What happens when someone is injured using the stairs? Stairways are everywhere in Philadelphia and are essential to provide access in buildings, subways, sidewalks and other places people need to go. If someone falls, who’s going to pay? Is it the fault of the injured for being clumsy or not watching where they are going?
The answer is in the details of the accident. To make a claim against the owner of the stairs, the victim must prove there was negligence.
Proving Fault in a Philadelphia Stairway Accident:
The bottom line it, a stairway must be safe for those who use it. Anytime someone is hurt on a stairway that’s on another person’s property—including stairs open to the public—the law requires very specific circumstances to be proven before the owner is required to pay compensation.
First, there must have been a hazardous condition that made the stairs unsafe that caused the accident. This can be anything that makes a stairway unsafe for people to use it. Second, the owner either knew or should have known about the 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.
Finally, if the owner created the unsafe condition by fixing something poorly or it was originally designed or made unsafe, this can make the owner liable as well.
What Makes a Stairway Unsafe?
There are many ways a stairway can be unsafe, and if an unsafe condition exists, the owner has a duty to fix so people can use the stairs free from injury.
Pennsylvania building codes give specific requirements for stairs depending on the type of stairs, the purpose of the stairs and where the stairs are being used. The purpose of the code is to make the stairs uniform in design and construction so that each stairway is safe for public use. Here are some common design hazards:
- Steps not deep enough/too deep.
- Height of each step too high or not high enough.
- Lack of anti-slip measures.
- Handrail too low or too high.
- Stairway too narrow.
These are just a few, and if anyone of these conditions exist and someone gets hurt, the owner could be held liable.
The owner of any property open to the public must take reasonable steps to make sure their stairs are maintained so people can use them safely. The law allows the owner to have a reasonable time after discovering the problem to fix it, but if this doesn’t occur and someone gets hurt, the owner can be made to pay for their injuries. Some of the ways stairs are negligently maintained are:
- Rotted steps.
- Loose steps/handrails
- Improperly repaired
- Newly repaired steps not in code
The repairs must be made properly with the safety of the users in mind, and must be done in a timely manner. If either of these aren’t the case, then the owner is open to injury claims.
Defenses to a Stairway Slip and Fall Claim
Pennsylvania Law also allows the owner of a stairway to claim certain defenses when someone makes a claim that they were injured as a result of an accident.
- The owner recently discovered the problem and not enough time had passed to give the owner a reasonable time to fix the problem.
- The owner routinely checked the stairs for problems in a reasonable timeframe, and the dangerous condition came about after one of the checks.
- The injury didn’t occur because of a hazardous or dangerous condition but from the negligence of the injured person.
Contact a Philadelphia Trip and Fall Injury Lawyer.
Have you been injured on a stairway? If so, you might wonder if you need an attorney. The safest answer is yes, you should at least talk to an attorney who can help you make an informed decision. Then if you decide you want to be represented, then you should call a Philadelphia Slip and Fall Attorney.
At The Pearce Law Firm, P.C., we’ve handled many slip and fall cases where someone was injured when on someone else’s property including stairways. 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.