Stairways and Their Hazards
Updated on May 23, 2019.
Because stairs are a common feature in many homes and buildings, people take them for granted. However, they aren’t always safe to use, and the unwary person may fall and injure himself.
Unlike tripping on a level surface, losing your balance on a staircase often involves a violent tumble down a bumpy surface full of hard edges, where normal falling reflexes do little to minimize injury. Falls on steps and stairways often result in severe injury, and sometimes even death.
If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one due to a fall on a staircase, there could be negligence involved. Owners and custodians of property, both public and private, have a duty to keep that property reasonably safe. If they fail in this duty, they can be held liable for the costs of the injury. This is a concept known as “premises liability.” If you’ve been injured due to a hazard on someone else’s property, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. To find out what your legal rights and options are, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at the Tenge Law Firm, LLC.
Stairway Fall Statistics
Falls down staircases may be funny in slapstick comedies, but in real life, they are anything but. Worst of all, they happen more frequently than one would expect. According to the National Safety Council:
- More than 1 million injuries are caused by stairway falls each year in the U.S.
- Stairway accidents are the second leading cause of injury, with motor vehicle accidents being the leading cause.
- Stairway accidents result in 12,000 fatalities each year.
Common Stair Hazards That Cause Falls
Falls on stairways can result in broken bones, spinal cord injury, lacerations, soft tissue damage, traumatic brain injury, and other serious types of harm—not to mention the mental trauma from such an event. And they can be caused by:
- Poor lighting. Dim lighting because of burnt-out or missing lightbulbs, or low-wattage lights, often cause staircase falls. In the darkness, you also can’t see other hazards or broken steps.
- Objects left on the stairway. Storing items on the stairs is inappropriate and dangerous. These objects are not only tripping hazards—they leave little room for using the stairs, and can make handrail use difficult. Property owners must also keep outdoor stairs clear of obstacles and debris.
- Missing or damaged steps. Staircases that have missing, loose, or damaged steps pose a danger to users.
- Slippery steps. Property owners should keep outside stairs clear of snow and ice. Both indoor and outdoor stairs should not be made of overly-slippery materials. If they are, some sort of non-slip surface, such as carpet or rubber, should cover them.
- Missing or damaged handrails. Handrails provide added stability and safety, especially for children and the elderly. If there are no handrails, or if they are not sufficiently secured, they cannot help prevent falls.
- Miscellaneous stairway hazards. A loose or frayed rug or carpeting, missing or loose tiles, rotting wood, crumbling concrete, uneven steps, dozing pets, and myriad other unexpected conditions can all lead to stairway falls.
If a property owner or caretaker knew about an unsafe condition on a stairway, and failed to correct that condition or sufficiently warn visitors about it, he or she can be held liable for any injuries you incurred.
If you’ve been injured in a staircase fall, you may be entitled to significant compensation for your losses. To find out more, contact the trusted Colorado legal team at the Tenge Law Firm, LLC. Call (303) 665-2929 for a free case evaluation.
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