Any fall can be serious, and a fall down the stairs is no exception. The injuries can be severe and even end in death. But when this happens, who’s fault it is? In many cases, a fall is just a fall, it’s really no one’s fault.

However, a fall can also lead to severe injuries and create financial losses. Then the question of compensation comes up, which means fault has to be determined.

Premises Liability

In California, the owner of any property has a duty to keep that property reasonable free from dangerous hazards if open to the public or if any person is invited on the property. If you live in an apartment complex or any place with a common area that has stairs, the landlord is required to maintain the are and keep it safe.

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Creation of a Hazard

California law states that to prove that the owner of a property has created a hazard, the owner must have done one of two things:

  1. The owner created the hazard through negligent maintenance or other means, or
  2. The owner knew, or should have known of a hazard and did nothing (or did something inadequate) to fix the condition.

For stairs, it means that if the owner fixed a loose board or handrail but did it negligently and someone fell, then the owner is liable for injuries.  Also if the owner knew about a loose board or handrail and simply ignored it, and someone was injured, then the owner will be liable.

Defenses to Stairway Negligence Claims

The law also allows the landowner to show that he or she didn’t create the hazard, or once they knew of the hazard, the set out to fix it in a reasonable time. So if the owner had properly fixed the stairs and did so in a timely manner, but the victim fell anyway, then the owner can claim a defense.

Comparative Negligence

In California, fault in an injury claim can be divided between the victim and the owner. Let’s say the jury felt that the landlord was 70 percent responsible, and the victim 30 percent, then the owner will pay 70 percent of the victim’s damages.

Damages in a Stairway Fall Accident

When it comes to compensation for a fall accident, California law allows the victim to claim compensation for all injuries and financial losses caused by the accident. This will typically mean things like medical bills that have a direct identifiable cost, and for other things like pain and suffering which are not so easy to determine the value. Ultimately, it’s up to a mediator or jury to decide what costs are reasonable and at what amount the intangible things are valued.

Some of the more common damages allowed by California law are:

  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Time from Work
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Loss of Quality of Life
  • Vocational Retraining
  • Loss of Consortium and Companionship
  • Future Lost Wages
  • Temporary and Permanent Disability
Premises liability accidents

Contact a Los Angeles Premises Liability Attorney

The best thing to do when injured in a stairway accident is to talk to a Los Angeles Premises Liability Attorney who understands the law and has experience getting injured victims the compensation they deserve.

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