The owner of property containing stairs is responsible for the general maintenance and safety of stairways, including the floor, handrails, stair coverings, and lighting. Stairways should be constructed according to any applicable laws, and any warnings that may be necessary to ensure the public’s safety should be posted.
For an owner to be held liable for an injury related to stairways, the injury must be directly connected to an evident defect or to the lack of proper maintenance on the owner’s part. Just because a person is injured while traversing a flight of stairs does not necessarily mean there is a defect in the stairs.
In some cases, the stair owner may be liable for injuries due to negligence if:
- The stair surface is worn and dilapidated to the extent that there is a risk of injury
- The stair surface has become smooth and slippery because of too much wear
- A wooden stair is dilapidated and rotting
- Debris is present on the staircase and the owner or an employee is responsible for its presence
If the debris is from a third party, the owner may or may not be liable. However, if the owner had adequate time to remove the debris but didn’t and an injury resulted, the owner may still be liable. The primary concern here is whether the owner knew of the existence of the potentially dangerous condition.
For example, mold growing on stairs would indicate a long presence, and that the owner might not have been properly maintaining the stairs. But if a third party drops something on the stairs, and a few minutes later someone slips on it, the owner may not be liable because he may not have had sufficient time to remove it from the stairs.
In addition, the owner may not be liable if an injury is caused by the injured party’s own negligence. For example, if a person was simply not paying attention and consequently fell down the stairs, the stair owner would probably not be held accountable for any injuries.
Roberts & Roberts focuses on helping people who have been injured in accidents or because of negligence. Contact us to schedule your free consultation with our experienced personal injury legal team for the compassionate representation you deserve.