When you are walking up or down a flight of stairs, do you watch your feet take every step? Probably not. If you are like most people, you scan the first few steps and the last few steps, but you allow your feet to do the rest. Even on stairs other than the ones in your own home, your brain assumes the next stair will be where it should be when you take the next step.
Unfortunately, a misstep on the stairs can lead to serious injuries. It is not unusual for fall victims to suffer broken bones, internal injuries, brain trauma or even spinal cord injuries that leave them partially or totally paralyzed. While you may be able to catch yourself if you trip over your own two feet, you may not be so fortunate if you stumble over an unexpected hazard.
The owner or manager of a public building has a responsibility for keeping the property safe for visitors like you. If you are in the building conducting business, shopping, keeping an appointment or for another legitimate purpose, you have a reasonable expectation of safety, including when using the stairs. Hazards that make stairs unsafe to use can include many things, for example:
- The stairs have a poor design, such as being too steep or too narrow.
- There is no landing, which is necessary to allow you a rest between flights and to help slow or stop your fall so you do not tumble all the way to the bottom of the staircase.
- The stairs do not have treads to prevent slipping, especially if the weather is damp, or the treads do not have contrasting colors to bring your attention to them.
- The building owner has not properly installed railings so that they are secured to a wall or other surface.
- The lighting in the stairway is poor either because the owner has not installed lights or no one has changed burned out bulbs.
- The building owner leaves clutter or other hazards on the stairs or landing, creating a tripping hazard.
Most commonly, stair accidents occur on stairways of only a few steps. These low stairways are difficult to see if they do not contain contrasting colors or signs to draw your attention to them. You may fall forward and suffer serious injuries.
If you have fallen on stairs in a public or government building, you do not have to suffer in silence from your injuries. A skilled attorney can assist you in filing a claim for compensation based on the negligence of the building owner to provide for your safety on the stairs.