A “Little” Fall Downstairs Can Change Your Life
- Dan T. Matrafajlo
- Wed Jun 2019
- Slip And Fall,
Life comes with its share of ups and downs. And, when you fall downstairs, the phrase takes on even more of a literal meaning. In some cases, it becomes a near death experience. At the very least, cascading downstairs represents more than a minor inconvenience. And, it doesn’t matter if you fall indoors or outside.
Here’s an example you can likely relate to as something that happens with all too much frequency. While walking down the stairs of your apartment building to do your laundry, your foot encounters a loose step and you fall down several steps. Your things spill everywhere and your back hurts.
Fortunately, a neighbor hears the commotion and comes out to help you. You dust yourself off and go back to taking your things down to the laundry room. About a week later, the pain becomes intense beyond imagination. You decide to schedule an appointment with your doctor’s office.
The series of medical tests begin. In the back of your mind, you’re still angry about that loose step. Actually, you’re livid that you fell downstairs and continue to suffer such pain.
After the x-ray results come back, you learn you don’t have any broken bones in your back. However, you’re still in tremendous pain. Even physical therapy sessions prove futile in providing you relief. It may be that you are suffering from one of the more common injuries suffered by people who fall down.
Ultimately, an orthopedic doctor sends you for an MRI of your lumbar spine. It reveals herniated discs at two levels of your lower back. Obviously, this sounds like a pretty serious injury. So much so, that you can’t help but wonder. Can you sue your landlord for your injuries?
Making a Claim for Falling Downstairs
In our example, the conditions sound like they lend themselves to a potential cause of action. From all appearances, the landlord failed its duty to maintain the premises. Meanwhile, some staircase accidents occur because of improper construction. Furthermore, the absence of handrails proves problematic.
When you meet with an experienced personal injury attorney, you’ll need to provide some important information. First, it’s critical to determine if you fell on commercial property or private property. Make sure to let your lawyer know if the building is owner occupied.
In New Jersey, a fall on private property sometimes comes with a complicated set of circumstances. When considering the potential of filing a lawsuit, you could face legal restrictions that could prevent you from doing so.
Premises Liability and Staircase Accidents
Like other slip and fall, or trip and fall accidents, staircase accidents come under the broad category of premises liability law. Common sense tells you that a commercial property owner should have to maintain their property in a manner that provides for the safety of their tenants and others.
As you might guess, the New Jersey statutes contain laws that pertain to premises liability. Meanwhile, ordinances in cities like Elizabeth, Linden and Newark likely prove relevant to the safety of others.
Unfortunately, many property owners violate the law and allow their property to fall into disrepair. With that said, you should know that the courts traditionally hold commercial property owners liable for negligent acts or omissions that cause someone to suffer an accident and injury while on their property.
If multiple tenants are living in the property, the owner/landlord has a duty to make sure that the property is kept in a condition that is safe not only for the tenants, but also for their guests and the public in general.
All things considered, the common areas of a rental property most often represent public areas. Therefore, a commercial property owner assumes the responsibility for their maintenance and remains liable for any injury occurring because of a failure to maintain.
What does this mean? For starters, state and local laws require commercial property owners to make regular inspections of their property. When the authorities point out the need for maintenance or repair, owners are obligated to make those adjustments. Additionally, when something like a set of stairs need to be fixed, it becomes critical to warn others of any potential hazards.
The failure to make repairs or maintain premises exposes a property owner to liability. The same holds true when the owner knew or should have known that there was a dangerous condition.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Beninato & Matrafaljo, have helped many injury victims pursue claims against their landlords for injuries caused by negligently maintained property. The most important thing you can do for yourself after getting proper medical care is getting yourself an ally in your claims process. Contact us to see how we can assist you.