Dangerous Stair Conditions
There are a variety of dangers which can arise within a staircase. Property owners who lack a regular maintenance routine may be unaware of these circumstances until an accident has already happened. Common examples include:
Broken and Uneven Steps
Imagine walking up a staircase which you think is in working order, only to suddenly slip or trip on a broken step. In this situation, it may be difficult to react quickly enough to avoid a fall and subsequent serious injury.
Uneven steps are also dangerous since it may be difficult to judge your landing. Such a misjudgment could easily lead to a dangerous fall.
Cluttered stairs are extremely hazardous. Obstructions and debris force visitors to avoid them, which creates an unnatural movement path. This increases the likelihood of a trip and fall down the stairs.
Adequate lighting is a key aspect of building safety. If you're using a staircase in the dark, it's almost impossible to judge your landing place. It's also much easier to trip over a step or completely miss a broken step under insufficient lighting.
Faulty or Nonexistent Handrail
We use handrails to maintain our balance while climbing or descending a staircase. A loose handrail is extremely dangerous, and can easily offset a visitor's balance and cause a fall. Stairs equipped with no handrail at all are equally dangerous.
If a property owner neglects to address any of the above issues, he or she is endangering anyone who uses their staircase. When an accident occurs and injuries result, such a property owner may face a lawsuit and be held liable for damages.
Slick and Icy Steps
Property owners are obligated to clear snow and ice from sidewalks, walking paths, and staircases in the outside areas of their properties. Slippery staircases are one of the most common causes of slip and fall accidents.
Who Is At-Fault?
Like other slip and fall cases, one of three criteria must apply in order to find a property owner at-fault:
- The property owner caused the dangerous condition which eventually lead to a fall injury.
- He or she was notified of the condition but chose not to address it in a timely manner.
- He or she should have known of the condition, according to the "reasonable care" clause. Meaning that a reasonable person would have known about the condition if he or she had properly maintained the property.
Even when the owner is determined to be negligent, the court will also evaluate your own role in the incident. Would a reasonable person have been capable of avoiding the accident? For instance, did you trip and fall while you were playing a game on your smartphone? A specific percentage of blame will be assigned to you in these instances.
Any judgment awarded will be adjusted based on this number. For instance, if you were found 10% responsible and a $50,000 verdict was awarded, that final number would be reduced to $40,000.
A good personal injury lawyer will evaluate the building and compare the condition to local building codes. If a breach of building codes contributed to the conditions which caused your fall, you'll have a very good case in civil court.
Additional Slip & Fall Info