Have you recently suffered an injury from a fall on a staircase? If so, then you may be wondering if you have a so-called "slip and fall" case against the property owner. This is not always easy to determine, as there are various factors to consider before committing yourself to a potentially time-consuming legal case. Here is a look at some of the key considerations involved.
One key question to ask is if the stairs properly maintained. If they were in disrepair and the neglect caused your injury, then you may have a strong case. The owner of the property has an obligation to keep the stairs in working order. If he does not do so due to carelessness or inattention, he may owe you damages for your injuries.
If you live in an area with cold winters, then ice may build up on outside stairs during the winter months. This could cause you to fall if the stairs are not kept free of ice. For example, let's say that you live in an apartment building where ice regularly builds up on the stairs outside of the entrance. If this problem is brought to the attention of the owner or manager and nothing is done, the property owner could be liable if you fall on the steps and suffer an injury.
You could also have a convincing case if the stairs are not within building code guidelines. For instance, does the staircase have a handrail? If not, this might mean the stairway is not in compliance with the local building codes, a fact that might strengthen your case against the property owner. Also, building codes have rules for the height and width of each step. If the stairs are do not conform with these specific regulations, your lawyer could argue that lack of compliance might have contributed to your fall.
One key legal point to keep in mind is a legal concept called "comparative negligence." The term refers to the possibility that your own carelessness may have contributed to your fall. For example, was there a sign near the stairs warning people that they were slippery or in disrepair? If you ignored this type of warning, or fell because your were going down the stairs too fast, your case may be undermined.
Determining whether a property owner can be held responsible for fall on a staircases is very difficult for the average person. For expert advice, contact an attorney who specializes in slip and fall cases, such as Putnam Lieb.