Slips and falls are common accidents. They can happen in stairways, parking lots, hallways, elevators, escalators, apartment buildings, supermarkets and even private properties. Broken stairs and steps are often a common cause of slips and falls.
Stairways are not as safe as you think. Believe it or not, there are about two dozen ways in which stairs and steps can be dangerous. The next time you have to climb steps, you’ll want to think twice before you get too confident and start skipping steps or running down the stairway.
Stairway Accidents and Injury Statistics
According to the National Safety Council, stairways cause approximately 12,000 accident deaths and over one million injuries per year. In the workplace, falls are second-highest cause of fatalities, many of which involve stairs. Stair-related accidents result in nearly 1.2 million emergency room visits annually, as well as many subsequent liability claims and premise liability lawsuits.
Types of Unsafe Stairs and Steps
Stairs of all shapes, sizes, and types can be found all over New York City to enable pedestrians to travel from one building story to another. But while stairs are useful and provide good exercise, they can also be some of the most dangerous places in the city in terms of potential injuries and slip-and-fall lawsuits.
- Subway Station Stair Hazards
The subway system is how we get around in NYC, but station stairs can be particularly hazardous when they are damaged or affected by the weather. Avoid being distracted on your phone or rushing to catch the train to avoid stair injuries here.
- Apartment Building Stair Hazards
Many apartment buildings in NYC don’t have elevators and require you to walk up and down the stairs to leave or arrive home. Be mindful of groceries and other heavy, burdensome items you’re carrying up and down apartment stairs to avoid falls.
- Angled and Curved Stair Hazards
Unique stairs that are angled or curved are particularly challenging because they don’t allow much space for your feet to maneuver. Use extra caution on these stairs and hold onto handrails, if possible.
- Broken and Collapsed Stair Hazards
Stairs in any setting can become damaged due to weather or prolonged use over time. Pay attention to each step you take on stairs in case one might be broken, and promptly notify the appropriate authority to request it be repaired.
- Wet and Icy Outdoor Stair Hazards
Here in Brooklyn, we see more than our fair share of rain, snow, and ice. During and after adverse weather, wear sturdy shoes with high-quality treads to reduce slippage. Also, allow for extra time on your commute so you can climb stairs more slowly than normal.
- Stairs with No or Unsafe Handrails
Handrails can be wonderful additions to stairways, or they can pose additional dangers that result in severe injuries. A handrail that is too high, too low, too wide, or not secured properly can be worse than having no handrail at all. Test a handrail, by firming grabbing and shaking it a bit to gauge stability, at the top or base of stairs before relying upon it to climb up or down.
Loose stair treads and materials are also common and can lead to slips and falls. Stairs can be made of wood, brick, tile and other materials. Should any of these materials come loose, and you step on them, you could trip and fall, causing serious injuries.
Determining Negligence for Stair Accidents
One of the common distinctions made in determining negligence for a slip and fall accident is the state and city building code. As the NYC building code states “The owner shall be responsible at all times to maintain the building and its facilities and all other structures regulated by this code in a safe and code-compliant manner.”
The NYC Building Code specifically lays out the minimum requirements all interior and exterior stairways must meet including capacity, construction, width, handrails, and obstruction considerations. You can find the full details of the NYC Building Code here. If you suffered a slip and fall accident on a staircase that violates any of these requirements you may be entitled to compensation from the property manager.
Additionally, as we enter the winter seasons wet and icy outdoor stairs pose a risk for accidents to occur. If the stairs aren’t effectively treated with salt or other anti-slip agents the property manager could be found liable for any accidents that ensue.
How to Prevent Falls on Steps
While property managers are required to ensure your safety, you too can avoid slip and falls down stairs by taking the following precautions:
- Walk slowly. Never run or skip steps.
- Remove snow, leaves and other debris.
- Wear heavy, solid shoes. Avoid flip-flops and other flimsy footwear.
- Ensure adequate lighting. Avoid ascending stairs in the dark.
- Don’t store items on the steps or leave electrical cords on them.
- Remove rugs from the top of a stairway. These are trip hazards.
Get Legal Help from a Brooklyn Personal Injury Lawyer
If you fell down stairs or had a family member injured by broken stairs, seek legal help. Typically, a negligent home owner or property manager is to blame. It’s important to hold them liable so you can receive compensation for your injuries. Call the Law Office of Jeffrey K. Kestenbaum to schedule a consultation with an experienced Brooklyn slip and fall accident lawyer. Contact our Brooklyn office at (718) 237-5586.