What Factors Can Make a Stairway Unsafe?July 10, 2018 | Category: Personal Injury, Slip and Fall Accidents | Share
If you have been injured in a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident on a stairway, you may be entitled to sue and recover damages for your accident-related losses.
Florida law imposes a duty of care on those who control property to maintain all aspects of the property in a reasonably safe condition for premises entrants. In many cases, however, what may initially seem to be a “normal” stairway is actually designed or maintained in a manner that exposes users to a heightened risk of injury.
There are a number of factors that can make a stairway unsafe. Consider the following.
Uneven steps — whether they vary in height from step-to-step, or they are not flat across their entire width — can pose a serious danger to users. Climbing uneven steps can be particularly dangerous when the inconsistency at issue is not clearly visible. Small variations in height and width can throw off the user’s balance, causing them to fall and severely injure themselves.
Stairs can lack “grip,” making them a slipping hazard — especially if the stairs are located outside and are exposed to rain. Defendants should consider whether their stairs could be dangerous to users from a slipping perspective and should implement high-grip surfaces (i.e., edge tread, slip-resistant paint, rubber, etc.) to minimize the risk of harm.
Handrails have two functions: 1) they allow users to grip and guide themselves along the stairway and avoid a fall, even in situations where they might lose their balance, and 2) they create a barrier from falling off the side of the stairway.
Handrails are particularly important as a safety device in circumstances where the stairway is very wide, making it possible for the user to walk up the “center” of the stairway without having an easily-accessible handrail to grip.
In other cases, handrails may be poorly maintained. For instance, when the user grips the handrail (expecting it to handle the force that they’re exerting), it may loosen, twist, and come apart, causing the user to fall and injure themselves.
Visibility is critical to safe stairway design — not just at night, but also for giving users the ability to correctly judge the size, height, and angle of each step as they make their way up or down. Failure to adequately illuminate a stairway (whether by design, or improper maintenance, causing the stairway lights to be unlit) can expose users to an unreasonable risk of injury. Even careful users can easily injure themselves by taking a wrong step up or down the stairs in poor visibility conditions.
Steeper steps require more energy to navigate and can therefore be quite dangerous for overweight, old, or injured/ill users. Further, if a user slips and falls, then the injuries are much more likely to be severe. Steep steps are not illegal, of course, so one way that defendants may attempt to secure steep stairways is by installing handrails, or even offering an alternative, safer way of going up or down on the given property.
Contact a Qualified Fort Myers Personal Injury Lawyer for a Free and Confidential Consultation
Randall Spivey has years of experience advocating on behalf of injured plaintiffs in a variety of Florida disputes, including those that involve stairway slip-and-fall and trip-and-fall accidents.
"We are thoughtful, comprehensive, and client-oriented in our approach to litigation," said Randall Spivey. We take the time to engage with our clients and investigate the case (and the circumstances surrounding the injury) more closely, which gives us deep insight into the nature of the injury claims at issue and how best to proceed to secure maximum compensation.
Call (888) 477-4839 or submit a message online to schedule a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation with experienced Fort Myers personal injury lawyer Randall Spivey at the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.