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Did a property owner fail to maintain a staircase and cause a fall?

On behalf of Cohn Lifland Pearlman Herrmann & Knopf LLP | Oct 21, 2020 |

Falls happen on private property because of a wide range of factors. Sometimes, it will be ice and snow or a spill on the floor that results in someone losing traction and falling. Other times, it may be problems with property maintenance that put tenants or visitors at risk for a slip-and-fall and possibly a serious injury.

Some of the worst falls that a person can experience will involve stairs. Whether you slipped and fell while going down a full flight of stairs inside a building or lost your balance and tumbled down a partial set of stairs outside of a facility, you may have the right to bring a premises liability claim against the person or business who manages or owns the property.

What potentially makes stairs unsafe?

Stairs are inherently risky because they involve someone repeatedly shifting their center of gravity and moving down or up an incline. There are many rules in place to help limit how dangerous stairs are, from requirements mandating that the part where you step is broad enough to accommodate your foot to rules that limit how tall the riser, or vertical incline between steps, can be.

Those who have older properties may need to rebuild or retrofit existing staircases to make them appropriately accessible and safe. Even if the size and shape of the stairs themselves are not an issue, failing to maintain the staircase frequently could directly cause someone to get hurt.

What does proper stairway maintenance involve?

Just having stairs that conform to certain standards isn’t enough. A property owner or landlord also needs to proactively monitor and maintain stairs to make sure they remain safe and easily usable. Proper stair maintenance can help keep people safer.

Carpet or linoleum, for example, could begin peeling up and potentially catch someone’s foot or tear away when someone steps. It is also important that there be a sufficiently strong guard rail or handrail on the edge of the stairs so that people have something to hold onto to maintain their balance or something to grab onto if they start to fall.

Finally, stairways also require adequate lighting. When people can’t see the step in front of them, they may not notice that someone else dropped something on the stair where they are about to step, a situation that could easily lead to severe injury. Daily inspections are necessary to ensure that all systems are in place and that the stairwell is clean.

If you got hurt on a flight of stairs and believe that the property owner is responsible, it may be worth discussing the situation with an attorney familiar with premises liability cases to see what options you have.