Home to approximately 2.7 million people, Chicago is a city full of life, culture, and picturesque skylines. But there is a personal injury threat hiding inside the city's skyscrapers, complexes, and tall buildings. It is one that many Chicagoans encounter on a daily basis, but rarely ever discuss or think about: stairs.
Whether it is a part of your daily routine or something that looms in the hidden halls, waiting for the day an elevator stops working, stairs are found in a large majority of Chicago's buildings. Governed by building codes and city codes, one would think that stairs are relatively safe; they have been around for centuries, after all. Nothing could be further from the truth, however.
Alarming Stair Statistics
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), accidental falls are the leading cause of non-fatal hospital-treated injuries in the United States. Falls are also one of the top ten causes of unintentional injury deaths for most age groups, and the leading cause of death for those over the age of 65. In actual numbers, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated that stairs had caused 1 million injuries in 1990, and the National Safety Council estimated that about 12,000 people had suffered a fatality because of a fall in 1989. Essentially, stairs cause more deaths each year than drownings, fires, or burns.
Despite the alarming statistics, stair risks are grossly neglected in safety discussions, and there are no national building codes. Instead, each state is responsible for developing their own, and they can vary greatly from one region to the next, potentially creating an even higher risk for travelers who are used to ascending and descending on a certain width or slope of stairs. All of this, along with just the basic risk of going up and down them means that stairs continue to cost the United States anywhere from $10 to $12 billion in lost wages, healthcare, and short term disability each year.
Safe Stair Practices
If you are using stairs in your own home, it goes without saying that you should keep them in good condition to help prevent trips and falls. Watch for loose carpeting or boards, sticky surfaces, wobbly or broken handrails, poor lighting, and keep the stairs free of items. Blocking devices, such as baby gates, should also be used when there are small children in the home.
If, however, you are at work, in a complex, or simply visiting another building or structure, then it is important that you employ safe stair practices to hopefully prevent injury. Avoid going up or down stairs in a rush, always use handrails, and, if possible, avoid any stairwells that appear to be in disrepair. If it is a stairwell you use on a regular basis, call the city building inspector to have the matter addressed.
Injured on Stairs? Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you have been injured by stairs that were not your own, you may have a premises liability case, and you may be due compensation for your medical bills and time away from work. It is important, however, that you contact an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure your case is effectively managed and presented to the courts.
At Hurley, McKenna & Mertz, we fight aggressively for our clients to achieve the best possible recovery. And, with more than two decades of experience, we are well-versed in the tactics often used by the opposition to cut your compensation. Schedule your free consultation with one of our Chicago, Illinois personal injury attorneys by calling [[phone]] today.