An important safety feature in any stairwell or slippery surface, such as in a shower or near a toilet, is a handrail. Handrails offer support and something to grip firmly to prevent people from losing footing or falling. Faulty handrails provide a false sense of security. People rely on them grabbing and leaning in for support, only to discover too late that it’s not safe.
Fort Lauderdale injury attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm know that handrail accidents can lead to severe and debilitating injuries, including:
- Broken bones
- Neck injuries/ spinal cord injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Facial fractures
- Lacerations/ bruising
- Traumatic brain injury
In some cases, it may even result in death.
Most of these instances are preventable. In a fair number of cases, it’s the failure of the landlord or property owner to make sure the devices are properly installed and maintained. Our injury attorneys in Broward County are committed to helping victims of handrail accidents obtain just compensation for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.
These type of claims stem from the legal doctrine of premises liability, which holds that those who own and control property owe a duty of care to those who are legally invited to enter and remain there. Particularly for property owners who invite the public onto the site for commercial purposes, there is a responsibility to regularly inspect the site for potential hazards.
Some potential sites for faulty handrail injuries include:
- Hotel bathrooms
- Public bathrooms
- Gym locker rooms
- Balconies/ decks
- Apartment complex stairwells
- Theme parks
In each case, failure to check the condition of handrails or repair those that need maintenance is a form of negligence. If a patron is hurt as a result, he or she may have a valid claim for damages.
There may also be instances where faulty handrails in a private home lead to injury, and those cases too can warrant an injury claim against the homeowners’ insurance policy. It should be noted, though, that the standard of care owed by a private resident to a social guest is less than what is owed by a commercial property owner to the public.
If you live in an apartment complex and the landlord installed faulty handrails either on the stairs or in the shower or bath area and you suffer a serious fall, your landlord could be held liable for those injuries.Florida Handrail Standards
Florida Building Code Residential Stairway & Handrail Requirements are that handrails must:
- Be able to withstand a load of at least 200 pounds applied in any direction;
- Be continuous the full length of the stairs, from the top of the riser to the bottom;
- Only be permitted to be interrupted by a newel post at a landing;
- Have a height, from stair tread nosing, that is uniform and not less than 34 inches and not more than 38 inches;
- Have a clear space between the handrail and a wall or other surface of at least 1.5 inches.
Perhaps one of the most noteworthy Florida handrail injury cases was out of Fort Pierce, just north of Palm Beach County in Southeast Florida.
The Sun-Sentinel reported the 32-year-old plaintiff was injured in a fall outside her apartment, and was ultimately awarded $1 million in a judgement against her landlord, who failed to fix faulty handrails on the premises.
The civil injury lawsuit asserted that when the plaintiff moved into her apartment back in 2007, she immediately complained about the loose handrail. The landlord assured her it would be promptly fixed. Plaintiff was also able to point to documents showing several other complaints had been made about the railings throughout the complex by other residents. The landlord had hired a property manager who was reportedly supposed to be dealing with these problems, but no repairs were ever made.
Evidence of these complaints was important because it showed the landlord and the property management firm had actual knowledge of the issue, and yet failed to fix it. In cases where there is no proof of actual knowledge, plaintiffs can still build a case showing constructive knowledge, which means defendants should have known about the issue either because it existed for a certain length of time or because it occurred with such regularity that defendant should have anticipated it.
In this case, complainant was able to show that after these complaints were lodged and no action was taken by the landlord or property manager, she slipped on her landing, grabbing the handrail for support. Unfortunately, the faulty handrail gave way, and she slipped down four steps, causing serious injuries to her neck and lower back. Since then, she was forced to undergo at least three surgeries and her medical expenses by then had already topped $200,000.
Jurors decided the case in her favor, awarding her damages for past and future medical bills and lost wages. It’s an example of how these cases can be successful. The case was Nickerson v. Lenders Plus, Inc.
If you have been injured relying on a faulty handrail, our experienced injury lawyers will evaluate your case to determine the best course of legal action.
Call the injury attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm at (877) 277-3780 or locally in Broward at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties.