Seeking Compensation for a Slip and Fall on Stairs

Stairs are a common feature that can be found in homes and buildings. They provide access to people who wish to go to different levels or floors in a structure. However, stair accidents are also widespread, including slips and falls.

Building Code and the Duty to Keep Your Property Safe

While stairs are essential in multi-level properties, stair-related injuries are common, whether residential or commercial.

According to the National Safety Council, 2,865,817 people got injured in 2022 in stairs, ramps, and landings. Seniors aged above 65 years old and children younger than five years old made up most of the number.

A property owner has the responsibility to ensure that his properties do not pose any danger to their occupants and the community. Building codes exist to protect the safety, health, and welfare of the public. Property owners should abide by them to reduce risks and hazards.

Top 10 Leading Causes of Slip and Fall on Stairs

A building code violation can result in accidents and injuries. Building codes exist to ensure that structures are built according to standards. Building code violations can increase the risks of accidents and injuries.

Here are ten leading causes of slips and falls in stairs and how to avoid them.

Broken and Missing Handrails

Building codes require handrails, and for good reason. Handrails help people keep their balance when going up and down the stairs. A missing or broken handrail can easily cause a person to slip and fall down the stairs.

Fall accidents are also more likely to occur when handrails are of the wrong height, ill-positioned, or loose. Most building codes specify their requirements for handrails, especially apartment complexes and grocery stores.

Slippery Surfaces

A slippery surface is a dangerous surface, and a slippery step in the staircase is very risky. Some surfaces are especially slick, such as highly polished wood or old carpet. These surfaces have a low coefficient of friction, making sliding more likely to occur. Wax and floor polish can also make the staircase steps slippery.  Outdoor stairs can become slippery from snow and ice, including black ice.

Uneven Stair Height

Certain stairs have uneven construction from the beginning or may become uneven with time and use. People using the steps can trip or fall because they are not prepared for a different height. Steps should have the same distance throughout.

Poor Lighting

Stairs are difficult to use without adequate lighting. Inadequate lighting in stairwells and stairways can make it challenging to see dangers, obstacles, and foot clearances.

Improper Stair Height or Depth

There must be a minimum tread depth of 9 inches (229 mm). The tread depth must be measured at a straight angle to the tread’s leading edge and horizontally between the vertical planes of the treads’ foremost projections. In any flight of stairs, the largest tread depth cannot be greater than the smallest by more than 3/8 inch (9.5 mm).

Objects and Obstructions

The stairs must always be free from any objects and obstructions, which can increase the risk of stairway falls.

Damaged or Broken Steps

Any broken or loose part of the stairs, whether the tread, riser, or handrails, can make the staircase more dangerous to navigate.

Substandard Construction

There are times when a stairwell is just built incorrectly from the start. Perhaps unsuitable materials were utilized, like inexpensive wood or metal that corrodes and decays easily. How the steps, risers, handrails, and other components were put together might also be the issue.

Torn Carpeting

People can trip on tears and rips in carpets, causing them to fall down the stairs. The torn spot must be fixed or the carpet needs replacement immediately.

Wet Steps

Staircase steps must be free from any liquid, as a liquid can make it slippery and cause a stairway slip.

Common Injuries Resulting from Slip and Fall on Stairs

A stairway fall can lead to various injuries, from minor to life-threatening. Stair accidents can lead to serious injuries, which include:

  • Traumatic Brain Injuries
  • Head Injuries
  • Fractures or Broken Bones
  • Neck Injuries
  • Back Injuries
  • Soft Tissue Injuries
  • Sprains
  • Strains
  • Organ Damage

When are Property Owners Liable for Staircase Accidents?

Most building codes specify technical requirements on how to build and maintain stairs to keep them safe and functional. A property owner is legally responsible for keeping his properties safe for the public by abiding by the building code.

When filing a claim against the property owner, it is important to establish that there was negligence on his part. Here are some situations where the property owner is liable for a staircase fall accident on his property.

  • The property owner or his employee knew of the dangerous condition of his staircase but did not do anything to mend it.
  • The property owner or his employee caused the dangerous conditions. For example, spilling water or leaving obstructions can lead to stair accidents and injuries.
  • The property owner should have been aware of the stair’s condition because a reasonable person would have discovered it. A reasonable person would know its inherent dangers and would have done something about it.

Who is Most At Risk of Falling Down the Stairs?

Stair falls can happen to anyone and can lead to serious conditions. The inherent dangers that come with using the stairs do not discriminate.

However, some demographics are at higher risk of falling down the stairs. According to statistics and a study, the highest injury rates for stair fall cases occur in children and older adults. Most patients with staircase injuries were also female.

Statute of Limitations in Filing a Personal Injury Claim

Victims of staircase slips and falls have three years from the day of the accident to file a personal injury claim.  The three-year deadline applies to all types of personal injury lawsuits.

How to Recover Damages

After a staircase fall accident, the victim must do the following, if possible.

  • Seek medical attention immediately, even if there are no visible injuries. Call 911 for medical help and transport to a hospital’s emergency room.
  • Document the condition of the staircase. Take pictures of the site of the accident.
  • Gather witness information.
  • Inform the property owner or manager of the accident if the fall occurred in someone else’s property.
  • Do not accept any settlement from the insurance company without consulting a personal injury attorney.
  • See a personal injury as soon as possible.

Doing the above steps can help strengthen the victim’s claim. He can then file a claim to recover damages for his medical costs, lost wages, treatment and physical therapy costs, and pain and suffering. Medical bills can easily pile up, and it is important to document them when filing for damages.

How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

A knowledgeable slip and fall attorney will not only provide counsel. He will also provide legal representation and negotiate on your behalf with insurance companies and liable property owners. An experienced personal injury attorney will ensure that you will get maximum compensation for your expenses and suffering. Call us at The Clark Law Office for a free consultation, and let us discuss how we can assist you.

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