Stairs Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents can happen to anyone. If a business or common area is negligent in its upkeep, construction, or basic maintenance, you could be entitled to compensation for a slip and fall injury in that location. One of the most common types of slip and fall accidents that comes to the desks of personal injury lawyers is that which happens on the stairs.
Many businesses, from malls to department stores to the outside front of most downtown shops, employ stairs somewhere on their property. Properly constructing and maintaining these stairs is required by most local ordinances, as is the prompt cleanup of any hazards related to spills, damage, or weather. Whose responsibility it is when these services are not rendered depends on the service itself.
It’s up to your slip and fall accident lawyer to determine who, if anyone, was negligent in their basic duties and whether that negligence directly caused your fall. If you want to present a winning case, you need to know the different types of stair injuries that you could sustain and who could be responsible for compensating you for your injury.
Who is to blame for your injury?
There are several possibilities that your slip and fall accident lawyer will review when trying to determine if someone was responsible for your injury.
The main person under scrutiny will be the owner of the location that caused your fall. If the operating manager or property owner can be proven to be negligent in your accident case, then your defense will be straightforward.
Next, employees who knew about the hazard could be at fault, such as in a case where a manager told a janitor to clean up a mess and they didn’t, which caused your accident.
The manager responded with diligence and is therefore potentially free of liability, while the employee is to blame.
Even the architect or builders could come into the case as potentially liable if their designs are proven to be the cause of your slip and fall accident on the stairs. This could be because of slippery hardwood material installed, a lack of handrail support, or poor lighting in the building’s construction.
Determining who is to blame relies on the concept of “reasonability” in a slip and fall case. This means that whatever a reasonable person would do is what the court takes into consideration.
For instance, a floor manager, having seen that a cup spilled in the stairwell, would reasonably tell a janitor to clean it up. Reasonably, the janitor would do it. If you slipped and fell before it could be cleaned up, but the amount of time that it was spilled was not a reasonable amount of time for it to be cleaned, the manager or cleaning staff may not be liable.
If you dropped your own drink and slipped on it immediately, your case will be difficult because of the reasonability factor. Only after an amount of time has passed that would imply a normal manager’s reasonable reaction can your case begin to prove that negligence was the cause of your accident.
Types of slip and fall stair accidents
There are a few main types of accidents that could happen on the stairs. Knowing the difference between them will help you gather evidence and determine liability.
Stairs can be made of material that is particularly slippery like hardwood, laminate, or tile. If a property owner installs these materials but is negligent in installing proper handrails, a slip and fall injury on these stairs could make you eligible for compensation.
Since most building codes require handrails installed in all stairwells, lacking them can make an owner liable. Even installing them at the wrong height can be a hazard that prevents someone from grabbing it in time when they fall.
There are several aspects to stair maintenance that a manager could be negligent in. The first of course is a spill related to cleaning that is not properly marked. Broken stairs and loose handrails are injury hazards that fit into this category.
Even a tatty carpet on a stairwell can cause a fall if you trip on the edge. This lack of maintenance might be provable as negligence in your civil claims suit and award you compensation for your injury on the stairs.
Anything that doesn’t match the building codes in your area could improve your argument. This is why it’s worth it to research the ordinances in the building’s area to see if they were guilty of any provable negligence that caused your slip and fall injury on their stairs. These could include the height and depth of the stairs or the installation of the handrail.
Rain and snow
Not all stairs are inside. Some installations have outdoor staircases leading to their entrances or around the side. These also have to be maintained in accordance with city ordinances to keep customers safe; otherwise, a slip and fall injury there could be the basis for a civil claims case.
For instance, many cities like New York and New Jersey have ordinances that require businesses to regularly maintain their sidewalks and stairs during snow seasons, shoveling the excess from the walkways and putting salt down where people will be converging.Failure to do so can result in an injury suit in your favor.
Next Steps Towards Compensation
Stairs can be a hazard on the best of days, which is why city ordinances exist to keep customers safe. Failure to follow these ordinances in constructing and maintaining the stairs can make a business liable for a slip and fall injury case. Knowing the different types of negligence that can cause a staircase to become unsafe can better inform you of what evidence you need to gather right away (it disappears quickly) and what you should tell your accident lawyer.
Remember that if you wander into an employees-only area you won’t be compensated for a slip and fall injury on company property. Only by proving that the manager had reasonable expectations for where you would be and failed to properly maintain the stairs will you be able to successfully defend a case against them.