When a pathway or walking surface is poorly constructed or maintained, people can get hurt. When the unsafe surface is part of a staircase, the potential for slip and fall accidents and injuries rises.
People injured in a slip and fall incident on stairs can suffer severe injury. When the incident turns out to have been foreseeable or preventable, a case can be made for negligence on the part of the property owner.
Improper construction, poor maintenance or inadequate lighting of a stair case can lead to a person slipping or falling. Builders are required by municipal building codes to construct stairs according to a set of acceptable standards. The codes call for specific measurements for the horizontal surface of the step (referred to as the run) and the vertical surface (the riser).
The specifications also address the space allowable between steps, known as the variance. In other words, the stairs must proceed one to the next in a predictable pattern of riser height, so that a person climbing or descending the stairs can regulate their footsteps accordingly.
There are construction requirements regarding the railing as well. Stairways of a certain width may require a railing on both sides of the stairs, or even a middle rail, as is often the case in large commercial buildings or public spaces with wide two-way stairs. The railings must also be installed to a specified height, as the standards must allow for support within easy reach.
In addition to making sure the stairs are built properly, building owners must be sure to maintain them with safety in mind. Many cities and municipalities have maintenance codes. The boards or materials that make up the steps themselves should be maintained, as should carpet, tile, or other floor coverings.
Railings should be safely secured. Also, the area should be free of objects, debris, slippery coatings, or sticky residue.
In the case of outdoor stairs, snow and ice must be cleared in a reasonably timely matter. Leaves, stones, sand and other debris that could cause a slip and fall must also be cleared regularly.
Generally, the injured party in a personal injury slip and fall incident must prove that the owner, operator or manager of the property knew or should have known of the dangerous condition. The injured party must also establish that the defect or hazardous condition was the proximate cause of the fall. In some states the degree of care owed may be lower for social hosts as opposed to those operating commercial premises. At times, the duty of care may depend on the relationship between the injured party and the owner of the property.
If you are injured as a result of a defective or dangerous staircase, it is important to promptly report the incident to the owner or manager of the property. It is also important to obtain an early inspection of the area of the fall, before the owner or manager changes or alters the condition of the premises. Finally, many business premises use video surveillance. Early reporting, with a request that the facility maintain video surveillance, may provide critical evidence in proving the nature of the condition and the cause of the fall.
If a staircase slip and fall has resulted in a personal injury to you or a member of your family, you may have a case against the property owner for negligence. Talk with an experienced Cherry Hill and Haddonfield slip and fall lawyer at Williams Cedar to discuss the applicable premises liability laws in New Jersey or Pennsylvania. Call us today at our Haddonfield, New Jersey office at 856-470-9777 or our Philadelphia office at 215-557-0099 or contact us online. We represent injured individuals throughout Pennsylvania, South Jersey, and nationwide.