Stairway Falls Mean Worse Injuries
According to the National Safety Council, falls are the number two cause of fatalities in the workplace, second only to vehicle crashes. And there are several reasons why a stairway fall is worse than a fall on a flat surface.
No matter how it happened, if you suffered injuries in a fall on someone else’s property, you should call a New Jersey premises liability lawyer. It could be that another person’s negligence was to blame for the accident, and you may be able to recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and more. Call (609) 240-0040 to speak to Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C., about your options.
Stairs Are Common
Over half of all residences in the United States include some type of stairway inside or outside the home. Stairways are also found in commercial properties, businesses, and outdoor venues and entertainment facilities. Most people use stairways every day and think nothing of it, and this is one of the biggest dangers of stairways—people forget their innate hazards. Not only do most pedestrians not focus on safely maneuvering stairways, but they go one step further. Many people can be seen walking up or down a stairway while talking on a cellphone, reading something, checking the time, or chatting with another person. In short, distraction is a leading cause of accidents on stairways.
In addition, most people don’t think to use the safety handrails, or they aren’t available. These safety features are seen as something for children or older adults, but not necessary for the average person. When a person is not gripping a handrail and does begin to lose his or her footing, there is often no time to reach the handrail and reduce the chance of a fall and a significant injury.
Unsafe Conditions Play a Role
Unsafe conditions also play a major role in stairway falls. In a home, this can be something as simple as a pair of shoes being left on the landing that create a tripping hazard. It may surprise you to know that in New Jersey, it is the responsibility of home and business owners to maintain a safe property. This includes keeping walkways and stairways clear and clean for lawful visitors. In a commercial building, this includes things like proper snow and ice removal in the harsh New Jersey winter, and providing floor mats to dry shoes when employees and customers enter from a rainstorm. The last thing any property owner wants is to be facing a lawsuit from a person who was seriously injured on his or her property.
Why the Injuries Are Worse
The combination of gravity and hard edges makes stairways far more dangerous for a fall. A slip at the top of a standard flight of stairs can lead to a fall of twelve feet. In that distance, there are 16-18 hard edges that your body can hit at various angles, with most of your full body weight. This can result in a tumble that will cause injuries to all of your extremities, your head, and even your torso. And due to gravity and forward momentum, you are not likely to stop until you have reached the bottom of the staircase. Compared to a fall on level ground, you are falling over twice the distance and encountering nearly 20 times as many potentially dangerous obstacles on a staircase.
Many times, when a person slips and falls, others will think it’s a humorous thing. But a fall on a stairway is anything but funny. Some injuries that can result from a fall on stairs include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, compressed discs or slipped discs in the spine, and nerve damage. These injuries are not only painful—they can be life-altering for the victim. For an older victim, issues related to the fall can last for the rest of the victim’s life.
A Property Owner’s Responsibility
Property owners must maintain their stairways in a safe condition for everyone who uses them legally. This includes providing adequate lighting, a dry surface, a safe handrail that allows a person to grip with the entire hand (not just fingers), and an obstruction-free path. As a person using a stairway, it is important to pay attention to what you are doing, grasp the handrail, look for objects on the stairs or moisture that could cause a hazard, and place your feet fully onto each step runner to avoid falling.
If you have been the victim of a fall on a stairway, consult the New Jersey slip-and-fall lawyers at Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C., by calling (609) 240-0040 to schedule a free consultation. With over 25 years of experience, Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C., has represented many stairway fall victims. Some recent settlements include $2.3 million settlement for an apartment complex fall injury, over $500,000 for a slip-and fall-injury in a condominium complex, and $375,000 for a victim of injuries sustained on a slip-and-fall accident.
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