No matter what kind of multi-level building you’re in, there are only so many ways to get from one to another. Stairs are a standard, fast, and for builders, a relatively cheap way to get you from one floor to another. But if those stairs aren’t designed, constructed, or maintained properly, a fall could leave you disabled or fatally injured.
If you fell down stairs and are seriously injured, call The Fleck Firm for a free consultation at (270) 446-7000, so we can talk about how we can help. If you have a valid basis for a claim, you may not need to pay for your healthcare and your lost wages out of your pocket.
How Common are Stairway Injuries? Who’s Most Likely to Get Hurt?
Over 23 years (1990 to 2012) a group of researchers estimates 24,760,843 patients were treated in emergency departments for stair-related injuries in the US, or 1,076,558 annually. The highest injury rates were for younger children and older adults, but most of the injured (67.2%) were those from age 11 to 60.
Most of those injured on stairs were women (62.4%), who had a higher injury rate (46.5 vs. 29.1 per 10,000) than men. The most common injuries were:
- 32.3% – Sprains and strains
- 23.8% – Soft tissue injuries
- 19.3% – Fractures
The most frequently injured parts of the body were the lower extremities (42.1%) and head/neck (21.6%). Patients 10 or younger suffered more head/neck injuries, while older adults had more fractures than younger patients.
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What Causes Stairway Falls?
Many problems could cause someone to fall and suffer injuries. Some of those problems are caused by the person. They:
- May not pay attention
- Carry or do something while using the stairs, and they lose balance
- Can’t safely use stairs due to disability or age
- May be intoxicated and fall
Many factors involve the design, construction, and maintenance of the stairs, according to EHS Today:
- The tread depth, or horizontal surface, must be enough for the ball of the foot to land on the tread without extending over the step below. If not, a misstep can occur, causing a fall forward
- When going upstairs, different stair heights can cause falls
- Poor visibility can cause users to misread the stair edge, so the person puts a foot in the wrong place and falls. Making the stair edge more visible through bright or contrasting colors and improved lighting may solve the problem
- Lack of stair rails and handrails could cause a fall. The two have different but essential purposes. Stair rails, or stair guardrails, prevent stair users from falling over the stair edge or off landings. Handrails help pedestrians maintain their balance and provide leverage when using stairs
- Short stairways can cause “air step” falls (stepping off the top stair into the air) that happen when there are three or fewer stairs. Users fail to see the stairs and don’t perceive the floor level change, so they continue to walk forward
- Stairways are poorly maintained, not kept clear or clean. Stair treads may be dirty, in poor condition, loose, or missing. Carpet on stairs must be in good shape to be safe. Outdoor stairs must be clear of snow, ice, and water
How Can an Injury From Falling Down Stairs Result in an Insurance Claim or Lawsuit?
Just because you fell down a set of someone else’s stairs doesn’t mean you’ll collect compensation. These cases usually are negligence claims (unless you were intentionally pushed down the stairs) which require proving four elements of the case:
- The defendant(s) had a duty, or a responsibility, to keep the stairs in a safe condition for your use. There was some kind of relationship (you’re a store customer, or a company manages an office building where you work), and the parties had a duty to maintain the stairs when you fell
- The party received notice of the dangerous condition, which could cause you harm. This includes constructive notice because a defendant failed to inspect the stairs
- The situation was dangerous. It was more than normal wear and tear or a minor defect
- You suffered damages. The dangerous condition caused the fall, which resulted in your injuries, causing you pain, suffering, lost wages, and medical bills
To help your chances of a successful claim:
- Document the accident scene through photos or videos
- Notify the party responsible for the stairs of your fall and injuries
- Seek medical attention as soon as you can
- Contact our office so we can give you the help and advice you need to maximize your recovery
You may be in pain and stressed out by your fall, but if you take some time, think clearly, and take action to protect your rights, you’ll benefit in the long run.
Get the Help You Need from an Attorney You Can Trust
The Fleck Firm is committed to helping those injured by others seek fair justice and reasonable compensation for the harm they suffered. Attorney Tyler Fleck has a track record of helping slip and fall victims receive fair compensation. Our phones are on 24/7, so call us any time for assistance.
If you need an experienced slip and fall lawyer in Elizabethtown, contact us at (270) 447-7000. You may also fill out our online contact form to have our slip and fall lawyers review your case and help you understand your legal options during a free consultation.
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