Owner liability when a person is injured falling down stairs
New Jersey building owners are required to ensure that conditions are safe on their properties. If a person falls down some stairs, the property owner could be held liable.
When is a building owner liable?
A person falling down the stairs and suffering an injury does not automatically mean that a building owner is liable. Certain conditions that make the stairs dangerous would have to be present so that the victim has a legitimate claim to file a premises liability lawsuit. In other words, if a person trips because of an untied shoelace and falls down the stairs, that would not entitle them to hold the owner accountable.
What types of dangerous conditions can make the owner responsible?
Property owners who are aware of a dangerous condition on or near stairs in their buildings have a responsibility to fix it so that accidents leading to personal injury don’t occur. The following causes of falling down stairs can result in liability:
• Slippery surfaces from floor polish or heavily worn out carpeting
• Rain, snow, ice or liquid spills
• Inadequate, loose, broken or missing handrails
• Poor lighting conditions
• Stairs that do not meet building code requirements
• Missing, broken or uneven steps
• Hazards on the steps or at the top of the stairs
If a property owner is aware of any of these or other dangerous conditions on the stairs in their building, they are responsible for either making repairs, blocking off the area or putting up warnings so that people are aware of the dangers. If they fail to do that and someone falls and and is harmed, the owner can be held liable.
In some cases, a building manager might be liable for an accident involving falling down the stairs. If the owner is offsite, they might have a manager overseeing the property to ensure that it’s safe for renters, guests, licensees and invitees.