Proving Fault in a Staircase Slip and Fall Accident - Neufeld Kleinberg & Pinkiert, PA
An experienced Florida law firm provides an overview of a staircase slip and fall accident and how to prove fault and liability.
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Fault in a Staircase Slip and Fall Accident

Proving Fault
in a Staircase Slip and Fall Accident

By: Jason Neufeld
Posted in: slip and fall lawyer

Staircase Slip and Fall Lawyer

When we think of slip and fall accidents, we think of spills, puddles, and Wet Floor signs. There are many types of conditions that can cause slip and falls. But a slip and fall accident can also happen on stairs.

Every year, thousands of people slip, trip, and fall on staircases. Staircase accidents can cause serious injuries and even death. Just like property owners can be liable for slip and fall accidents on the floor, they can also be liable for slip and fall accidents on stairs.

To prove liability in slip and fall accidents, you need to show that:

  • The property owner or an employee caused the hazard that resulted in an accident – a spill, a worn part of the flooring, or some other dangerous condition.
  • The owner or an employee knew about the dangerous hazard but didn’t do anything to fix it.
  • If an owner or an employee didn’t actually know about the hazard, they should have known, because a reasonable person would have discovered the condition and taken care of it.
  • You weren’t careless or negligent yourself.

These factors need to be shown in regular slip and fall cases to prove liability, but stairs can be a bit trickier. Here are some of the other aspects to consider:

Slippery surfaces.

If the stairs are made of carpet, wood, or another material, it’s possible that the surface has been worn down from use. You might be able to notice extreme wear and tear on stairs. But slightly worn stairs can be especially dangerous because you’re most likely not going to notice the hazard.

Also, if someone falls on polished stairs, the owner may be liable, because they didn’t put safety above aesthetics.

Wet surfaces.

Outdoor stairs can be affected by weather conditions, such as rain, ice, and snow. You are expected to be cautious during these weather conditions. But an owner also has to ensure there isn’t any build-up and that the stairs are maintained properly. Otherwise, the owner may be liable for your injuries.

Building codes.

 The Florida Building Code can be found online (click the link). Property owners and builders have to follow building codes that also have specific requirements for stairs, such as:

  • Certain types of stairs must have handrails. So if you slip and fall on stairs that should have those handrails, owners may be liable if the handrail could have prevented the fall. Also, handrails usually have to be a specific height or width. If you reach for a rail at the wrong height and fall, the owner could be liable.
  • Improper stair height and depth. The riser – vertical part of the step – and the run – horizontal part of the step – have a minimum and maximum height and depth in building codes. If the stairs aren’t in line with the code, they are defective, and the owner could be liable.
  • Uneven stair height and depth. Building codes provide the differences allowed in the height or depth going from one step to another. We unconsciously track the distance between stairs as we walk, so if one is off, we may slip and fall.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a staircase slip and fall accident, contact an experienced Florida slip and fall lawyer to know your rights and see if you’re entitled to compensation.