Unmarked Steps And Elevation Changes
Falls are sending more Canadians to the emergency department than ever before, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information. With over 650,000 fall victims seeking out emergency services, falls account for 32% of all emergency department trips. Stairs, steps, and ramps are a common source of fall injuries, as should be expected. While some staircase and change of elevation falls are simply chalked up to a lack of balance or distraction, thousands of others are caused by business owners and property owners who fail to clearly mark them out for patrons to see. If you are the victim of an unmarked step or elevation change, the Barrie personal injury lawyers at Preszler Injury Lawyers can help you win compensation to cover your damages, which include out-of-pocket medical expenses, lost wages and lost earning ability, pain and suffering, and more.
Unmarked Stairs Pose a Hazard to All Age Ranges in Ontario
Falls on stairs make up 12% of fall-related emergency department visits in Ontario, according to the Ontario Injury Compass. In fact, there were over 50,000 emergency department visits for stair falling injuries in Ontario in 2015 alone. While unmarked stairs create a serious falling risk for people of all ages, those on either end of the spectrum are affected the most—the very young and the elderly. Those aged 75 and older have the highest stair injury rates and emergency department visits, followed by the 65- to 74-year-old age range and the 0- to 9-year-old age group.
Body Injury Locations Caused By Stair Falls
A trip and fall to the same level can result in traumatic injuries. A fall on stairs, whether they are just a few steps or a full flight, increases the likelihood of a fall injury due to the obvious presence of added height. Most stair or step-caused falls end up causing injury to the head, ankle, feet, lower legs, or forearm. In fact, the following four body part regions make up 65% of injury locations caused by falling on stairs:
- Ankle or Foot—22%
- Knee or Lower Leg—14%
- Elbow or Forearm—7%
- Other injury locations make up the remaining 35% of injuries
What Business and Property Owners Should Do to Prevent Stairway Falling Accidents
In addition to marking elevation changes with signs, tape, and other warning devices such as bright paint, there are five other ways that business and property owners can make their stairs and steps safer. According to the Ontario Injury Compass, the following five elements should be taken to reduce stair falling risks:
- Designing stairs with a shorter riser and longer run
- Each step should be uniform throughout, including the shape, material, and dimension
- Handrails that continue at least one foot beyond the top and bottom of the stairs should be placed on both sides of the stairs
- A contrasting colour on the edge of all steps adds visibility. Additionally, good lighting should be implemented
- Old and damaged steps should be repaired promptly, as well as damaged handrails
In addition, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety recommends increasing visibility on the steps themselves by carrying out the following actions:
- Illuminating the stairway with a minimum 50 lux level
- Using angular lighting and colour contrast for improved depth perception
- Using matte finishes on treads to reduce glare
- Not using patterned carpeting, which can make it appear that there are different lengthed steps or step depth
Being Blamed for Your Own Fall Is a Common Tactic of Business and Property Owners
As a fall victim, you may not have a great memory or recollection of what happened leading up to your fall, and this is not even including your potential traumatic brain injury that clouds or erases memory. Most falls happen so quickly that in one moment the victim is simply walking along normally, and in the next he or she is in agonizing pain on the ground. The greatest desire for most fall victims is to quickly regain their feet and get away quickly, since falling is embarrassing. Being helped by a circle of strangers or carried away in a stretcher to a hospital is a more realistic outcome of a bad fall.
For good reason, many fall victims are either unaware of their rights and/or have no idea what caused them to fall in the first place. This opens up the way for business and property owners to assign blame if a personal injury claim is filed, or for their insurer to make a quick offer to the victim for a small cash settlement in return for a signed document absolving the property owner of liability. We urge you to talk to a lawyer before signing any such agreement or taking any type of offer. After a personal injury claim is filed is when the at-fault party and their insurance carrier will no doubt begin to make excuses, claiming that your footwear, bad eyesight, poor balance, the speed you were walking, or some other element caused you to fall.
Fighting Back Against the At-Fault Party’s Excuses
Some property owners go so far to cover up their liability that they place warning signs, paint, or tape at the fall site in hope that they got it up in time so that no one would notice. Other tactless acts are more common when it comes to denying compensation for injured victims, and the lawyers at Preszler Injury Lawyers have seen them all. If you were injured in a fall, our lawyers will help you get compensated fairly.
Reach Out to Our Barrie Unmarked Elevation Change Lawyers Today
As an injured fall victim, you probably have medical expenses to pay and bills that are piling up, or you soon will if you have been forced to take time off work. You should not bear this burden alone; the business owner or property owner that neglected their duty to your safety should be held responsible for your damages. Call Preszler Injury Lawyers at 1-800-JUSTICE today to schedule a free consultation with a Barrie personal injury lawyer.