When a handrail is loose and goes unrepaired, it can lead to falls and injuries. Handrails are everywhere. On stairways, along walkways, on elevators and wheelchair inclines. What makes a faulty one so dangerous is that we rely on these thinking we can steady ourselves or pull ourselves up.
In other times, an owner might remove a handrail, or maybe one was never installed an it should have been. In either case, if a person either needs a handrail that isn’t there or relies on one that gives way, serious injuries can happen.
When the condition of a handrail makes it dangerous for someone to use the stairs or in incline, then the owner of the property where the rail is might be liable for any injuries that resulted from the hazard.
What Makes a Handrail Dangerous?
Handrails are there to keep people safe. They are put on a stairway so people can hold on to them while the navigate the stairs or incline where the handrail is. If the handrail is defective in some way, it is no longer safe but a hazard.
There are some of the most common conditions that make a handrail dangerous:
- Loose Handrail: If the handrail is loose, it might not provide the support for the person relying on it to use the stairs.
- Rough Surface: A hand rail shouldn’t be rough and contain splinters or pieced of rusty metal that might get into someone’s skin and cause injury. It could also cause someone to pull their hand back and then fall.
- Disrepair: A handrail must be sturdy in good shape for a person to rely on it to keep them safe. Rotted wood, rusted metal, broken sections and other conditions of disrepair can render a handrail unsafe.
- Missing Handrail: According to Pennsylvania building code, handrails are required for any indoor or outdoor stairway with more than two steps or a porch or deck with a drop off of 18 inches or more. This is to ensure that people won’t fall or stumble. If a handrail is missing when it’s supposed to be there, it is a hazard.
- Improper Handrail: The same code also says that a handrail must be placed between 30 and 37 inches from the stairs and be at the same incline/decline as the stairs. When it is too low or too high or in some other way not placed correctly, it could be considered a hazard to those who use it.
Types of Handrails
Any handrail can become a hazard if either not installed properly or allowed to be in disrepair, and handrails are in many places where people rely on them. Some of the most common places for handrails in Philadelphia are:
- Apartment stairways
- Stores and businesses
- Fire escapes
- Exterior stairs in parks, public areas
- Entertainment venues like Lincoln Field in Philadelphia or one of the many concert halls like the Filmore or The Kimmel Center.
- Police Stations
- Tourist Areas like the Independence National Park or the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Proving a Handrail Injury
Proving a handrail caused and injury might not be too difficult, but proving that the owner is responsible for the handrail hazard can be. Pennsylvania law requires that a person injured by a handrail prove that the owner either knew or should have known about the hazardous condition and didn’t fix it in a timely manner. With this comes a duty to be on the lookout for problems and fix them in a reasonable time.
There is another way, and this is if the injured person proves that the owner improperly installed or repaired a handrail, then that would be considered negligence and the owner could be held liable.
Common Types of Handrail Injuries
Most handrail injuries come from a fall due to a faulty or missing handrail. Also, injury can come from a hazard on the surface of the handrail. The most common of these are:
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Severe Concussion
- Broken Hips
- Broken Wrists
- Other Fractures
- Severe sprains
- Severe cuts/splinters
If any of these are caused by the negligence of the owner or manager of the premises where the handrail is located, then the victim would have a claim for injuries.
Defenses to a Handrail Slip and Fall Claim
The reason it is so difficult to prosecute a slip and fall case, is because of the proof needed. To show that they don’t have liability when a handrail gave way, they can prove:
- That they weren’t given notice of the loose handrail, but that they routinely check for dangerous conditions and this one hadn’t been there that long, or
- Or that they knew loose bolt and were on their way to fix it in a reasonable amount of time, but the injury happened already, or
- If the claim is that they negligently installed/repaired the handrail, they need proof that they did it correctly.
Contact a Philadelphia Handrail Injury Lawyer.
After any major injury, speak to an attorney for a free consultation and case evaluation.
At The Pearce Law Firm, P.C., we’ve handled several types of fall cases where someone was injured when on someone else’s property. Insurance companies routinely deal with these cases, but it’s possible that this is your first—and hopefully only—one. They know how to pay you as little as possible or none at all and will often try to blame you for your injuries.
Contact us today for a free consultation and case evaluation after any type of accident which resulted in a serious injury.