Stairways are necessary to get around in many multi-story New York City buildings, as the bustle of this metropolitan hub has forced property owners to “build up” rather than expand. Because of that, thousands of people must use complex staircases and stairwells every day to reach their front doors, or to escape in the event of a serious emergency.
If your landlord has failed to properly maintain the stairwells in and around your building, then he or she can be held accountable for that negligence. Stairs already present a serious trip-and-fall hazard, especially for children and elderly residents. When stairwells are defective or fail the standard of “reasonably safe to use,” it isn’t just an inconvenience: It can quickly become a life-and-death situation.
Common Examples of Stairway Negligence
Tenants are given certain legal rights in the state of New York. Foremost among these rights is the right to a safe and secure method of exiting the building. Although elevators are commonplace at most buildings, city fire codes also require staircases, fire escapes, and other ways of leaving the building in a crisis.
To meet these standards, all publicly accessible stairwells and common areas have to be functioning and free of obstructions at all times. If the steps are under maintenance work, there should be signs clearly indicating that they are not safe to use during the repairs. Under a concept called “premises liability,” when property owners do not exercise due diligence in maintaining their stairwells, they may be liable for covering any injuries you sustain.
These are some of the most common stairway defects that can be caused by negligence:
- Broken or missing steps
- Unclear edges to stairs
- Absence of quality lighting
- Missing or broken handrails/guards
- Hazardous debris and clutter
- Exposed screws or sharp wood edges
- Crumbled stone or brick
- Uneven steps
- Untethered carpeting or rugs
- Layers of ice (for outdoor stairways)
The True Risks of a Trip-and-Fall Injury
It may not sound dangerous, but up to 2.3 million people head to the ER each year for trip-and-fall injuries, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While not all stairwell injuries can classify as life-altering or catastrophic, many of them are — and the injury risks only grow with age, with more than 60% of all nursing home residents suffering serious fall injuries annually.
The most common injuries that result from falling downstairs include:
- Lacerations and cuts
- Fractures and broken bones
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Spinal cord injury
- Internal bleeding and organ damage
- Perforations from foreign objects
- Back and neck injuries
Get the Powerful Representation You Need
If you’ve been hurt after slipping, tripping, or falling down a defective staircase, you will likely need extensive medical treatment and care. For a chance at securing full compensation, turn to our skilled legal team at Silbowitz, Garafola, Silbowitz & Schatz, L.L.P. We have over a century of combined experience helping NYC residents get the compensation they deserve from negligent landlords, and ensure that no one else has to suffer from the same injuries.