It is hard to avoid stairs during daily life, whether they are in a building where you live, one in which you work, where your children attend school, or leading to a building’s front entrance. Stairs are everywhere and often present the only means to get from one area to another, requiring their use by those who wish to use a building or other establishment.
Most of the times, stairs are properly maintained and present minimal danger to those who use them, but unfortunately this is not always the case. Some stairways are in disrepair or neglected by an owner, creating a dangerous and unsafe condition unknown to those who wish to use the stairs. In other cases, stairs may be improperly designed or constructed which can lead to a patron stumbling or falling on the stairs, potentially leading to a serious injury.
In Chicago and across Illinois, many stairways are governed by municipal codes, requiring strict compliance of those who own and maintain stairways to make them safe and accessible. When a building’s owner fails to comply with this code and the failure causes one using the steps to become injured, the victim may be able to bring a claim against the owner for the damages incurred as a result of the owner’s negligence.
Most of the time, victims of stair injuries are unaware why they were hurt and whether it was due to any wrongdoing on the part of the building’s owner as most civilians are unaware of the intricacies that accompany municipal code regulations. This is one of the primary reasons that injury victims choose to consult with lawyers and attempt to learn whether their accident was caused by negligent conduct by one or more individuals.
Common Hazards in Stairways
While it may seem that all stairways are safe, in truth, many present obvious or hidden dangers that can lead to slipping, falling, stumbling, or tripping on the stairs or stair coverings.
A common threat to safety is a broken stair. This occurs when the stair itself or a portion of the stair’s support system is cracked, chipped, or broken, limiting the strength of the stair and leading to a further stair collapse. At times, a broken stair may be easy to visually identify if the break is obvious and the stairwell illuminated. In other cases, the broken stair may not be visibly discernible or may be obscured by carpeting or a rug. Placing weight on a broken stair can cause the stair to give way and the patron using the stairs to fall into the stairwell or to fall up or down the flight of stairs. Any of these situations can lead to injuries, including fractures, back and neck injuries, or even death.
Another common issue with stairways presents itself when water or another slippery substance is present in the area. This is most common in stairs that are outdoors, like stairs to a train platform, an outside deck or rooftop, or stairs under a leaky roof. Water that accumulates in an unnatural manner can pose a serious threat to safety and can lead to slip and falls on the stairs, whether the water remains liquid or freezes into ice. This type of stair accident claim can be legally complicated and it is a good idea to speak with a lawyer experienced in these matters if you become a victim of a slippery stairway.
Municipal Code Violations Can Cause Injuries
The codes that govern public property in a city or in a state exist for a reason. They are designed to increase safety while still making a building functional, letting the owner of the building continue to run his or her business but limiting the risks faced by patrons. In the case of stairs and stairways, municipal codes often govern many factors, including the height of individual steps, the slope or incline of the flight of steps, the presence or absence of handrails, and the degree to which the steps are able to curb or turn in a given area.
At Abels & Annes, P.C., we have experience representing accident victims who suffered injuries because an owner of property was not in compliance with local stairway codes. We know how serious injuries caused by noncompliance can be and we enlist licensed architects to examine, investigate, and measure the stairs at issue so we can pursue all avenues available to help our clients obtain a proper and fair recovery.
Municipal codes often govern the amount of light and location of light necessary in a stairwell, especially one that is enclosed on either side by walls. Failing to provide adequate lighting increases the chances that a person using the stairs will become injured, unnecessarily creating a hazard to residents or visitors of a building.
Stair Accidents in Chicago
If you have been injured in a stairway incident in Chicago, you may be entitled to a financial recovery for your damages against the individuals or companies responsible for the faulty stairway. This recovery can be sought through a civil claim brought by an injury lawyer and can include a claim for any medical bills you incurred, lost wages you were unable to earn, and pain and suffering you incurred as a result of your accident.
The laws in Chicago and Illinois require accident victims to bring claims within a specified period of time known as the statute of limitations. Failing to bring claims in this timely manner results in a victim’s inability to make any recovery for their accident, which means that anyone hurt in a stairway incident should consider speaking with a lawyer as soon as possible to make sure that the victim’s rights are protected and that a recovery is possible.
At Abels & Annes, P.C., we provide a free telephone consultation to all injury victims and we have a lawyer standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week to take your call at (312) 924-7575 or toll free at (855) LAW-CHICAGO (529-2442). Following an accident, do not let yourself continue to be victimized. Call our legal team and let us get to work for you, helping you get the maximum award possible for your injuries and damages.
If you have been hurt in a stairway accident, call (855) LAW-CHICAGO or Contact Us online for a free case consultation.