Staircases are common sites for accidents in the home as well as on commercial properties. Each year, thousands of people are injured or killed because of stair-related accidents like slip and fall, and many of these tragedies could have been prevented with some simple awareness and maintenance.
Stairs, both indoor and outdoor, are prone to breakdown because of age, the elements, and frequent usage. Property owners have the responsibility of making sure that stairs and handrails are in good shape; if they fail to do so, they may be liable for the victim’s injuries from an accident and have to pay for their medical bills, pain and suffering in a premises liability lawsuit.
Basic Staircase Inspection Highlights
Home maintenance organizations recommend inspecting stairs and rails at least once a year; more frequently if the stairs are in a heavy-use area or an outdoor space with extreme weather conditions.
A basic safety inspection of a staircase may include:
- checking for broken or eroded steps;
- ensuring that the handrail extends the full length of the staircase;
- making sure that handrails are not loose or wobbly;
- if staircase has a baluster (the “picket” part of the railing), making sure that the pickets are secure and have less than a 4” space between them; and
- checking for loose carpet nails that stick up, and other tripping and injury hazards.
These are only a few of the precautions property owners can take to help make their staircases safer. Unfortunately not all owners do all they can to protect the people who use their stairs. If you have been hurt on a flight of stairs and feel that owner negligence is involved, contact a personal injury attorney to learn your options.