Slip and Fall on the Stairs? You May Have a Lawsuit
It’s late at night. You leave your third-floor apartment and head to the darkened stairwell. You’ve told your landlord several times that lightbulbs had burned out in the stairs, but he has yet to replace them. As you gingerly step down the stairs, your foot misses one of the steps. You stumble and fall down the stairs. You wind up with a concussion and a few broken ribs.
Sound familiar? Surprisingly, a scenario such as this happens more often than you think. And it’s a perfect case of premises liability.
Common Types of Staircase Accident Injuries
According to a study by the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, more than 1 million Americans injure themselves every year on stairs. The majority of these accidents are a result of slip and falls.
The common types of injuries include sprains, strains, bruises, and concussions. Although the majority of patients that sought treatment were soon released, about 6 percent of those admitted for treatment of severe injuries.
Who is Responsible for the Accident?
When it comes to a stairway accident, you may be facing a pile of medical bills. Are you responsible for this accident?
Not necessarily. While it’s true that pure clumsiness is the cause of your staircase accident, in the case above, the fault may lie in with the landlord. As premises liability dictates, it is the property owner’s responsibility to make sure that not only all hazards are clear from the property but that the surroundings are safe for your visitors.
Was your staircase accident the result of the following hazards?
- Inadequate Handrails: According to New Jersey’s building code, all staircases should have proper handrails. They are designed to help people maintain balance when walking up or down steps.
- Slippery Surfaces: Not only should the stairs be free of snow and ice, but sometimes the material on the stairs, such as worn out wood or raggedy carpet, could cause the stairs to become slippery.
- Improper Stair Design: The New Jersey Building Code contains information concerning standards for staircase design. The code spells out the requirements for handrails and specifications for stair risers and treads. The latter involves maximum and minimum height and width numbers for each step.
Proving Fault in a Staircase Accident
Like the majority of premises liability claims, it can be difficult to prove fault in a staircase accident. You must prove the following:
- The property owner owes you a duty of care. As a tenant, you have a legal right on the property owner’s premises.
- The property owner had prior knowledge of the danger yet failed to act. Your landlord knew about the lack of lighting yet did nothing to fix the situation.
- Because the property owner was negligent, it led to your injuries. Since your landlord failed to fix the lighting, you could not see where you were going, causing you to slip and fall.
The best way to prove a staircase accident was the result of negligence should be speaking with an experienced slip and fall attorney to see what your legal options may be. At the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone, our Jersey City personal injury attorney has been fighting for the rights of staircase accident victims for the past 30 years. Contact us today for a free consultation.