Some of the most common injuries from falling down stairs include
- soft tissue injuries,
- broken bones and fractures, and
- head and neck injuries, including concussions and traumatic brain injuries.
In some cases, the victim was not at fault for the stairway accident. He or she may be able to bring a stairway accident lawsuit to recover damages.
What are some common injuries from falling down stairs?
The most common injuries that victims sustain from falling down stairs are:
- sprained tendons or strained muscles (32.3%),
- soft tissue injuries, like bruises and contusions (23.8%), and
- fractures (19.3%).1
These injuries can be relatively minor, or can be significant and debilitating. However, they are unlikely to be life-threatening. Among the remaining 24.6% of injuries, though, are some that are far more severe and absolutely require immediate medical attention. These more serious injuries include:
- internal bleeding,
- head injuries, including concussions and even traumatic brain injuries (TBI),
- neck injuries,
- back injuries, including chronic back pain,
- spinal cord injuries,
- facial trauma, and
- cuts and lacerations.
The age of the victim can predict the type of injury they suffer. For example, children under 10 years old are more likely to suffer a head or neck injury when falling down the stairs, while older adults over 60 are more likely to suffer a bone fracture. Additionally, women accounted for 62% of the victims.2
How often do these accidents happen?
Every year, over 1 million people are hurt from falling down stairs.
- 60% of these accidents happened at home.
- 94% of these victims were treated and released from the hospital.
However, the remaining 6% required hospitalization for further medical care.3
These accidents are disproportionately more likely to happen to:
- seniors over 85 years old,
- children under 3 years old, and
- young adults in their 20s.4
While these age groups are overly represented in the statistics, 67.2% of emergency room visits for a stairway accident injury were by people between 11 and 60 years old.5
What can cause a stairway accident?
Many stairway accidents are caused when the victim slips or trips. However, many of these slip-and-fall accidents are not the victim’s fault.
Some common causes of these stair falls are:
- loose or broken handrails,
- a lack of a handrail,
- broken stair treads,
- rotting wood in the stair’s support,
- slippery stair nosing,
- loose or torn carpet,
- strange step heights or lengths,
- uneven steps,
- something slippery on the steps, or
- objects in the stairway.
When the condition that caused the fall injury was a violation of local building codes, the property owner may be held negligent per se. The law will presume that he or she was negligent and responsible for the fall because of the violation.
In California, victims can show that a property owner was negligent per se by proving that:
- the defendant violated a local or state statute, regulation, or ordinance,
- that violation caused the victim’s injury or death,
- the death or injury was caused by an act that the statute, regulation, or ordinance was designed to prevent, and
- the victim was a member of a group that the statute, regulation, or ordinance was designed to protect.6
Even if the property owner was not negligent per se, that does not mean that he or she was not negligent. The law of premises liability requires property owners, occupiers, or managers to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition.
If one of these parties is negligent in this legal duty by not providing adequate stair safety, they can be held liable for any resulting accidents or injuries.
In some cases, the stairs themselves were defective. If the property owner or victim installed defective stairs or stairway parts, such as a railing, the
- distributor, or
- seller may be liable.
That liability can come from their role in providing a product that was free of any:
Even if the fall victim was partially to blame for the accident, he or she can often still recover some of the compensation that they deserve. Each state has its own shared fault rules for these situations.
California, for example, uses pure comparative fault rules. Most states allow victims to recover compensation, so long as they were not primarily responsible for their injuries. The amount of their compensation, however, is reduced by their percentage of responsibility.
A personal injury attorney from a reputable law firm can help victims file a stairway accident lawsuit.
What compensation is available to victims?
Victims who have been hurt in a stairway fall are entitled to compensation from the party who was responsible for the accident. That compensation aims to make the victim whole by covering all of his or her losses that stem from the accident. Those losses include:
- medical bills,
- costs of future medical treatment, like physical therapy,
- distress from any disfigurements,
- lost wages and other income,
- reduced earning capacity, if the injury will keep the victim from earning income, in the future,
- pain and suffering,
- emotional distress, and
- loss of consortium.
When the accident was a fatal one, the victim’s family is entitled to compensation. They can pursue that compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. For help with your claim, contact the stairway accident attorneys at Shouse Law Group.
- Danielle Herbert Blazewick, Thitphalak Chounthirath, Nichole L. Hodges, Christy L. Collins, Gary A. Smith, “Stair-related injuries treated in United States emergency departments,” The American Journal of Emergency Medicine. April 2018, 36(4):608-614.
- California Evidence Code 669.