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Stairway Accidents

Premises Liability

There are many different types of accidents that can occur on premises such as stairways. Falling on a stairwell can result in severe damage or even death to the individuals involved. The state of California has several regulations to ensure the safety of its citizens while using public stairs. An experienced personal injury lawyer in Sacramento has the knowledge to the legal requirements of stairways but the following is a partial list of the regulations stairs must meet in California:

  1. Stairs serving an occupant load of more than 50 must have a width of at least 44 inches: Stairs serving an occupant load of less than 50 must have a width of at least 36 inches b. Private stairways serving an occupant load of fewer than 10 must have a width of at least 30 inches
  2. Trim and handrails must not reduce the width more than 3 ½ inches less than the minimums listed above: The sides of the staircase may not reduce the width of more than 1 ½ inches less than the minimums outlined.
  3. Each step in a stairway must be between 4 and 7 ½ inches tall: The height of the tallest step must not exceed the height of the shortest step by more than ⅜ inch.
  4. Each step must have a depth of at least 10 inches: The depth of the deepest step must not exceed the depth of the smallest step by more than ⅜ inch.
  5. Private stairs serving less than 10 individuals and stairs leading to unoccupied rooftops may have stairs with a maximum height of 8 inches and a minimum depth of 9 inches.
  6. All stairs must be slip resistant.
  7. All stairs must be clear of all obstacles and be in good repair.
  8. Circular stairways must have a minimum stair depth of 10 inches: The central radius must not be less than twice the width of the stairway
  9. Landings
    • Length must be at least equal to the width of the stairs and must not exceed 4 feet when the direction of the staircase does not change.
    • When landings are used to turn the direction of the staircase, the width must not be reduced to less than half the required width.
    • Doors that open into a landing may not reduce the width in any direction by more than 7 inches less than the minimum as outlined in section 1.
    • There must not be more than 12 vertical feet between landings.
  10. Every building with 4 or more stories must have an exit to the roof from one set of stairs: This is not required for buildings with a roof slanting greater than 4 in 12 units (e.g. raises more than 4 feet every 12 feet)
  11. Stairways must have at least 6 feet 6 inches of headroom from the step to the ceiling: If there is not 6’6” of room above the stairs, the stairs must be relocated or the obstruction must be removed. If neither of these can be accomplished, there must be an adequate warning of the obstruction posted. Padding must be provided when appropriate.
  12. Some exit stairways are meant for emergencies and must be protected from the rest of the structure
    • The stairway must be constructed of at least two-hour fire-resistant materials in buildings with 4 or more stories
    • The stairway must be constructed of at least one-hour fire resistant materials in buildings with fewer than 4 stories c. Doors must have some method of self-closure
  13. 13. Stairways must have handrails on either side. Stairs with a width of more than 88 inches must have intermediate handrails for every 88 inches in width that are placed approximately midway.
    • Stairways with a width of less than 44 inches may have only one side rail. Any side that is open must have a railing.
    • Stairways with less than 4 stairs do not need to have handrails.

There are many other regulations regarding the specific construction of stairs and handrails that may be viewed at state websites. It’s always best to speak with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in Sacramento if you or someone you know has been injured due to stairways.

Do You Have a Case?

Accidents occur on the stairs all the time – how do you know you have a case against the owner of the property? Property owners have a liability for staircase accidents that are very similar to normal slip-and-fall cases. To prove fault, the following must be established:

  1. The owner or an employee of the owner caused the dangerous stairway condition. Liquid on the stairs, worn tread causing a slippery surface, a tear in the stair covering that may cause someone to trip, etc.
  2. The owner or employee of the owner was aware or should reasonably have been aware of the dangerous condition within responsible maintenance and observation of the stairs.
  3. The owner neglected to remedy the dangerous condition of the stairs.
  4. The injury incurred by the plaintiff was a direct result of the dangerous condition.

The court will take into consideration whether the plaintiff was acting recklessly or had a reasonable purpose for being on the stairs. It is important to take careful observation of the stairs when you experience an accident. Worn carpet or wood may not look especially dangerous, making it all the more so as individuals won’t think to take special care.

Have You Experienced a Fall on a Stairway?

The injuries that can be sustained from these falls are limitless. It’s important to contact a legal representative who is knowledgeable and dedicated to your case so you get the compensation you need and deserve.

If owners are acting carelessly or negligently and result in your injury, you must speak with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in Sacramento who can evaluate your case and fight for the compensation you deserve. Give us a call now for a free consultation at (916) 357-6767.

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