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Injuries From Stairway Falls


What is the number one accident that sends Americans to emergency rooms? The fact is, millions of people seek treatment for injuries sustained by falls on stairways every year. If you experience a stairway accident that is the result of someone else’s negligence, a local personal injury attorney may be able to assist you in recouping damages.

Tread and Riser Dimensions

When stairs and risers are not uniform, it can lead to missteps and injuries.

  • Building codes generally require variances not exceeding 3/8 inches in a particular stairway;
  • Risers should be between four and seven and one-quarter inches, with tread depths of at least 10 inches in public buildings;
  • Slip-resistant surfaces should be around stairs and on treads.
  • Intermediate landings should be present on any stairways that exceed 12 steps.


Treads and risers with poor lighting can lead to missteps and accidents.

  • 50 lux level lighting is the minimum suggested level of illumination;
  • Contrasting tread nosings can aid in visibility, particularly for individuals with poor vision;
  • Patterned carpeting should be avoided, as it may interfere with depth perception;
  • Treads with matte finishes tend to have less glare;
  • Proper lighting is a must: in dimly lit areas, such as in movie theaters, individual step lighting is essential.


Keeping one’s balance while travelling stairways is essential. Handrails play an important role for many individuals. When they are lacking, or are installed improperly, it can result in disaster.

  • Railings should be on both sides of the stairs if the stairwell equals or exceeds 44 inches;
  • They should be available continuously the length of the stairway, and continue for 18 inches before and after the stairs;
  • They should be installed at heights according to building codes;
  • Intermediate railings should be installed on stairways that are 88 inches or wider.


Poorly maintained stairways are dangerous. In fact, improper maintenance is the cause of more stairway accidents than any other single factor.

  • Treads must be kept in good shape: worn, loose or missing treads should be repaired immediately;
  • Carpeting, tiles or other coverings should be secure with no loose areas;
  • Stairs should always be clear of debris and objects.
  • Railings should be secure, clean and dry.


Signs should be present near outdoor stairways warning pedestrians of special hazards due to the weather. Additionally, stairs that are particularly steep, beyond a 38-degree rise, should have warnings. On the other hand, Stairway walls should be void of posters or other signs or distractions that may distract a pedestrian and lead to a misstep.

After a Serious Injury

If you have experienced a stairway fall that led to severe injuries, the experienced personal injury team at the Law Offices of Robert W. Elton can help. Our investigators will determine whether or not the stairs were in compliance with Florida law, and if they were not, we will go to bat for you in court. Contact us in Daytona and Ormond Beach for a free, confidential consultation today.