Tripping or falling on a staircase is an incredibly frightening experience. Most falls people are likely to suffer are limited by the height of the person falling, but a staircase can extend for dozens of feet. A fall down a staircase is likely to result in significant injuries, and even a trip on a staircase can result in broken bones or badly damaged muscles.
Though there are a number of potential causes of staircase accidents, some are much more common than others, including slippery surfaces, uneven stair height or depth, and a lack of handrails. All of these afflict hundreds of apartment buildings and tenements as well as thousands of businesses and cause hundreds of falls a year.
Slippery surfaces are always dangerous whether staircases are involved or not, and thousands of falls take place due to them every year. But these surfaces are even more dangerous on stairs, where regaining balance is more difficult due to the height differentials from step to step. Building owners should be especially diligent regarding potential slipping hazards on staircases, including slippery materials used for construction, degradation of materials such as concrete over time, and environmental factors such as snow or ice dragged in on boots.
Uneven stair height or depth is an insidious hazard, as a person might traverse a staircase many times without noticing minor differences between steps. But as the human brain becomes accustomed to patterns in height and depth, even small discrepancies can become dangerous. This is particularly true if a person is carrying a box or other item and has to navigate the stairs without being able to see them.
Handrails are an absolute necessity for stair safety. When a person begins to slip and fall due to slippery surfaces, loose steps, or any other reason, the handrail is the best way to catch their weight to keep from taking the tumble. Unfortunately, many buildings lack handrails, or the handrails are insufficient to the task of keeping people safe.
If you or someone you love has been injured due to a fall down the stairs, determining whether or not proper safety features were installed is important. An experienced attorney can help you evaluate the scene for safety hazards that might have contributed to the accident.