Stairs can be difficult to manage in the best of circumstances and are one of the top causes of injuries in the U.S. There are over a million yearly emergency room visits for stairway fall accidents and the U.S. has the most stairway fall fatalities in the world, with over 1,300 in 2004. Although accidents do happen, many stairway falls are caused by: poor lighting, slippery surfaces, safety hazards or improper maintenance and could have been prevented. In these circumstances when a person is injured, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers is ready to investigate and prosecute the incident to determine how to proceed with a legal claim or lawsuit against the homeowner or property management company.
Although most of us go up and down stairs every day, we are rarely conscious of the act when we do so. We are use to using a certain stride when navigating stairs and expect each stair to be the same distance down or up as the previous step. However, if a stairway is constructed poorly, even a small difference in measurement in stairway width or riser depth can have disastrous results and contribute to falls.
Small variations in stair risers or runs are unperceivable to the eye and are unexpected. Measurements that are off as little as one-quarter of an inch can throw off a persons balance as they go up or down the stairs. In one study of stairways that had fall accidents, 75% of them had measurement variations.
Chicago building codes have strict regulations on stairway construction, especially for public or commercial buildings. Furthermore, many municipalities around Chicago have adopted building codes that restrict variations in stair heights and have specific regulations for measurements. Even guard and handrails have to be of a certain construction and height and have specific types of grab-bars.
If someone slips or falls on stairs that are on another person’s property or in a public building, there is a possibility that the owner of the property may be liable. If the stairway is damaged, poorly constructed or was not maintained for safety, there is a good chance that owner will be liable for injuries that occur. Some common causes of stairway falls that are the owner’s responsibility:
- Slippery surface. If the surface of the stairs is slick, falls are likely to happen. Icy, wet or worn stairs can be slippery and it is the owner’s responsibility to keep the traction at a safe level.
- Poor construction. Uneven or improper stair measurements that are not up to local building code standards may make the owner liable for stairway falls. Guardrails also need to be up to code.
- Needed maintenance. If a stairway has a loose board or a nail protruding from it, owners of the property are responsible for fixing and maintain the stairs for safety.
If you are injured from a stairway fall on another person’s property or in a public place, you may be able to receive financial compensation for your injuries. The property owner may be required to pay your: medical bills, reimburse you for lost wages and you may even be awarded damages for pain and suffering. Usually property owners will have liability insurance to cover these damages and will not have to pay them directly.
These cases can be complex and often require investigations to prove liability. Our team of Chicago personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers can determine if you are entitled to injury compensation for your stairway accident. Call us today to set up a free consultation to discuss your stairway defect case.
Resources related to safe construction of stairways: