Western Michigan University is taking steps to make Waldo Stadium more handicap accessible after a man with a disability suffered serious injuries from a fall at Saturday's football game.
Detroit-area resident Michael Nachman went to Kalamazoo Aug. 31, 2019, to watch his son perform his first game of his senior year with the Western marching band.
Nachman, who uses a mobility scooter because of a severe liver disease that has required a transplant to get around, was headed up the ramp to his seat, but just before he reached the top, he hit a bump causing the scooter to roll back on top of him.
He said he woke up a few minutes later lying on the ground as several people were trying to lift the scooter off of him.
"There was a patch at the top that made the slope even steeper. It was as if I had done a back flip, the front of the scooter went straight up 90 degrees into the air. My back went straight backwards and my head slammed into pavement and unfortunately I was knocked unconscious," said Nachman.
He said he had a concussion along with minor cuts and scratches.
"I had some bruising to my elbow and my leg, it was painful. I'm still having concussion symptoms," Nachman said.
Western Michigan University spokesperson Paula Davis said crews spent time assessing the Waldo Stadium ramp where the accident happened.
Davis said the university is planning to install a new ADA compliant handicap ramp and handicap accessible route leading to the public seating area on the west side of Waldo Stadium where Nachman was injured.
According to the Americans with Disability Act, state and local governments must address "Temporary access interruptions for maintenance, repair, or operational activities are permitted, but must be remedied as soon as possible and may not extend beyond a reasonable period of time."
Davis said the ramp will be complete before Western's next home game on Sept. 14. Davis said the university is also planning to retrain ushers to better help people with disabilities navigate around the stadium.
"The university wants people to have and fun and safe time at Waldo Stadium with safety being the priority," Davis said.
Nachman said he's exploring pursuing litigation to prove whether Western Michigan University acted negligently under the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Nachman said he's on the hook for thousands of dollars in medical bills and will have to repair or possibly replace his damaged scooter.
“My main concern is making sure it doesn’t happen to anyone again," Nachman said.
Personal injury attorney Jon Jilek said ADA laws ensure business and government bodies comply with the rules, but said they don't provide people with a path to gain monetary awards for personal damage.
"You can bring a lawsuit under the ADA, but you're not going to do anything for your own damages," Jilek said.
Additionally, Jilek said personal injury laws in Michigan make it nearly impossible for those injured to win settlements, because under Michigan's "Open and Obvious doctrine" assumes a person with “average intelligence” should have discovered the hazardous condition upon casual inspection, if a hazard causing a fall is found to be open and obvious.
"The current state of the law has some very drastic hurdles for people who are hurt in premises liability," Jilek said.