Determining Fault After a Stair Accident

Business and homeowners are expected to exercise a reasonable level of care when it comes to protecting the safety of residents and visitors. You may already know about slip and fall liability. Stair accidents fall under this same broad category of accidents caused by dangerous underfoot surfaces, but could present additional challenges in determining fault. To show that someone is responsible for your injuries after a staircase accident, you must show that he or she was negligent in failing to ensure that the stairs were safe.

Understanding How Stair Accidents Happen

Staircases are inherently somewhat dangerous. By definition, the walking surface includes various levels, making it far easier to trip and fall. Some stair accidents are simply the result of a moment of carelessness. The fact of sustaining an injury while on someone else’s staircase usually will not be sufficient to prove fault. You must also show that the staircase was unsafe even when used reasonably and carefully. This might have been the case if:

  • The staircase was dangerously slippery. A patch of worn-out carpet or highly polished wood can catch you by surprise and cause you to fall. Owners hold a duty to choose building materials with traction that are safe for residents or visitors to the property, and to replace carpeting or flooring as necessary.
  • The stairs were wet or icy. This is of special concern in Indiana! During the long winter months, homeowners and business owners must keep their outdoor stairs free of water, snow and ice. If the stairs don’t have an anti-slip surface (through salting or special mats), their owner may be held responsible.
  • The steps were uneven. The height of a step is called its rise, and the depth is called its run. These two measurements must be kept consistent across the entire staircase, or there is a greater risk of people instinctively misjudging where to place a foot, and then tripping.
  • The staircase did not have a proper railing. A handrail is an important safety feature for everyone’s use, but it’s especially important for children, the elderly, or the disabled who need an extra level of support. Most building codes specify how and where handrails must be installed.
  • The staircase violated the building code in any other way. Building codes exist for a reason: to keep visitors safe. If the owner ignored these rules, he or she can be held liable for any injuries those violations cause.
  • Insufficient stairwell lighting. When lights have burned out and not been replaced, or the stairway lighting in place fails to adequately illuminate the area, the risk of a trip and fall is increased.

Seeking Fair Compensation for Stair Accidents

If another party was at fault for your injuries in a stair accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. With the help of a personal injury lawyer, it can be determined exactly how the accident happened, and how the staircase owner failed to ensure the stairs were safe. Stair accident cases often involve extensive research into the building code and the construction of the defective staircase, among other details. At Jacobs Law LLC, we have over 50 years of experience helping clients receive fair compensation for their injuries. To learn more, contact us to schedule a free consultation. You’ll pay no fees until you recover compensation for your injuries.