Over the years we have handled hundreds of cases involving trips and falls on stairs.
Often, a stair accident case will require an early inspection by an engineer. The engineer will take measurements and photographs. His opinion is necessary to prove a case of negligence. He may find that the stairs may not conform to the building code. Or he may determine that the stairs are not in conformity with sound safety and engineering practice. Sometimes, the stairs are in derelict condition and need repair.
For example, these stairs are very striking and an engineering feat in that the treads are supported only from the wall. However, the stairs are very dangerous from a number of viewpoints, such as
- the stairs lack a grill or sidewall to prevent a fall;
- there are not handrails; and
- the dimensions of the stairs do not appear to conform to the building code.
The steps are typical for many backyard decks. Again, they lack a banister or handrail or a grill or sidewall. There is nothing to hold onto in the event that one were to lose his balance.
Dangerous stairs are not limited to buildings. We have had cases involving dangerous public stairs. The stairs in the park are not level due to settlement of the earth. Although the building code may not pertain to stairs in a park, an engineer can opine as to whether the steps pose a hazard. It is noteworthy that the handrail is a little out of reach and should be closer to the steps.
These stairs are hazardous because the overgrown vegetation pose a tripping hazard since a person would tend to walk next to the wall so as to grip the wall to steady herself. The greenery may hide a defect, such as a broken nosing. Routine maintainance would have prevented this condition. The stairs also lack a handrail.
Here are some examples typical stair defects:
- lack of handrails;
- the treads and risers are not of consistent dimensions and do not conform to the building code;
- the nosing or edge of the step is broken or missing;
- foreign objects have littered the steps, such as discarded food, soda, beer, or urine;
- the stairs have inadequate lighting; and
- the steps are unduly slippery, and non-slip edging would have prevented this.
If you have been injured due to a fall on a stairs, please feel free to call us for a free consultation at 800-581-1434 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark E. Seitelman, 11/4/09, www.seitelman.com.