Staircase Accidents: Who is Liable When You Fall Down a Flight of Stairs?Trusted Content
Legally reviewed by:Erik Abrahamson, J.D. March 13, 2017
Did you fall down a staircase? You Need an Injury Attorney in Tampa to Help You get Compensation
Falling down a flight of stairs can be a traumatic experience. While we take steps to protect our kids from falling, rarely do we think about ourselves slipping, losing our balance, or stepping on a faulty stair tread and taking a serious fall.
But, it happens. In fact, it happens all the time. According to a report published by Auburn University, which cited data from both the National Safety Council and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, falls are the second-leading cause of workplace fatalities, and they have been among the leading causes of workplace deaths for 40 years.
So, what if you fall at work? What if you fall on someone else’s property? What if you fall at home? Are you entitled to compensation; and, if so, who is liable for your injuries?
Seeking Compensation for Staircase Falls: Who Is Liable If…
You Fell At Work?
If you fell down the stairs at work, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation from your employer. In Florida, workers’ compensation is a “no-fault” system. This means that employers could pay regardless of whether they are at fault for their employees’ on-the-job injuries.
Note that we said, “on-the-job.” In order to file for workers’ compensation, you do not need to get injured while performing your specific job duties. If you fell walking to the bathroom or lunch room, you will likely still be eligible for workers’ compensation.
Importantly, filing for workers’ compensation may not be your only option. Workers’ compensation benefits are limited, and if someone (other than your employer) is to blame, you may be able to file a premises liability claim for full compensation. Building owners, subcontractors on construction sites, and other companies can all potentially be liable for staircase accidents at work.
You Fell While Running Errands?
If you fell while running errands – shopping or visiting your doctor, for example – you may have a claim against the owner of the facility or the owner of the business (or both). Businesses commonly lease storefronts and offices from commercial property owners; and, depending on the specific cause of your fall, both the landlord and the tenant could potentially be responsible.
As an example, suppose you fell because the staircase did not have a handrail. This is a scenario in which the property owner (or its property manager) would typically be liable. But, if you fell because a retailer cluttered the stairs in its store with merchandise, in that case the business owner would more likely be the liable party.
You Fell While Out on the Town?
If you fell during a night out, at a ball game, at an entertainment venue, or at the beach, the same rules discussed above apply. Depending upon where you fell and what caused you to fall, the property owner, property manager, and the business owner could all potentially owe you financial compensation.
You Fell at a Neighbor’s House?
If you fell down the stairs at a neighbor’s house, your neighbor may be liable as the property owner. However, since homeowner’s insurance policies cover most slip and fall accidents, your claim will most likely be against your neighbor’s insurance company – not your neighbor personally. Just like a claim against a commercial property or business owner, your insurance claim can seek both monetary and non-monetary damages (including medical bills, loss of income, and pain and suffering).
You Fell at Home?
If you fell down the stairs at home, there is still a chance that someone else could be liable for your injuries. For example, you could have a claim against the construction company that built your home; or, you may be entitled to compensation from a handyman who performed a negligent repair. Your legal rights will depend upon the unique facts of your particular case, and you should speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
10 Ways to Prove Someone Else Was at Fault for Your Staircase Fall
In order to recover compensation for your fall-related injuries, you will need to prove both: (i) the cause of the fall, and (ii) the extent of your physical, financial, and emotional harm. In addition to following our six tips for documenting a slip-and-fall case, here are 10 ways you can help your personal injury lawyer establish your injury claim for financial compensation:
- You Were Not Distracted – Distractions (such as talking or texting on the phone) can make you more likely to miss a step or overlook a dangerous condition.
- You Were by Yourself – Talking to another person on the stairs can be distracting, as well.
- You Have Witnesses – On the other hand, if anyone saw you fall, he or she may be able to testify as to what happened.
- You Have Photos of the Stairs – If you are able to do so, take photos of the staircase immediately after your accident to document the issue that caused your fall.
- You Were Wearing Safe Shoes – While it is more than acceptable to wear high-heeled or slick-bottomed shoes in an office setting, proving that you were wearing safe shoes can help support your claim.
- You Were Unencumbered – Carrying heavy objects or boxes that block your vision may increase your chances of falling down the stairs.
- You Were Unimpaired – Being drunk or under the influence of drugs can also increase your risk of falling.
- You Used the Handrail – Handrails are there for a reason. Using one when it is available may help reduce your risk of falling.
- You Could Not See the Unsafe Condition – Hidden dangers and inadequate lighting are both risk factors that can lead to staircase falls.
- You Were Not Skipping Stairs – Being able to testify that you were using the stairs property (e.g., not skipping stairs) can help prove that you were acting safely at the time of your fall.
Speak with a Slip-and-Fall Accident Lawyer in Tampa, FL
For more information about protecting your rights after a fall down the stairs, contact the Tampa, FL personal injury law offices of Abrahamson & Uiterwyk for a free consultation. Call (800) 538-4878, email us, or start a Live Chat to discuss your case with our injury and accident lawyers in confidence today.