Step and stair injuries are the single largest contributor to fall-related hospitalizations in Canada. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation cites three main reasons for most falls. These include health factors, behavioural factors and environmental factors like poor lighting and design. Often a step or stair injury may result from a combination of factors.
If the fall can at least be partially traced to an environmental factor, then the injured person may have a potential claim for damages. A valid claim can be made where an environmental factor and another factor together contributed to an injury. It is a frequent and critical mistake for an injured person to decide on their own that their claim is not worth pursuing because they felt they were fully or partially responsible. Consultation with a personal injury lawyer is highly suggested in every instance where a fall has occurred.
Environmental factors may not always be easily apparent. Take for example, non-uniform steps – where one step is higher or lower than another. They are one of the most common contributors to stair falls, and can be the basis for a strong claim for compensation. Non-uniform steps may be entirely not noticeable to the average person. An expert’s opinion may be required to determine legal responsibility in such cases.
Stairs may be dangerous even in instances where they meet relevant codes and bylaws. Ontario courts, for their part, have expressed a willingness to go beyond the factors listed in relevant codes and by-laws in determining the safety of steps and stairways.
Stair injury claims may be made against homeowners, landlords, government or businesses, for their neglect of stairs under the Occupiers Liability Act. Or against the city for negligent inspection of the premises. Claims may even be made in product liability, against those who installed or manufactured a set of stairs. This includes those installed in one’s own home.
Claims for stairway injuries are complicated. The value of an initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer cannot be under-emphasized to help determine whether the injured person may have a potentially successful claim for compensation