Slip and Fall on Stairs
According to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, more than 1 million Americans are injured on stairs every year. The study further found that the most frequent injuries from stairs consisted of sprains and strains (32.3%), soft tissue injuries (23.8%), and fractures (19.3%). The body part that was most frequently injured on stairs was lower extremities at 42.1% and head and neck injuries at 21.6%. The National Safety Council found that every year there are 12,000 accidental stairway deaths.
Other studies have found that there are about 38 stair related injuries per 10,000 residences in the U.S. every year. This is the equivalent of about 3,000 stair injuries every day or about an injury every 30 seconds. The total costs of non-fatal stair injuries total approximately $92 billion every year.
The number of people injured on stairs every year should come as no surprise that given the number of stairs we climb and descend in our lives. The chances are greater than not that you have fallen on stairs during your life. The only question is: Were you injured as a result of your fall requiring medical treatment?
Who can you sue for falling on stairs?
There may be multiple parties that you are able to sue depending on the facts of your case. Ultimately, it is our goal to hold those responsible for your fall accountable. The responsible party may be the property owner, the property manager, or the property tenant. In some situations, all three may be responsible and may be sued.
When we examine the liability aspect of a case, we look for the following:
- Did a responsible party spill something on the stair? Did a responsible party cause a slippery or other dangerous problem on the stair?
- Should a responsible party have known about the dangerous stair because a reasonable person caring for the stair would have discovered the dangerous stair and either repaired or removed the dangerous aspect?
- Did the responsible party know of the dangerous stair and do nothing about it?
When any one of the above are found, we legally can hold a party responsible for your fall on stairs.
When can you sue for falling on the stairs?
First, while this may seem obvious, in order to sue you must be injured as a result of the fall you sustained on the stairs. Second, you can sue when your fall on the stairs is the result of the negligence of another. This begs the question of when your fall is caused by the negligence of another. There are various differing circumstances when your fall on the stair was caused by the negligence of another. An experienced personal injury lawyer will help you determine when you can sue as a result of your injuries.
As attorneys that regularly handle slip and fall cases, we look for certain details to hold people accountable. First, we look at whether the stairway where you fell on is outdoors or indoors because they have different problems we analyze.
Outdoor stairs are exposed to the outdoor elements daily. As such outdoor stairs disintegrate and fall into disrepair if they are not up-kept properly. Additionally, the outdoor elements such as rain can cause the stairs to be slippery. This problem is aggravated when the stairs are not properly slopped causing puddles. These puddles result in mold growth increasing the slipperiness on the stairs.
Indoor stairs tend to be used more frequently than outdoor stairs. When the indoor stairs are carpeted, the carpet becomes worn after frequent use and the edges of the worn carpeted stairs become very slippery. When the indoor stairs are made of finished wood or polished stone, these finishes on the stair are slippery. In the situation where liquid is spilled on the wood or stone, the stairs are extremely slippery.
Lastly, we look at the lighting conditions. Poor lighting or inadequate lighting can be an important contributing factor causing stair fall injuries. Bad lighting can hide defects, spills, or other dangerous conditions on stairs that cause injuries.
What if you fell on stairs that had a building code violation?
Our society has building codes for the safety and well being of our entire community. When stairways are not up to code serious injuries can be sustained. There are several common stairway code violations such as:
- Lack of handrails – Building codes require that most stairways have handrails. The lack of a handrail is always a contributing factor in stair fall injures. If there had been a handrail, then whoever fell could have grabbed it to prevent the fall or brace for any impact.
- Improper handrails – Building codes require handrails be of a certain width, installed at a certain height, and be properly secured. Any of these code deficiencies is a contributing factor in a stair fall injury.
- Improper stair height and depth – Building codes have minimum and maximum heights and depths for stairs. Stairs that do not meet these requirements are more difficult to traverse and descend and cause more falls. This is usually an issue where there is only a small amount of space for a stairway. Rather than expand the space for the stairway, corners are cut to save money resulting in taller stairs with a shorter landing to step on.
- Uneven stair height and depth – Building codes require minimal differences between the height and depth of the stairs on a stairway. When the variances between the stairs violate the building code, accidents tend to happen. Think about this from a practical perspective. When you walk up or down a flight of stairs, your muscle memory gets used to the height and depth of the stairs you have already traversed. If there is a stair that has a much different height or depth than the other, at best you will only stumble. At worst, you will fall and injure yourself.
How much is your stair injury case worth?
It depends on the several factors. First, can we determine the cause of your fall? Second, what are the nature and extent of your medical injuries? Third, how much are your medical bills and what are the expected future medical bills? Fourth, have you lost any time working as a result of your injury?
Can you sue if you don't know what caused you fall on the stairs?
Yes. When people fall on stairs, it happens when they are not expecting it and it happens very fast. In the midst of a fall, the last thing going through your mind is how you fell. Then, when the fall results in an injury, your primary concern shifts to your health and well-being—not what caused your fall. It is our job to help determine the underlying cause of your fall.
Can you sue if the property owner fixed the stairs?
Yes. While an attorney will want to examine and document the stairs in the same condition when you fell, this is not always feasible. When a property owner or manager fixes the stairs after you have fallen, this is evidence that the property owner or manager had stairs under their control prior to your call and, thus, had the ability to fix any problem prior to your fall.
We are experienced at handling all types of stair injury cases. If you were injured on stairs, call us for a free strategy session so see how we can help you.