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landlord liable for falling down stairs

Those who live in apartment buildings, duplexes, or anywhere else with communal stairs rely on their landlords to keep those stairs clear and safe for regular traversal. If a resident trips or slips and falls down the stairs and sustains an injury, they may have grounds for a lawsuit against their landlord.

When Are Landlords Held Accountable for Falling Down Stairs?

As the owners and oftentimes managers of shared residential or commercial buildings (including apartments, malls, restaurants, and more), landlords are liable for any preventable injuries that occur on their properties.

If a resident or business patron falls down the stairs of a commercial building or residential building, landlords may be accountable for those injuries under many circumstances.

Building Code Violations

All buildings in New York must be constructed while adhering to certain building codes. Building codes affect many aspects of a structure, including its height, safety features, and the design and functionality of its stairs.

If a landlord owns a building with stairs that do not adhere to New York building codes, they may be liable for a lawsuit if they fail to modify or replace those stairs in a timely manner. For example, if someone trips and falls because a building’s stairs are too narrow or the steps are too high apart, the landlord may be liable.

Failure to Warn Occupants of Hazards

Hazards may crop up from time to time, but landlords have a responsibility to warn their occupants of said hazards. For instance, if a major leak has caused a hazard on shared apartment stairs, and a landlord does not warn occupants accordingly, they may be liable for a lawsuit.

Failure to Remove Hazards 

Similarly, landlords are responsible for removing hazards on shared stairs in buildings they own. If a landlord does not clean up spills, remove broken glass or oil, or get rid of ice in front of an apartment building, they may be liable for a lawsuit.

Failure to Repair Broken/Dangerous Stairs

If a set of stairs is dangerous to traverse because it is broken (such as one stair having a massive hole in the middle of it), landlords or their building managers have a responsibility to repair those stairs. Should they fail to do so, they could be sued by any residents who are injured due to the hazard(s).

Failure to Protect Building Occupants from Outside Hazards

Lastly, landlords may be liable for lawsuits if they don’t protect building occupants from outside hazards. Outside hazards can include:

  • Ice patches in front of a commercial or residential building
  • Snow or ice that makes its way into the building
  • Pests or vermin that affect stair quality (such as termites)
  • And more

What Kind of Lawsuit Should Victims File?

Suing Landlords for 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.

A fall down the stairs can lead to minor to severe injuries, including bruising, lacerations, broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and more. Many stair accident victims may need compensation to pay for their medical bills and account for other damages.

Depending on the circumstances of the accident, victims can file one of two lawsuits in most cases.

Premises Liability

Premises liability lawsuits hold landlords or building managers accountable for failing in their duties to occupants/users of their owned or overseen buildings.

For example, a landlord agrees to keep an apartment building and all of its communal areas and resources safe for occupants. They sign documents to this effect each time they take on a new tenant.

If they fail to keep the stairs or don’t remove hazards on the stairs and an occupant is injured as a result, they may be liable for a premises liability lawsuit.

Similarly, a restaurant owner has a responsibility to clear away ice in front of their commercial building or restaurant if they are open for business. If they fail to do this and a patron slips on the ice, they may be held liable.

Personal Injury

Personal injury lawsuits are more generalized but may also be appropriate depending on the circumstances. A personal injury lawsuit may be viable if:

  • A building occupant or guest was injured
  • The injury was directly caused due to the negligence of the landlord or loading manager

Settlements for Falling Downstairs on Premises Owned by a Landlord

Many stair accident victims require compensation to pay for medical bills, loss of income, loss of ability, or pain-and-suffering. They may receive settlements ranging from a few hundred dollars up to many thousands of dollars to pay for their medical expenses and other needs.

However, the amount of compensation they receive is highly dependent on the strength of their case and whether they have injury lawyers on their side.

How Injury Lawyers Can Help

Injury lawyers have the legal knowledge and expertise necessary to help stair accident victims acquire maximum compensation for their cases. The right lawyers can:

  • Help victims gather evidence
  • Gather the right medical evidence to prove the cause and extent of victims’ injuries
  • Provide legal expertise to accident victims
  • Negotiate an appropriate settlement for victims
  • And more

Injury lawyers maximize a victim’s chance of a successful lawsuit outcome no matter the type or details.

Contact Sobo & Sobo Today

Victims of falling down the stairs should contact Sobo & Sobo right away to start the legal process towards compensation for their injuries. As experienced New York injury attorneys, Sobo & Sobo can help with:

Contact them today for a free consultation and more information.