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October 29th, 2014 :

Guidelines, Government Regulations, Public Safety, Slip and Fall Injuries

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Tags: personal injury

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Guidelines, Government Regulations, Public Safety, Slip and Fall Injuries

The other day while driving back from court, I heard two political pundits arguing about government regulations and their merits.  Like many Texans, my initial reaction was to join the side of the gentleman arguing against the government regulations. However, the more I thought about the subject, I may have convinced myself that I appreciate some government regulations (please do not label me a “Big Government Communist” just yet). For instance, I like being able to walk into a public building and knowing with reasonable certainty that the building will not crumble and fall while I’m in it, that there are safe fire exits, and that if I touch a light switch I won’t be electrocuted.

Falls are the second leading cause of injury in the United States (second only to motor vehicle collisions).  While this may seem silly or funny (thinking of television shows America’s Funniest Home Videos or Ridiculousness), many people are seriously hurt by falls. One common place for falls are stairs. There are many reports about how the average person can tell if a stair varies even a meniscal amount in its rise (stair height) or run (stair depth) from the norm. In fact, governments the world over have various regulations regarding stair dimensions, opening, variance parameters, width, door access, rise, run, tread, nosing, balusters, hand rails, and newel posts. Other stair standards are published by various professional organizations, such as: ASTM International’s Standard Practice for Safe Walking Surfaces (ASTM 1637), U.S. National Bureau of Standard and U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Guidelines for Stair Safety, and the National Fire Protection Association’s Life Safety Code (NFPA 101). Each state and county have their own building codes on these issues; but, these codes and guidelines, if followed, generally prevent injuries (all arguments regarding bureaucracy aside).

Stair and other fall related injuries can be serious. So serious in fact that, one child every six minutes in this country is rushed to a hospital emergency room for stair related injuries (Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio). These injuries vary from scrapes, cuts, and bruises to fractured or broken bones to life threatening head injuries, even death.

For someone to be legally responsible for injuries sustained by a fall one of the following must be true: 1. The owner of the premises or an employee of the owner must have caused the dangerous condition, or 2. The owner of the premises or an employee of the owner must have known about the dangerous condition and did not fix the dangerous condition, or 3. The owner of the premises or an employee of the premises should have known about the dangerous condition because any reasonable person taking care of the property would have discovered and removed or repaired the dangerous condition. Another condition to proving legal responsibility for the injuries sustained, is a comparison of what is called “comparative negligence.” This is simply a legal test to determine whether the injured person’s carelessness caused the injury and if so is the injured person’s carelessness more or less than the owner or employee’s negligence.

Other things to consider:

Slippery Surfaces

  • Slightly worn sections on stairs can be more perilous than obviously worn stairs, because people less likely to notice the danger.
  • Stairs are made of tile or highly polished wood may be more slippery than other building materials potentially causing the property owner to be liable for sacrificing safety for looks and fashion.

Wet or Icy Outdoor Walkways/Stairs

  • Although, we all do and are required to use extra caution in these weather conditions; this does not mean the owner does not have a duty to maintain the walkway/stairs during these conditions. Outdoor walkway/stairs must be built and maintained to avoid an unreasonable or unexpected buildup of water or ice and should have surfaces that don't become extra-slippery when wet. If you slip on a walkway or stair with excessive buildup or without an anti-slip surface, the owner may be liable for your injuries.
  • Building Code Violations
  • If an owner of the premises or an employee
  • Missing, Defective, or Improperly Installed Handrails
  • Improper Stair Height or Depth
  • Uneven Stair Height or Depth
  • Missing, Defective or Improperly Installed Lighting
  • Missing Sign
  • And Many More, Dependent Upon the Circumstances and Where the Injury Occurred

At Chad Jones Law, we have attorneys who provide help with personal injury, criminal defense, estate planning, immigration and business planning services in the Bryan/College Station, Temple, Waco, Austin, and Houston areas. Chad Jones and Kevin Kornegay handle slip and fall injuries on a daily basis. If you have been injured, you need help from recognized personal injury lawyers in Texas!  Additionally, if you find yourself in need of other legal services from a good criminal defense attorney or trial lawyer, contact us at Chad Jones Law to find out what we can do to help you at 800-645-6637 or email us to discuss your case.

Written by: Attorney Kevin Kornegay

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