How Do I File a Michigan Injury Lawsuit Against My Landlord?

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How Do I Sue My Landlord for Injuries in Michigan?

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Detroit Rental Injury Lawyers

Landlords in Detroit and throughout Michigan have a duty to provide a safe and a habitable house, apartment or dwelling to their renters and tenants. Michigan law provides strict guidelines and rules under the Michigan Far Housing Act and other statutes. 

These rules require landlords to ensure their properties are in reasonable repair. They also ensure that common areas are fit for their intended use. Landlord must provide a habitable and sanitary home. Violations of these basic safety acts can make the landlord responsible for personal injuries that occur – such as a broken bone, injured neck or back, broken hip, broken ankle or other injuries.

When these duties are broken, and a personal injury results because of the failure of the landlord to provide a reasonably safe condition, the tenant can file a lawsuit in court for his or her injuries. Hiring an aggressive and companionate Michigan rental injury lawyer is essential.

What are a Landlord’s Legal Responsibilities?

For personal injury cases, the basis of a landlord’s duty to a tenant are found under MCL 554.139. This statute says the following:

  • In every lease or license of residential premises, the lessor or licensor covenants:
    •  That the premises and all common areas are fit for the use intended by the parties.
    •  To keep the premises in reasonable repair during the term of the lease or license, and to comply with the applicable health and safety laws of the state and of the local unit of government where the premises are located, except when the disrepair or violation of the applicable health or safety laws has been caused by the tenants willful or irresponsible conduct or lack of conduct.
  • The parties to the lease or license may modify the obligations imposed by this section where the lease or license has a current term of at least 1 year.
  • The provisions of this section shall be liberally construed, and the privilege of a prospective lessee or licensee to inspect the premises before concluding a lease or license shall not defeat his right to have the benefit of the covenants established herein.

In laymen’s terms, this statute means a landlord must keep their apartment, townhouse, home or dwelling in reasonable repair during the lease. Although “reasonable repair” is not defined in the statute, reasonable repair typically means ensuring the premises is safe from unreasonable dangers. 

A landlord does not have a duty to provide a perfectly safe apartment or home. However, if there is part of the home that becomes dangerous or defective, and the landlord knew or should have known of this defective condition, then the landlord can be held responsible for the injuries that occur.

In addition, a landlord must also keep “common areas” fit for their intended use. Common areas are areas of a complex that are used by multiple tenants. Common areas include the lobby of an apartment complex, the walkway or sidewalk, a parking lot or the stairwell. 

Every landlord-tenant injury case in Michigan is different. The location of where the injury took place on the property is very important. The lawyers for the landlord or the property manager can use different defenses based on where the fall took place on a property. That is why it is essential to contact an experience Michigan rental property injury lawyer if you have questions after an injury to a rental property.   

What are Typical Examples of Dangerous Conditions in a Rental Property?

There are numerous conditions in a rental property or a rental property that can eventually becomes unreasonably dangers and lead to injury. However, in general the typical examples of dangerous conditions that lead to bad injuries on a rental property include:

  • Defective steps or staircases, such as rotting wood or broken up cement steps
  • A handrail that is missing nails and screws, or is not properly anchored
  • A porch that is rotting and decaying
  • Failing to provide adequate lighting in an apartment complex or refusing to repair broken lights- and burned-out light bulbs
  • Failing to salt or plow when ice and snow accumulates on a walkway, steps or the parking lot.
  • Water damage that causes a ceiling to collapse or flooding in the basement

It is important to contact a Michigan law firm that specializes in landlord negligent and tenant injury. The Michigan rental property injury lawyers should be able to explain your rights and whether or not you have a case for the injuries you sustained.  

Can you sue a landlord for emotional distress in Michigan?

Yes. Under Michigan law, an tenant or rental injured due to the negligence or fault of a landlord or property manager can sue for the emotional distress they caused. This is also known as a pain and suffering or a negligence lawsuit. 

In Michigan, example of emotional distress damages include:

  • physical pain and suffering
  • mental anguish
  • fright and shock
  • denial of social pleasure and enjoyments
  • embarrassment, humiliation or mortification 

Money compensation is also allowed for future pain and suffering if evidence of future pain and suffering is established.

Aggravations of a pre-existing conditions count. This means if a tenant already had a bad low back, but the landlord’s negligence caused further damage to the tenant’s low back, the landlord can be held responsible for this difference in pain and suffering.  

