There are different types of fall accidents, from slip and fall accidents on ice, to trip and fall accidents on an uneven sidewalk, to fall accidents on steps or a stairway.
Why Stairway Accidents Happen
PA stairway accidents happen for various reasons. A common reason is due to the improper maintenance or care of the stairway.
Many stairways in public establishments such as hotels, conference halls, restaurants and commercial office buildings have a stair tread on each step or a stair runner on the steps. This is especially true if the steps are made of wood or marble. The purpose of the treads and runners is to prevent pedestrians from falling down the steps.
However, over time, the treads and runners may get old and start to fall apart due to the wear and tear caused by countless pedestrians walking on the steps. A tread may start to detach from the step, and a rug runner may start to fray, all of which cause tripping hazards for the people walking on the steps. Injured individuals may be able to financially recover for the injuries resulting from the stairway fall accident. This article will discuss responsible parties and what injured individuals can do after the accidents in public establishments.
Owners of public establishments and commercial buildings have a duty to keep the stairways in the premises safe and free from unreasonably dangerous conditions. When the stair treads are detaching or the runners are fraying, owners have a duty to maintain and fix the treads and runners. If they do not, they may be held responsible for a patron’s fall accident.
Consider the following: a guest staying at a hotel in Philadelphia, PA is walking down the stairs to go to a coffee shop inside the hotel. The stairway is covered with a stair runner; however, the runner is in a state of disrepair. On several steps, the runner is worn, frayed and the step under the runner is exposed. The guest is wearing high heels, and her heel gets caught in the worn and frayed runner. As a result, she tumbles down the stairs. She suffers serious back and neck injuries, including 2 herniated discs in her neck.
In this scenario, the hotel may be liable for the guest’s fall and injuries so long as it had notice of the condition of the stair runner, which will be discussed in the next section.
Other than the hotel, there may be other responsible parties. If the hotel hired a contractor to fix and/or replace the runner, but the contractor just patched up the holes in the rug improperly, the contractor may be responsible for the guest’s injuries.
Pennsylvania stairway fall accident law provides that parties responsible for the stairway’s condition can only be found liable if they had notice of the dangerous condition. There are two types of notice: actual and constructive.
In the above example, the hotel would have had actual notice if another guest told hotel employees about the decrepit stair runner 2 weeks prior to the accident. The hotel would also have actual notice if its employees noticed the decrepit stair runner, but failed to do anything about it, i.e., have someone fix it.
The hotel would have had constructive notice if it should have known about the worn stair runner. For instance, a hotel employee is supposed to walk around the hotel to make sure everything is in working order, and guests are not exposed to any dangerous conditions. However, for whatever reason, he does not notice the decrepit stair runner. If he was inspecting the premises properly, he would have noticed that the runner needed to be replaced or fixed. Therefore, the hotel would be liable for the guest’s injuries because it should have known about the dangerous tripping condition on the stairway.
What to Do After a Philadelphia Stairway Fall Accident
After a stairway fall accident, injured individuals are often in shock and may not know what to do. They may quickly get up and walk away because they are embarrassed. Below are some things individuals who fall in public establishments may do after stairway fall accidents.
- Take pictures. If possible, the injured victim should try to take pictures of the stairs. If they are with other people, they can take pictures for them. If it’s not possible to take pictures after the fall, perhaps have a friend or relative go back and take pictures of the stairway. If one waits too long, the steps may be fixed after the accident. Having pictures of the steps can help establish the condition of stairway if the injured victim files a personal injury lawsuit later.
- Report the fall accident. Individuals who have fall accidents in hotels, restaurants, stores and other public establishments should inform the staff of their falls. An employee will most likely create an incident report and record details of the accident. The employee may also indicate what caused the guest to fall. The report may become helpful later in a PA stairway fall accident lawsuit.
- Seek medical treatment. It is important for injured victims to seek medical treatment after stairway fall accidents. Some may think they are okay after the fall, but in reality, they may have seriously injured themselves. The tumble down the stairway may have resulted in herniated discs in the spine.
Help After a Philadelphia, PA Stairway Fall Accident – We offer FREE consultations. Our office is located on Walnut Street, just blocks from City Hall. (866) 641-0806
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