We have represented people who suffered serious, devastating and life altering injuries such as a traumatic brain injury, fractured or dislocated coccyx, elbow, femur, or shoulder as a result of a simple “slip, trip or fall” on a stairway.
There are many causes for falls on stairs. The stairs may be worn, chipped or cracked. A foreign object or liquid may make the stairs dangerously slippery. Or the stairs may be old and rickety. Each of these conditions may cause a person using the stairs to be injured in a fall and each fall is thus unique to its own circumstance. In other words, how worn, chipped or cracked were the steps, what foreign object or liquid made the stairs dangerously slippery, how were the stairs old and rickety? As each of these examples is “fact specific” it is important to take measurements and photographs of the stairs, as well as attempting to obtain a video of the fall, as soon as possible after the fall so that you can then better prove what caused you to fall.
Because stairways are used so often and because a fall can lead to such serious injuries, there are many codes and standards that apply to safe stairs and which require that stairways be consistent in design and construction. Standards are set in municipal building codes, fire codes, and property maintenance codes as well as other professional organizations.
The two major factors to look at in a stairway fall are the steps and handrails.
Stairs consist of treads and risers. The tread is the horizontal surface which you walk on. The riser is the vertical part between each tread.
The first basic rule is that stairway steps must be consistent, so that they are of uniform height and width. Going up or down a stairway after you take the first few steps, you expect that the conditions you have experienced will continue throughout the rest of the stairway. Stair conditions must be made consistent. The treads and risers should all be the same height and width.
Sometimes steps have a metal shield at the edge of the step which is called a nosing. Nosings on the steps must be regular, easily visible, and securely attached to the steps to avoid tripping. We have seen many accident caused by old, loose or misshapen nosings on steps that caused people to catch their shoes and then trip and fall.
Stairways require sufficient and adequate lighting at all times so that when you are using the stairs you can see where the each step starts and ends
Handrails help you maintain their balance when using a stairway and also prevents falls on stairs. Aside from holding onto a handrail so that you do not lose your balance when you do trip or lose your balance you can instinctively grab onto the handrail and prevent a fall.
Handrails must be securely attached throughout the entire length of the stairway as well as at the very top and bottom of the stairs. You must have enough room between the wall and the handrail to “grasp” and hold onto the handrail. There should not be any point on the stairway where you must take your hand off of the handrail because there is not enough room for your hand due to some impediment. Handrails must be uninterrupted and continuous. Depending on the width of the stairway handrails may be required on both sides of the stairway.
Until an accident happens to them personally, people do not realize how fragile they are and how a simple slip and fall on a stair that they have used countless times in the past can result in very serious life altering injuries.
At the firm of Jaroslawicz & Jaros we have handled many accidents involving slip and falls on stairs.
For example, an elderly man visiting New York from out of town went to a bar while his wife was shopping and had a few drinks, which is what people in bars do. As he was leaving the bar and going down the steps he fell down about ten (10) steps and fractured his hip among other injuries. When we went to investigate and inspect the stairs we found that the handrail had an obstruction at about the third step down which caused him to lose his balance and fall. We went to Trial and first proved that the handrail was of a dangerous design and then obtained a verdict of over one million dollars for his injuries.
Each accident case has its own set of unique facts.
We represent one women who badly cut her hand because the end of the handrail had a sharp edge and another woman that caught her shoe on the loose nosing and fell down a flight of stairs.
We have had cases where the marble stairs were old and very worn and uneven in the center causing a tripping hazard; in another case the marble stairs were old and had large cracks; in some cases the stairs were not of uniform height making them dangerous and easy to lose your balance, or the lighting was too dark, and many other reasons for people suffering an injury while simply using a staircase.
So if you or a loved one has suffered an injury while using a stairway you should immediately contact a lawyer with experience in this field off law so that an investigation can be started immediately. In today’s day and age there are often videos to be obtained but that are destroyed or overwritten within thirty days, witnesses to be interviewed, photographs and measurements should be taken as soon as possible as often changes and alterations can take place after an accident.
In many cases, a lawsuit must be filed before certain date, which is known as a statute of limitations.
If you are in need of legal assistance, call Jaroslawicz & Jaros at 917-842-9544, toll-free at 800-269-2780, or you can submit an online questionnaire. The initial consultation is always free of charge, and if we agree to handle your case, we will work on a contingency fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary recovery.
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