Every day of our lives we walk up and down stairs. Sometimes they are one or two steps up only to a different level of a home or office or restaurant and sometimes we have walk up or down a flight of stairs. Unlike walking on a flat surface, a fall un stairs can be fatal or catastrophic and the different potential hazardous that can render a stair or stairs unsafe are numerous.
Stairs need to be well lit, have handrails on both sides, be the same height and depth per stair and need to be free of tripping hazards like cracked or damaged steps, liquids left on stairs or lose carpeting. Property owners and management companies have a duty to maintain their stairs to ensure they are safe for their intended purpose and this includes a duty to consistently inspect the stairs.
Before we discuss what can render a stairwell unsafe or a property owner’s responsibility to correct problems, it is important to remind you, the injured party, of a few things. One is that if you fall within a set of stairs you need to immediately report your fall to the property owner or management company or the manager of the store you are in. If your fall goes unreported then the insurance company will have a difficult time believing your story because, without an accident report completed at the time of the fall, they will have nothing to go on but your word.
The second thing you need to remember is to take photos of the condition within the stairs that caused your fall and get the names and contact information of any witnesses. Be your own investigator because your lawyer cannot be with you at the time of your fall and the dangerous tripping hazard that caused your fall will surely get cleaned up or corrected once you leave thereby hampering your ability to prove your case. And third, please seek immediate medical attention for your injuries. Delays in treatment allow insurance companies to wrongly conclude that your injury was caused by something else besides the fall.
As to the dangers of stairs, it goes without saying that stairs need to be the same height and width and depth. When stairs aren’t uniform and identical the slightest difference can cause you to lose your balance. The same goes for the condition of the steps themselves or the carpeting that may be covering the steps. Over time these surfaces become worn out and bad traction can be deadly for people climbing or descending the stairs. Lastly, there are countless safety codes that govern how stairs should be designed and maintained relating to the size and location and positioning of the railings, the size and dimensions of the landings and the adequacy of the lighting within the stairs.
The lawyers at Stein & Shulman have handled countless cases involving stairs that we argued were unsafe and we have a number of safety and code experts at our disposal that can review your case and offer expert opinions as to why the property owners were negligent. Call us now for a free consultation so you can understand your rights and make sure that you are doing everything you need to do to maximize your recovery. The call and the advice are free so do not delay in calling our law firm at (312) 422-0500.