Slip & Fall Accidents: Defective Stairs

If you have suffered injuries after slipping and falling on someone else’s property, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit if there were negligent conditions, such as defective stairs. Stairs can be defective and hazardous if they:

  • Are not uniform in height. California Code of Regulations § 3231 outlines the specific height and depth measurements that stairways should adhere to. If the stairs are uneven or not to code, the property owner may be held liable.

  • Do not have a landing. California Code of Regulations § 1626 outlines the specifications and conditions that require stairways to have landings. If you slipped and fell on stairs that were not up to code because they didn’t have a landing, the property owners may be held liable.

  • Are not well maintained. Property owners should ensure that the stairs do not have protruding nails and are not slippery (see California Code of Regulations § 1626). If you were injured because of the poor condition of the stairs, the property owner may be held liable.

  • Do not have handrails. California law mandates that certain stairways have a handrail. If you were injured on a stairway that should have a handrail but didn’t, the property owner may be held liable (see California Code of Regulations § 3214).

  • Do not have slip-resistant flooring. California Building Code § 1224.4.11 states that slip-resistant flooring in specific areas, including stairways. If slippery conditions and inappropriate flooring contributed to your injuries, the property owners may be held liable.

  • Are wet or icy. Outdoor stairs should be built and maintained to prevent the buildup of water or ice (from dangerous weather conditions). If the stairs are not slip-resistant and/or there was no signage warning about the slippery surface, the property owner may be held liable.

Slip & Fall Stairway Accidents: Proving Fault

For a property owner to be held liable for your injuries, one (or more) of the following conditions must be met:

  • The property (specifically the stairs) has unsafe conditions regardless of the owner’s knowledge of these hazards.

  • The property owner knew that the stairs posed a threat but did nothing to correct their issues.

  • The property owner should have known about the stairs’ condition as a “reasonable” person would have discovered and/or repaired the damaged stairs.

What to Do After a Slip & Fall Accident

While you may be overwhelmed after you injure yourself, the following actions should be taken:

  • Inform the property owner or an employee that you injured yourself on the stairs. As soon as possible, you should report the incident. Some commercial properties have accident report forms that you may be asked to (but are not required to) complete. Taking this action ensures that the incident is recorded (especially if there are no witnesses). After they’ve been informed, the owners or staff can also take actions (like putting up signs or roping off the area) to prevent others from also suffering an accident.

  • Obtain pictures of the stairs and your injuries. If you are able, you should take pictures of the stairway from multiple angles before you leave the scene. Taking pictures of your injuries before and after treatment can also be beneficial as these photos can later be used as evidence. If you are unable to take the pictures, consider asking a friend or associate if they are with you. If poor weather conditions on outdoor stairs contributed to your injuries, photos are especially important as these conditions vary.

  • Get medical treatment. You should immediately see a doctor, especially if you are injured. The severity of your injury and/or your pain and suffering may be called into question by the other party if you didn’t get medical help. Also, your medical records will reflect how you were injured, which can help substantiate your claim.

  • Contact our personal injury lawyers. The sooner you contact our slip and fall attorneys the better. We can help you navigate filing a claim, gathering evidence, negotiating a settlement, etc.There are time limits (referred to as a statute of limitations) on how long you have to bring a slip and fall lawsuit forward. If the accident occurred on public property, you must file within 6 months of the date of the accident. For private property owners, you have 2 years from the date of the accident to file.

Compensation for Stairway Accidents

With slip and fall claims, you can receive three types of damages (compensation):

  • Economic damages, which compensate you for the actual financial loss you incurred because of the injury such as medical bills, prescription costs, physical therapy, damage to personal property, and lost wages. Because these damages are the easiest to calculate and identify (via invoices or pay-stubs), many people believe this total is all that they are entitled to be reimbursed for, which is why you need a reliable attorney. Insurance companies and/or adjusters may try to get you to settle with only these damages included in their offer.

  • Non-economic damages, which compensate you for the injuries you’ve sustained that do not have an exact price such as pain and suffering.

  • Punitive damages, which are rarer as they do not aim to compensate you for your losses but instead aim to punish the defendant for extremely negligent and reckless behavior.

What Is Comparative Negligence?

If you are partially at fault for the accident, the amount of damages you receive will be affected (see California Civil Jury Instructions No. 405). Because of California’s comparative negligence system, a percentage of blame can be assigned to both the plaintiff (you/the filing party) and the defendant (the property owner/respondent).

For instance, let’s say you weren’t paying attention as you went down the stairs because you were texting. So the defense can argue that you are partially at fault. You are found to be 25% for the accident, so your damages will be reduced by that percentage. If your damages totaled $100,000, then you would only receive $75,000.

Contact Our Personal Injury Attorneys

At Frish Law Group, our attorneys have decades of experience helping clients fight to receive compensation for their slip and fall accident injuries. Once you retain us, our team can work to help you:

  • Determine what damages you are owed

  • Understand your potential liability

  • Gather evidence (like pictures, videos, or witness statements)

  • Navigate the legal system (by helping you prepare court, understand court etiquette, etc.)

You can trust that we will aggressively advocate for you to receive the compensation you need and deserve. We also understand how much of a financial strain being injured due to someone else’s negligence can be, which is why you will only pay for our help if we win your case.

To schedule a case consultation, please reach out to our legal team online or at (818) 480-3885.