Many people use stairways on a regular basis throughout the day or may have stairs in their homes. When maintained properly, stairs are perfectly safe when used with caution. But when a property owner fails to use reasonable care and skill when maintaining a property that features stairs, the outcome can be a painful and life-altering accident. At Abels & Annes, our team of diligent Phoenix premises liability attorneys is available to assist you with determining whether you are entitled to compensation after suffering a stairway accident.Staircase Accidents
Tumbling down a flight of stairs, even if it is a short set, is no minor accident. In the worst scenarios, the victim may end up losing his or her life or suffering permanent disabilities as a result of the fall. Even less serious injuries can create major disruption through pain, medical treatment, or being unable to work.
Broken bones are a common outcome of staircase accidents if the victim falls in an unnatural way or lands incorrectly. For many people, putting an arm out to brace a fall is a natural reaction. When falling a great distance at high speed, however, a broken arm can result from this impulse.
Head and brain injuries are also common if the victim strikes his or her head while falling. Traumatic brain injuries can have a devastating impact on the victim, including chronic concussions, trouble sleeping, mood swings, reduced cognitive ability, and personality changes.Common Causes of Stairway Injuries
A few factors that can lead to stairway accidents include:
- Broken floorboards
- Uneven floorboards
- Unsteady handrails
- A lack of handrails
- Poor lighting
- Uneven stair risers
- Carpeting with rips or holes
There are many housing codes that govern how staircases must be constructed and maintained, which can provide a victim with more information about whether the stairway involved in his or her injury had a dangerous defect. A seasoned premises liability attorney can help you review and gather all appropriate evidence in support of your claim.Seeking Compensation After Your Staircase Accident
The first step to recovering compensation in a personal injury case is to file a claim against the person who caused your injuries. A staircase accident is a type of premises liability case. This area of personal injury law can be utilized to hold property owners and controllers responsible for the injuries that result from their careless or reckless management of a property.
A person who does not own a property but who is responsible for its control can also be held liable. Under Arizona law, if that person is an employee of the property owner, then the property owner can be held liable for his or her employee’s carelessness. Based on these rules, it is usually a good idea to name any potential party who may be responsible for your injuries in the lawsuit.
The next step in the claim or lawsuit involves showing that the defendant failed to maintain the property in good condition. The level of care that the property controller or owner owes you depends on your relationship to the property. There are three classes of guests.
- The highest level of care is owed to invitees, who are persons invited to the property for a business reason. An example would be shoppers at a supermarket. The controller or owner has a duty to inspect for unsafe conditions and to make repairs or provide warnings.
- Next, licensees are people who have permission to be on the property, such as friends or family. The property controller or owner has a duty to repair or warn against any non-obvious dangers. If kids are visiting, then the duty to provide warnings increases.
- Finally, trespassers are owed the lowest duty of care. In general, the property controller or owner cannot inflict any intentional harm against a trespasser such as by setting traps. If the trespasser is a child, however, the landowner can be held liable if the child was injured by something attractive on the property like a swimming pool. The landowner is required to take reasonable steps to protect children that they know could be attracted to the dangerous condition.
- To help show that the defendant breached their duty of care to you as a guest, obtain evidence at the scene where you fell, including photographs and eyewitness contact information.
- If you fall in a business, like a store, make sure to report the accident to the owner or management.
- Seek medical care if you sustain injuries. Do not refuse an ambulance ride if you are in pain.
- Call an injury lawyer ASAP. Depending on the circumstances, a lawyer may want to send an architect to the scene. Our office sometimes has an expert at an accident location within 24 hours after starting work on a claim. This is done to determine liability, take measurements and high-resolution photos, and find out what, if any, code violations are present.
When it comes to compensation, the defendant can be held liable for your:
- Past and future estimated medical expenses
- Missed wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of normal life
Understanding your legal rights and ensuring that you assert them to the fullest extent following an accident can be challenging. A dedicated premises liability lawyer can help you assemble your case following a stairway accident in Phoenix. If you have questions about your rights and want to discuss your potential remedies, call our office today at (602) 819-5191 or contact us online to get started.