Every day, you probably go up and down several flights of stairs without even thinking about it. However, if you ever fall down a flight of stairs, you can suffer serious injuries that will change how you live your life. In certain situations, you may be able to sue the owner of the premises for your injuries, but you’ll need to meet with an experienced St. Petersburg, Florida personal injury lawyer first.
Thousands of people are injured each year when they fall, but falls down stairs can be particularly serious. Not only do you fall a long distance, but you’ll contact each step on your way down to the ground. Each impact can cause a new injury, so by the time you land on the ground you might suffer any of the following:
- Sprains. Ligaments that connect bones to other bones can become stretched or torn, causing pain and making it difficult to move.
- Broken bones. People who fall can break their legs, arms, collar bone, or other bones. Particularly bad breaks might require surgery.
- Brain injuries. Brain injuries can range from a mild concussion to more serious injuries that can disrupt your ability to speak, walk, or use your arms.
- Spinal injuries. Your spinal cord is protected by over 40 vertebrae. A hard fall can crack your vertebrae or cause the disks between each vertebra to rupture. If your spinal cords is damaged, then you might end up paralyzed.
- Back injuries. These can include compressed nerves, sprains, and strains in addition to spinal injuries.
Treatment for Your Injuries
Immediate medical treatment is critical for a speedy recovery. Also, should you sue the owner of the premises, then you’ll want to show that your own behavior didn’t aggravate your injuries. For example, if you fell and then went out surfing later, a jury might think that the fall didn’t really cause serious injuries. As soon as possible, get yourself to a hospital or doctor to have yourself checked out.
Your treatment will depend on the type of injury you suffer:
- Sprains will probably require icing, bed rest, and over-the-counter medicines for pain relief.
- Broken bones will need to be put in a cast. Depending on the break, you may need to stay in bed. Some breaks, if sufficiently serious, you might need a screw inserted to keep the pieces together.
- Treatment for brain injuries will depend on the severity of the injury. A mild concussion can clear up with bed rest and pain medication after 7-10 days. More serious traumas might require physical therapy or even surgery.
- Spinal cord injuries might require surgery. You might also need to wear a brace in order to stabilize your spine.
- Back injuries will probably require bed rest and pain management.
Whatever treatment your doctor prescribes, remember to follow it to the letter. If you don’t, then you’ll not only prolong your recovery but you will make it more difficult to receive financial compensation for your injuries.
It’s possible to fall because you weren’t paying attention, or because you were trying to go up or down the stairs too quickly. In these situations, it’s unlikely that the building owner is responsible for your injuries. Instead, you’ll need to bear the financial costs of your fall, which means you’ll need to pay your medical bills out of your own pocket and suffer any lost wages.
However, in some situations the owner of the premises can be held legally responsible for injuries caused by the fall. Generally, legal liability is most likely when there is something wrong with the stairs that the owner refused to fix or warn you about. Consider the following examples:
- The steps are loose and slide around or break under foot.
- The banister is loose and doesn’t provide support when you reach for it.
- The tread is worn out on the stairs so that they become slippery.
- There is inadequate lighting to allow you to climb or descend the stairs safely.
- The stairs are designed in an unreasonable manner—e.g., they may be too steep to be safe.
Whether the steps are hazardous requires a fact-specific analysis that only an experienced personal injury lawyer can provide. The sooner you contact a lawyer the better. You don’t want the premises owner to quickly patch up the stairs to hide the hazard.
Is the Premises Owner Legally Responsible?
Premises owners owe visitors different duties depending on your status whether you are a business customer, a guest in someone’s home, or a trespasser. The law imposes different duties, depending on why you are on the property.
If you’re a business invitee, then the owner has a duty to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition. Generally, this means they need to inspect their stairs for defects and then correct them quickly. If the owner can’t immediately correct a defect, they should at least warn their customers of the problem by putting up a sign. However, you probably can’t receive compensation if the problem was “open and obvious,” such as a missing step or the entire staircase was falling down.
Homeowners also must protect the safety of guests they invite into their home by keeping the property reasonably safe, just as a business would have to treat their invitees. However, if someone invites themselves onto your property—for example, to sell you something—then a landowner does not owe them a duty to keep the property reasonably safe.
Trespassers have the same amount of protection as uninvited guests—almost none. According to Florida law, a landowner has no responsibility to keep stairs safe for an undiscovered trespasser. However, they can’t intentionally harm a trespasser by, for example, setting traps.
Call a Personal Injury Attorney in St. Petersburg, Florida Today
If you or a loved one was injured falling down a flight of stairs, you might be able to receive financial compensation for your injuries. At Dolman Law Group, we help injured victims receive compensation to pay for medical and rehabilitation expenses, as well as replace lost wages. Contact us today by calling 727-222-6922 or by filling out an online contact form. Consultations are free.
Dolman Law Group
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712