Steps and staircases are trip and fall hazards for numerous reasons. It’s easy to trip or fall on a set of stairs if the
staircase is in dire need of repair or if there’s something on the stairs, obstructing the pathway down.

Every year, thousands of people trip or fall down stairs and the cause of the trip or fall could vary. It could be a simple accident due to the misjudgment or miscalculation of the injured party, or it could be due to the negligence of the property owner. Determining who is at fault is crucial in any accident case. If the property owner is not at fault – you have no case.

Different Types of Staircase Hazards

These are some of the top steps and staircase hazards that often lead to trips, falls, injuries and worse:

Slippery Stairs: Some staircase surfaces are more slippery compared to other types. For example, a floor that is highly-polished or made of slippery material such as tiling, could lead to a trip or fall. In this type of case, the property owner would be at fault.

Outdoor Hazards: In the great outdoors, there is a world of hazards just waiting to cause a trip or fall if left untreated. Hazards like rain, ice, snow, sand, wet leaves, and trash left on stairways. It is the property owner’s job to ensure that a set of outdoor stairs is always left clean, clear, and free of anything that could lead to a trip or fall – and dangerous situations.

Missing or Improperly Installed Handrails: Some cases involving trips and falls on stairs involve a missing handrail. In these types of cases, the property owner may be at fault. It will depend upon the type of staircase and the building code for that set of stairs. Additionally, handrails that have been improperly installed can also cause a trip or fall. Some handrails must meet certain height and width requirements prior to installation.

Defective Stairs: As a staircase ages, it is at risk of becoming defective. Signs of a defective staircase include wood that is rotting, wood that is buckling, and stairs that appear to be uneven in height or depth. A defective staircase would make a property owner liable.

Visibility: If a staircase is not well-lit and a fall takes place when the sun goes down, the property owner is most certainly at fault. Any staircase, regardless of its size must be well-lit to avoid a trip or fall situation.

Staircase Hazard Stats

  • It is estimated that every six minutes in the U.S., a child under the age of 5 falls down a flight of stairs, and that nearly 100,000 kids under age 5 are sent to the emergency room each year after falling down a set of stairs.
  • In 2001-2002, the American National Council on Compensation Insurance estimated that the cost of an injury related to a stairway fall is only second to an injury caused by a motor vehicle accident.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the Code of Federal Regulations requires that “floor openings for stairways, ladder-ways, and hatchways be guarded by either standing railings on all open sides or by floor opening covers of standard strength and accompanied by a removable railing with a toe board for infrequently used openings.”
  • Falls in the workplace is the third leading cause of workplace fatalities in the private industry.
  • Falls to a lower level in the workplace are the most frequent type of workplace fall.

Proving Liability

To prove that an injury caused during a trip and fall on a stairway, a few variables must be met. These variables include:

  • Any stairway defect, obstruction, or slippery condition was due to the negligence of the property owner or the employees of the premises.
  • The property owner or employees were aware of the issue at-hand and did nothing to prevent an accident from occurring. Repairs were not made; stairs were not cleared of snow or ice, etc.
  • The property owner failed to install or improperly installed a handrail, which resulted in a trip or fall and injury.

The best way to find out if the property owner is directly responsible for your injury, it is important to seek legal help with an emphasis in staircase and steps trip or falls.