Falling down a set of stairs can cause serious injury or death. Such a fall may cause broken bones, head or traumatic brain injuries (TBI), or a back or spinal cord injury that leads to paralysis.
It is the duty of those who own stores, malls, theaters, arenas, offices, homes and other buildings with staircases to ensure that stair treads and handrails are not loose or damaged and that staircases are properly lit and remain uncluttered. Staircases should be designed, built and installed in a way that ensures safety.
Negligence by a property owner or other responsible party that causes a hazard with a staircase or handrails that leads to a fall may be grounds for a legal action. A person injured in a fall on an unsafe staircase may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses.
Common Causes of Staircase Falls
Staircases in offices, stores, malls, stadiums, homes and other structures pose an inherent falling danger that most people can negotiate safely. But if a staircase or its handrails are damaged, poorly maintained, poorly lit or strewn with debris, anyone can slip or trip and fall.
Risk-management professionals have identified several common factors in falls on stairways. A study by the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis at Cornell University found that:
- Slipping is the primary cause of falls on stairs.
- Most stairway falls that lead to injury occur while descending (going down) the staircase.
- Lack of handrails accounts for a large percentage of falls on stairs in which people are injured.
- Falls occur when stairs are unexpected, such as one or two steps in a hallway or at a doorway.
To ensure staircase safety:
- Staircases treads should be of even height and have even surfaces.
- Loose stair treads, frayed or torn carpet, loose or broken thresholds, or other deteriorating flooring should be repaired or replaced.
- Steps should remain free of wetness, clutter or other obstacles.
- Staircases should be properly lit, and in non-public places have on/off light switches at each end.
- Staircases should have handrails of appropriate size, height, length and distance from the wall on both sides.
- Property owners should ensure that ice, snow, water, mud and other substances are cleared from outdoor staircases in a timely manner.
- Flooring below stairs or staircases must be free of rotting boards or crumbling cement, which may allow stairs to collapse.
Property owners have a duty to ensure their premises are reasonably safe for visitors. This includes ensuring staircases and handrails are safe for people who exercise reasonable care when using them.
Ignoring basic safety measures regarding staircase and handrail safety may leave a property owner or other responsible party liable if someone slips or trips and falls and is injured on a staircase.
Contact Our NY / NJ Fall Accident Attorneys Today
If you have been injured in a fall on a staircase in the New York and New Jersey metro area, the slip-and-fall accident lawyers of the Ginarte law firm may be able to help you obtain compensation.