In fact, the Michigan Civil Jury Instructions is quire specific about this. M Civ JI 50.10 says:

You are instructed that the defendant takes the plaintiff as [ he / she ] finds [ him / her ]. If you find that the plaintiff was unusually susceptible to injury, that fact will not relieve the defendant from liability for any and all damages resulting to plaintiff as a proximate result of defendant’s negligence.

Where Can I File a Complaint Against My Landlord in Michigan?

Personal injuries cases for landlord negligence are different than non-personal injury cases against landlords, such failing to repay a security deposit. 

In the latter situation, those cases are usually filed in district court. This is because the amount in dispute is less than $25,000, which is the jurisdictional threshold for circuit court claims. Some landlord-tenant disputes can be filed in small claims court. In this situation, no lawyers are necessary. Small claims court cases are claims where the damages are $6,500 or less.  

However, cases involving landlord negligence or property manager negligence that result in personal injuries usually are filed in circuit court. In circuit court, a plaintiff is asking for at least $25,000 in damages. Damages can include outstanding medical bills (such as for physical therapy and surgery), lost wages, out-of-pocket costs, pain and suffering, emotional distress and other similar items. 

In Michigan, every county is in a circuit court. Many counties such as Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Kent, Washtenaw, Livingston, Ingham and others make up their own circuit. For example, Wayne County is the 3rd Circuit Court. Less populous counties are combined to create a circuit court. For example, the 29th Circuit Court comprises both Clinton and Gratiot Counties. There are 57 circuit courts in Michigan for the 83 counties.  

How Long Does a Renter Have to Sue for Personal Injury Damages in Michigan?

In almost all situations, a tenant has 3 years from the date of when the injury took place to file a lawsuit in court. This is called the statute of limitations. If you fail to file a lawsuit within that period of time, you can forever lose your right to obtain compensation for your injuries against the landlord or any other proper defendants.

This time period is different for minors. Typically, a minor has a longer period of time to file a lawsuit. In Michigan, a minor has until their 19th birthday to file a lawsuit for personal injury. 

How Do you Win a Lawsuit Against a Landlord in Michigan?

Just because you are injured on a property, and you are a renter or tenant does not automatically mean you are entitled to compensation. Instead, an injured person must prove four things to obtain compensation for their injuries:

  1. The landlord had a duty
  2. The landlord breached that duty, or failed to follow safety rules
  3. The failure to follow the safety rules caused the injury
  4. The plaintiff sustained damages as a result of the injuries

In other words, a renter or tenant must show the landlord was negligent and this negligence caused injuries. Negligence is the failure to use ordinary care, or the care a reasonably careful person would use. In Michigan, a tenant must prove the landlord was at least 50% at-fault or negligent for causing the injuries. 

If the renter or tenant is at-fault for causing his or her own injuries, this will reduce the total award. This is called comparative negligence. If a tenant is more than 50% at-fault for their own injuries, then he or she is not entitled to compensation for their pain and suffering. 

Landlords and their insurance companies are extremely aggressive in defending lawsuits for injuries that occur on their properties. That is why it’s important to call an experienced and great Michigan landlord negligence lawyer to fight on your behalf. 

The best law firms that handle Michigan landlord-tenant injury cases will perform thorough investigations at the beginning of your case. This includes conducting site inspections, taking photographs of the defective condition, taking video and retaining experts to explain how and why the landlord violated the safety rules. 

Is the Landlord Responsible for the Negligence of an Independent Contractor They Hired?

Yes. The landlord is responsible if the independent contractor or third party they hired to repair a dangerous condition failed to property do so. For example, if a landlord hired a snowplow company to plow the parking lot and salt the walkways and sidewalks after a snow storm, but the maintenance company fails to do so or does a poor job, the landlord is also responsible for the snow plow company’s negligence. 

In fact, the law specifically says a landlord that undertakes to make repairs to a rental property may not delegate his or her duty to another to avoid liability for injuries. Instead, the landlord remains responsible for the tenant’s injuries for the negligence of the independent contractor in undertaking or making the repairs. 

The Lee Steinberg Law Firm – Michigan Landlord-Tenant Attorneys

The Lee Steinberg Law Firm is Michigan landlord-tenant law experts. We have represented tenants injured due to landlord negligence for over 40 years. Let our Michigan landlord-tenant lawyers help you. It is our goal to answer any questions you have and fight for the compensation you deserve.

Need a case evaluation? Please call Lee Free and Michigan landlord negligence lawyers at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form so we can answer any questions you may have about Michigan tenant injury law and Michigan landlord-tenant accidents.

We are the Michigan landlord-tenant personal injury law experts. You pay nothing until we settle your Michigan landlord negligence case. Let us help you today.