Hidden slip and fall hazards of steps and stairways
Slip and fall accidents on stairs can cause serious injuries. Stairways come with inherent dangers that are usually not present on level surfaces. While sometimes the hazards may be obvious, in other cases they may be harder to detect. Property owners can be liable for stair accidents just like slip and falls in other locations.
Steps can become worn over time due to heavy use. Threadbare carpet or worn-down wood is a common stair hazard that may often be overlooked. The step’s “run” — the horizontal part where the foot lands — can be especially slippery. In addition, materials such as highly polished wood or tile may have less traction than carpet, stone or painted wood.
A property owner may be liable for a slip and fall accident if they sacrificed the safety of an anti-slip surface in favor of aesthetics. They are also responsible for clearly marking any torn carpet or lose tiles on steps and replacing them as soon as possible. Additionally, stairways should be kept clear at all times and free of cracks and damage.
Builders and property owners are required to follow the stair guidelines stipulated in state building codes. Building codes prescribe maximum and minimum measurements for the vertical and horizontal part of each step, known respectively as the riser and run. Violations such as uneven stair height or improper depth can cause serious slip and fall accidents.
Installing handrails along staircases can also help prevent slip and fall injuries. Many building codes have specific measurement requirements for handrails. Individuals should hold on to them whenever possible to help maintain balance. However, reaching for a handrail that is the wrong height can cause one to fall even when there are no other problems with the stairs.
It is important to note that determining fault can be more complicated than it might seem. If you were injured and you believe someone else is fully or partially to blame, contact Chalik & Chalik to learn more about your rights.