A couple of weeks ago, I slipped and fell while stepping down onto one of the stairs leading off of my back deck. I got a concussion and hurt my back and neck too. I rent the house. The stairs are made of wood and are warped so that they are not level and slope toward the ground. I told the landlord about this problem several months ago but he did not fix the stairs. I asked my landlord to pay my medical bills but he has refused. Can I force my landlord to pay my medical bills? My landlord says that since the stairs are open and obvious, he does not have to pay my bills.


First, you should look at your lease to make sure that you did not agree to maintain the stairs in your lease, if the lease is for more than 1 year. If not, then you have a claim against your landlord. A landlord has a duty to keep the premises fit for the use intended and in reasonable repair. The open and obvious defense does not apply to a claim against a landlord for failure to maintain the premises in reasonable repair and to keep the premises fit for the use intended. Thus, you have a claim against your landlord.

You should contact me immediately. I offer a free initial consultation. And remember, we do not get paid unless you win!

Daniel W. Mabis is with the law firm of Matecun, Thomas & Olson, PLC in Howell. He answers readers’ questions on legal matters affecting individuals, their families and their businesses. Email questions to [email protected], or if your question is urgent, call (517) 548-7400. The information in this column is not intended as legal advice.

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