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Stair Accidents: Proving Fault

Liability for Slip and Fall Cases Involving Stairs

Property owners can be at fault for those victims who slip and fall on their properties. When it comes to stairs, there are some other dangers that must be taken into consideration to determine if the property owner is liable or not. In today’s article, we’re going to discuss what these dangers are and assist you in determining whether or not you have grounds for a successful claim against the property owner.

Building Codes For Stairs

Any Los Angeles injury lawyer can reveal that each town has its own building codes that must be followed during the construction process. These are to protect both the homeowner and visitors to their property. When it comes to building codes regarding stairs, most towns have many of the same code requirements.

Uneven Stair Height And Depth

Any slip and fall lawsuit attorney in Los Angeles will reveal that code requirements are all about ensuring that stairs are at the same height and depth. Our brains are hardwired to approach each step like we did the last one before it. If you throw in a step that is a different height or width, our brain isn’t likely going to notice until we trip and fall.

Wrong Stair Height And Depth

Another aspect of local building codes is setting the minimum and maximum height and depth for a staircase. Your fall injury attorney in Los Angeles will research what these requirements are for your town when starting your case. In general, they’re broken down by the riser and the run.

The riser is the back part of the step that your toes point towards when ascending a staircase. The run is the flat part that you step on. If these are not at the adequate height and width as prescribed by the building code, they’re considered defective. As a side note, you’ll still need to prove why the defect made you fall to win your case.


This is the most common stair defect any slip and fall accident injury lawyer will look for after an injury occurs. Certain types of stairs must have a handrail to protect the safety of those who use them. In most states, staircases with three or more steps are required to have handrails. Those under two usually are not.

In addition to the handrail being present on a select staircase, the size and position of that handrail can come into play as well. Each town’s building code will have a select size handrail that must be used on all staircases that require a handrail to be installed. The height of the handrail from the run of the step will have a specified distance as well. Both of these need to be followed for the handrail to be legal.

Again, it’s important to remember that you need to prove that the defect was the reason for your injury. Any trip and fall accident lawyer in Los Angeles can direct you to knowledgeable resources to determine what your local building codes are. As long as there was a defect in the staircase construction, you may have a valid slip and fall case.

Slippery Surfaces

Another common factor involved in many slip and fall cases that happen on a staircase is the state of the run. As you learned above, the run is the part of the stair that you step on. Your Los Angeles injury attorney can reveal some of the hidden dangers that can cause runs to be slippery. The most common culprits are worn down carpeting and worn down wood steps.

In some cases, the property owner may have had the steps built out of a naturally slick material. These materials include tile or highly-polished wood. These can wreak havoc on your ability to naturally be stable on the step. Your slip and fall attorney may be able to argue that the property owner sacrificed safety for the beauty of the staircase.

Outdoor Staircases

One factor that tends to be common with slip and falls on outdoor staircases is the weather. When these outdoor steps get icy or wet from rain, snow, or ice, they can become extremely slippery. It’s the property owner’s responsibility to remove the excess buildup from these surfaces. While visitors are responsible for taking extra precautions when adverse weather conditions hit, they can still sue the property owner if the steps weren’t dutifully maintained in a safe manner.

Understanding Liability For Slip And Falls

Just going through all the information above can have your head spinning regarding staircase liability. While it’s highly advisable to seek out the experienced assistance of an injury settlement attorney in Los Angeles, we’re going to go over some broad areas of liability. In general, the property owner can be liable for your slip and fall injury in the event that one of the following is true:

  • The property owner knew about the danger that the stairs possessed but did nothing about it.
  • The property owner was responsible for creating the dangerous surface. This could be a property owner who spills something on their stairs or one that consistently wears down the steps without doing anything to maintain them.
  • The property owner should’ve reasonably anticipated the danger of the slip and fall and remedied it.

Before evaluating the fault of the property owner, the judge will evaluate any carelessness on your part that could have contributed to your injuries. This includes things like where you went, the manner you used the staircase, and so forth. Their objective is to determine if there is fault to be placed with both parties or just one.

Any slip and fall law firm can tell you that these are some of the most difficult cases to predict. Since the staircase environment is different for each case, it will take some necessary understanding of the circumstances to determine who is at fault. For this reason, you should always opt for hiring a trip and fall settlement lawyer in Los Angeles to set yourself up for the best chance of being successful with your case.

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