In Michigan, tenants’ safety and well-being are paramount, and landlords are expected to provide safe living conditions. However, when tragedy strikes due to a landlord’s negligence, such as a locked door leading to the death of a child, legal questions arise. This article explores the potential grounds for a lawsuit against a landlord in Michigan under such circumstances.
My child was locked inside his room, it was the second floor of our rented house. We removed the main door’s lock for his room, but he got into our room while I was in the bathroom and somehow locked himself inside. I informed the landlord, who lives in the next place. We called the fire department, but while waiting, my child found a way to go to the terrace and eventually fell.
He passed two weeks after being in the ICU for the fall. He fell on the fence before eventually hitting his head on the pavement. The wall was rusty and had nails coming out, which caused severe trauma to my child’s brain. We repeatedly asked the Landlord to fix that but did not act on it. We want to sue our landlord for wrongful death. What are our rights?
Understanding Landlord Responsibilities
Before delving into the legal aspects, it’s crucial to comprehend a landlord’s general responsibilities. In Michigan, landlords must maintain the premises in a habitable condition and promptly address necessary repairs. This duty encompasses common areas as well as individual rented units. However, specific circumstances may impact the scope of these obligations.
Negligence and Wrongful Death
Establishing a legal case against a landlord is typically necessary to prove negligence. Negligence consists of several elements: duty, breach, causation, and damages. In this scenario, the question arises as to whether the landlord owed an obligation to maintain the lock on the door and whether their failure to act constituted a breach of that duty.
Duty and Breach of Duty
To determine the duty owed by the landlord, the court may consider various factors, such as the lease agreement, local housing regulations, and the circumstances surrounding the incident. If the landlord had previously assumed responsibility for the maintenance and security of the door, a duty might be inferred.
The existence of a duty, however, does not automatically establish a breach. A breach occurs when the landlord fails to fulfill their duty by not adequately addressing the issue, such as a malfunctioning or locked door. If the landlord was aware of the locked door and failed to take reasonable action to rectify the situation, it could be considered a breach of duty.
Causation and Damages
To succeed in a negligence claim, it is necessary to establish a causal link between the landlord’s breach of duty and the harm suffered. In this case, it would require demonstrating that the locked door directly contributed to the child’s tragic death. Additionally, damages, such as emotional distress, loss of companionship, and funeral expenses, would need to be established.
Foreseeability and Contributory Negligence
Michigan follows the principle of comparative negligence, meaning that the court may assign a percentage of fault to each party involved. However, foreseeability and the plaintiff’s actions are also essential factors.
If the landlord could not have reasonably foreseen that the locked door would lead to such a catastrophic incident, it could affect the case outcome. Similarly, if the plaintiff’s actions, such as leaving the child unsupervised, contributed to the tragedy, it might reduce the landlord’s liability.
Premises Liability and Defenses
The landlord may raise defenses to counter the negligence claim in premises liability cases. Common reasons include lack of notice, where the landlord argues they were unaware of the locked door, or an intervening cause, suggesting that another party’s actions were the primary cause of the child’s death.
While it is possible to pursue legal action against a landlord in Michigan if their failure to act on a locked door resulted in the tragic death of a child, the success of such a lawsuit depends on various factors. Proving negligence, establishing causation, and demonstrating damages are essential elements of the case.
Additionally, considerations of foreseeability, comparative negligence, and potential premises liability defenses may impact the outcome. It is crucial to consult with an experienced attorney to evaluate the specific circumstances and determine the viability of pursuing a legal claim in such a distressing situation.
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