the land owner or possessor knew or should have known of the condition caused by the bubbler and should have realized that it involved an unreasonable risk of harm, that the guest would not discover or realized the danger until it was too late and that the guest should have been warned. There is a special rule imposing a higher degree of care when any of the social guests are children.
Under Michigan law a trespasser may even hold a lakefront homeowner or possessor liable for a bubbler. To impose liability here for injuries or death of a trespasser, the trespasser or the surviving family must prove that the riparian or possessor knew or should have known that trespassers constantly intruded in the area of the dangerous condition and that the riparian owner or possessor was actively negligent or created the dangerous condition caused by the use of the bubbler.
Additional theories of liability under Michigan law where a riparian homeowner or possessor may be held liable for injuries or death arising out of the use of a bubbler include a public nuisance, a nuisance per se, a nuisance in fact and a negligent nuisance. A public nuisance is an unreasonable interference with a right common to the general public. Unreasonable interference includes significant interference with public health, safety, peace, comfort or convenience, prescribed by law and of a continuing nature that produces a permanent or long-lasting effect. A nuisance per se is an act, occupation or structure that is a nuisance at all times and under any circumstances. A nuisance in fact is a nuisance by reason of circumstances and surroundings. An act may be found to be a nuisance in fact when its natural tendency is to create danger and inflict injury on person and property. A negligent nuisance in fact is one that is created by the possessor’s negligent acts, that is, a violation of some duty owed to the plaintiff that results in a nuisance. A nuisance in fact is intentional if the creator intends to bring about the conditions that are in fact found to be a nuisance.
Lastly, Michigan law allows for liability of a bubbler under attractive nuisance law. To sustain an attractive nuisance case the injured person or family of the deceased must show that the riparian or possessor knew or had reason to know that children were likely to trespass; that the children (being minors) did not realize the risk involved; that the bubbler’s utility to the riparian and the burden of eliminating the condition were slight compared with the risk to children; and, that the riparian failed to exercise reasonable care to eliminate the danger caused by a bubbler.