Any building that has more than one floor is going to have a staircase, elevator, or escalator in the building to help people get from one floor to another. We all have to use these quite frequently, in some cases every day if you live or work on a higher floor. We usually use them without thinking that they could be dangerous, but all three are locations where slip and fall or trip and fall accidents occur with some regularity. Furthermore, people that do fall down stairs or escalators or in an elevator assume that the fall was their fault because they were being clumsy. This is not always the case — the fall could just have easily been the result of the property owner failing to keep them safe and in good repair. With the assistance of an experienced Philadelphia slip and fall lawyer, you might even have a case against the property owner in regards to your accident.
Because of premises liability laws, property owners are responsible for maintaining a safe environment on their property, which includes staircases, elevators, and escalators. Staircases need to be evenly built and free of clutter, and elevators and escalators require regular maintenance and inspection so that they are safe to use. Owners also need to be careful about how they clean these surfaces, because wet or waxy floors could lead to slipping and falling. If the owner knew about a hazard and did not have it fixed property or did not warn people of the hazard quickly, they could be held responsible for any accidents that occur.
Staircases are prime places for people to trip or slip if they are not maintained properly. Things that owners and pedestrians need to watch out for include loose or uneven carpeting in stairwells, worn out wood in old staircases that could be slippery, or polished tiles that are left untreated. Weather can also be a huge liability when it comes to staircases: if people track in snow or ice, or even rain water, the surfaces of each stair could be slippery and could cause people to fall. This is made worse if the owner has failed to install a handrail for the staircase or the handrail is loose or uneven. These are required by building codes and could get the property owner in trouble if they are not installed or maintained properly.
Steps also must be even, meaning that they must be level across each step and each step must be the same height. Building codes in the area outline the maximum width and height allowed for each individual stair, and if the stairs exceed those measurements, the property owner could be held responsible for accidents that occur, even if the measurements are off by only a quarter of an inch.
Slip and fall accidents in elevators most often occur because of the surface used for the floor of the elevator. If the floors were cleaned or waxed and left slippery, people could easily slip and fall while getting on or off the elevator or simply while riding it. Loose or lumpy carpeting can also cause people to trip.
But elevator accidents can include more than just a fall. An unmaintained elevator can go too fast or not stop in line with the floor its on, meaning that people trip when leaving the elevator. In fact, over 17,000 people are injured each year riding an elevator, and around 30 people die every year riding an elevator. These serious cases happen when the elevator stops far from the floor itself, causing serious falls.
The building owner could be responsible for the elevator malfunction if they did not ensure that inspections and regular maintenance occurred, but it could also be the fault of the elevator manufacturer for building it incorrectly. The company that performed the maintenance could also be at fault if they did not do their jobs properly. If there was an issue with an elevator that caused your accident, someone is liable for it, and your lawyer will help determine who owes you compensation for your accident.
Anyone who has ridden an escalator knows that they can be tricky to get on and off of, even if youve done it a hundred times. You have to be careful to watch the escalator and where you step, or you could miss your step and fall. Some escalators are even known to be jerky, which can cause problems even after youve boarded the escalator. Also, clothing such as shoelaces or even sleeves can get caught in the escalator steps or handrails, which can lead to injuries as well.
Across the United States, people take around 60 billion trips up and down escalators every year. Of these trips, around 11,000 accidents occur on escalators. Around 3,000 elderly people are hurt in these accidents.
Because accidents on an escalator can be extremely dangerous, given the fact that the steps have sharp edges and that victims can fall a long way before stopping, courts are beginning to hold property owners to a higher standard when it comes to maintaining the safety of their escalators. This means that they could be considered legally responsible for your injuries and could owe you compensation for your injuries. If you have fallen on an escalator, be sure to contact our offices as soon as possible to begin pursuing a claim.