Chicago is a city oozing with culture, overflowing with life, and influencing the rest of the country each and every day. Its population of approximately 2.7 million people makes it the third largest city in the nation behind only New York City and Los Angeles, but unlike Los Angeles, the footprint of Chicago is relatively small and therefore its citizens live and work more closely together. This has led to space issues that have been resolved in a universal manner: building upwards. Today, Chicago hosts a number of tall buildings, complexes, and even skyscrapers to utilize its limited space in the best manner possible.
Taller buildings make many things possible in Chicago. Not only do you get a picturesque, traditional skyline but you also get plenty of real estate options from which to choose, often at affordable prices. Whether you are looking for residential or commercial property, there is something to suit your needs. But these taller facilities do have some potential downfalls alongside all the benefits and one of them often is a safety threat posed by stairs.
If you live in or work in Chicago, stairs should be on your mind because odds are that you use them at some point. Even if you never use the stairs, you might have to if an elevator breaks down or in the case of an emergency. And further, even if you work in a building without stairs and you live in a one-story home, your daily transit might involve the use of stairs if you use the CTA L trains and if an escalator is not working. Therefore, stairs should be just about everyone’s concern.
Stair accidents can happen for many different reasons. One of the most common issues we see as personal injury lawyers are stairs that fail to conform to city or state codes. Building codes are set in place to ensure that all areas of a structure – including stairwells – are safe for the people who will be using that facility. But if a building is designed in a defective or negligent manner, unsuspecting individuals may be at risk for injuries. For example, stairs that have riser heights that are too high might pose an unreasonable risk for a tripping or tumbling accident. And stairs that are too narrow in width may cause a user to fall. Failing to include one or more handrails can be a violation of city codes depending on the width of the stairs and having too many stairs in a row without a landing may compound injuries should someone stumble.
To address these concerns, new buildings should be built with both safety and city codes in mind and existing structures should be retrofitted if necessary. Regular inspections should be conducted on all stairs and stairwells so that any deterioration can be noted and can be repaired before an accident takes place. And if stairs are in need of repair, those stairs should be closed off so that no one can use them until the repairs take place. Failing to maintain and/or repair stairs in Chicago can be an act of negligence that may trigger legal liability on the part of a building owner or a management company that maintains the premises.
If you were injured in an accident involving stairs or a stairwell in the Chicago area, you may have a valid claim for your injuries which can include any medical bills you have been forced to incur. However, you must act within a time period specified by law or your right to recover will be barred forever, preventing you from obtaining the compensation you deserve.
If you have questions about your rights or you are in need of help, call the personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. today toll free at (855) 529-2442 or locally at (312) 924-7575. One of our licensed lawyers is standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week to offer you a no-cost, no-obligation consultation about your options and we will keep everything discussed confidential.
Prior Blog Entry:
Falls at Illinois Job Sites are a Serious Risk to Workers’ Safety, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published October 9, 2015.