Failure to Install Handrail at Apartment Building Leads to Injury

This case study explores a personal injury incident, where an individual slipped and fell due to alleged negligence by the property owner in maintaining safety codes for handrails and lighting.

ByZach Barreto


Published on February 27, 2024

Person walking up stairs

Case Overview

This case study focuses on an incident that transpired in a residential area upstate New York. An individual suffered injuries after slipping and falling on the steps of an apartment building.

The property owner had recently renovated the stairs but failed to install a handrail or improve lighting conditions. The plaintiff alleges negligence by the property owner for not adhering to relevant safety codes concerning handrails and sufficient lighting.

Questions to the Forensic Engineering expert and their responses


Can you describe your experience as a licensed engineer, specifically in assessing compliance with relevant codes related to fall protection and lighting?

As a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) in New York, I have extensive experience evaluating compliance with safety codes, particularly those related to fall protection and lighting. My training as a New York State Code Enforcement Official has equipped me with the necessary knowledge to accurately assess such situations.


What safety precautions could have been taken to avoid this type of incident?

There are several safety measures that could have prevented this unfortunate incident. The most critical precautions include installing handrails and ensuring adequate lighting. These elements are essential for maintaining safe navigation, particularly on staircases.


Have you ever reviewed a similar case? If yes, please elaborate.

Indeed, I have reviewed numerous trip-and-fall cases throughout my career. Many of these cases involved code violations concerning stairs, handrails, and inadequate lighting—similar circumstances to those present in this case.

About the expert

This expert is a seasoned forensic engineer with over three decades of experience and holds professional engineering licenses in more than ten states, including New York. Their academic background includes a BS in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering and an MS in Systems Engineering and Management. They have held various roles, including project manager for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and currently serve as a forensic engineer at two different firms, demonstrating their extensive expertise in safety compliance, code enforcement, and accident investigation.

Expert headshot


About the author

Zach Barreto

Zach Barreto

Zach Barreto is a distinguished professional in the legal industry, currently serving as the Senior Vice President of Research at the Expert Institute. With a deep understanding of a broad range of legal practice areas, Zach's expertise encompasses personal injury, medical malpractice, mass torts, defective products, and many other sectors. His skills are particularly evident in handling complex litigation matters, including high-profile cases like the Opioids litigation, NFL Concussion Litigation, California Wildfires, 3M earplugs, Elmiron, Transvaginal Mesh, NFL Concussion Litigation, Roundup, Camp Lejeune, Hernia Mesh, IVC filters, Paraquat, Paragard, Talcum Powder, Zantac, and many others.

Under his leadership, the Expert Institute’s research team has expanded impressively from a single member to a robust team of 100 professionals over the last decade. This growth reflects his ability to navigate the intricate and demanding landscape of legal research and expert recruitment effectively. Zach has been instrumental in working on nationally significant litigation matters, including cases involving pharmaceuticals, medical devices, toxic chemical exposure, and wrongful death, among others.

At the Expert Institute, Zach is responsible for managing all aspects of the research department and developing strategic institutional relationships. He plays a key role in equipping attorneys for success through expert consulting, case management, strategic research, and expert due diligence provided by the Institute’s cloud-based legal services platform, Expert iQ.

Educationally, Zach holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and European History from Vanderbilt University.

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