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common injuries from falling down stairs

According to a 2015 American Housing Survey, nearly 49% of households have at least one set of stairs inside the home. But stairs can also be hazardous to traverse, especially for certain individuals with lowered mobility, such as the elderly.

Each year, millions of Americans suffer injuries due to falling down stairs. In many cases, these are simply accidents; in others, they may be due to the negligence of one or more parties. 

How Often Do People Fall Down the Stairs?

The American Journal of Emergency Medicine published a 2017 study which remains the most comprehensive examination of downstairs falling accidents, their victims, and their circumstances.

According to this study, falls down stairs cause an average of approximately 1 million injuries per year. In total, this adds up to the second leading cause of accidental injuries in the entire country.

Additionally, falling down the stairs causes an average of 12,000 deaths per year. Stairs may be dangerous for everyone, but especially for specific groups.

What Are the Most Common Injuries of Down Stairs Falls?

Common Injuries from Falling Down Stairs

Alicia told her landlord month after month to put a banister on her apartment staircase, fearing that her kids would fall and hurt themselves. The landlord dismissed her for four months, until Alicia herself fell down three flights of stairs, breaking her right leg and part of her hip.

With help from Sobo & Sobo, Alicia filed a premises liability settlement that held the landlord’s negligence accountable for her injuries. She still uses her settlement today to cover lost wages, medical costs, and to put food on the table for her kids. “He needed to be knocked down a peg or two for quite a while,” said Alicia. “It felt good to be the one to do that, with help from my amazing lawyer. Thank you for making me feel heard.”

This is a true story. We’ve changed the name and photograph of our client to protect her privacy.

The above-mentioned study breaks down the most common types of injuries sustained from a fall down the stairs. These injuries include:

  • Lower extremity injuries, such as organ damage or dislocations
  • Internal bleeding
  • Broken bones, oftentimes ankles or wrists (when an individual tries to break their fall)
  • Injuries to the back/spine or neck
  • TBIs or traumatic brain injuries, including concussions
  • Head and/or neck injuries, which comprised 21.6% of total injuries in the study
  • Deep lacerations or cuts
  • Spinal cord damage, including the possibility of paralysis
  • Fractures, which accounted for 19.3% of the injuries
  • Sprains and strains which, although mild in comparison, comprised the plurality or 32.3% of injuries in the above study

Common Causes of Falling Down Stairs

Most falls down the stairs are purely accidental. They may occur because someone loses their footing or they are distracted during a conversation. However, other common causes of falls down stairs include:

  • A loose or broken handrail
  • No handrails present on the stairs at all
  • Broken stairs or stair treads
  • Torn, loose, or otherwise adjusted carpet
  • Uneven steps
  • Steps positioned at uneven heights
  • Objects in the stairway
  • Slippery objects or materials on the stairs

In some cases, falls down stairs might not be purely coincidental accidents. For example, construction companies that redo the stairs of a shared apartment building could place the stairs unevenly or leave nails or other hazards on the stairs when they leave. When a person tries to use the stairs, they encounter those hazards and fall as a result. 

Where Do Stair Fall Accidents Occur?

Falls down the stairs may occur in a variety of areas, including in the home. In many cases, falls down the stairs in one’s home are due to an object left on the stairs improperly after a home renovation or if a construction team leaves hazards in the way of stair users.

However, stair fall accidents may also occur in apartment buildings or other shared residences. In such cases, the upkeep and maintenance of stairs may fall on the shoulders of property owners or management companies.

Stair falls could also occur outdoors or in shared public spaces, such as parks, on public walkways or streets, in subway stations, and more. Stair falls in these areas could occur due to hazards in the way of stair users, negligent or reckless movement from another stair user, or lack of maintenance from city authorities.

Who is Most At-Risk of Falling Down Stairs?

According to the 2017 study by the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, the most at-risk groups of falling down stairs include:

  • The elderly
  • Those with one or more mobility impairments (i.e. paraplegia, arthritis in the legs, etc.)
  • Younger children

The highest injury rates overall come from adults over the age of 85 and from children who are under the age of three. Individuals between the ages of 11 and 62 comprise the majority or 67% of individuals who fall down stairs.

These groups are most at-risk of making a movement mistake or being tripped by one or more hazards on or near a set of stairs.

Although these groups of the most at risk for falls down stairs, they are not the only people vulnerable. Individuals even in the peak of health may still be at risk of many of the above common injuries, including broken bones, TBIs, and other issues. The risk of serious injuries is magnified if the stairwell or staircase in question is high or if the stairs are made of a very hard material like concrete or steel.

How to Tell if a Fall Down Stairs is Serious?

For those who suffer a fall down the stairs, it may be difficult to determine if their injury is serious and warrants a hospital visit. Fall accident victims can determine whether an injury is serious by looking for the following signs:

  • Back pain that worsens or that continues over the course of several days or weeks
  • Regular headaches that come and go or linger over several days; these could be signs of a concussion
  • Heightened sensitivity to stimuli like light or loud noises
  • Blurry vision
  • Persistent muscle weakness
  • Swelling in the injured areas
  • Numbness in the extremities or in the groin or genital areas
  • Pain anywhere in the body that does not respond to painkillers

Contact a Falling Accident Injury Lawyer

Many accidents that cause a fall down the stairs are due to the negligence of another person or party. In circumstances like these, victims should contact Sobo & Sobo: New York’s most experienced falling accident injury lawyers.

With years of experience handling trip and fall and slip and fall accidents, Sobo & Sobo may be able to help with any down stairs fall case. Contact them today for a free consultation and more information.