Woman Trips on Stairs Outside Shop

Joseph O'Neill

Written by
— Updated on May 11, 2016

Slip and Fall Expert WitnessThis case takes place in New York and involves a woman who was walking into a shop by way of a stoop with six concrete steps. The steps were very steep and made of concrete that had cracked and weathered due to age. As the woman was making his way up the stairs to the shop, she tripped on the final step, which was some centimeters higher than the proceeding steps. There were some warnings to patrons to be careful on the steps, however the stairs had no handrails and the warnings did not specifically warn about the variance in height between the last step and the preceding steps. Ultimately, the fall caused the woman several permanent injuries that have greatly impacted her quality of life.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Please discuss your background in setting safety safety standards for stairways such as the one described in the case summary.
  • 2. What could have been done in this situation to prevent such an accident from occurring?
  • 3. Have you ever served as an expert witness on a case similar to the one described above? If so, please explain.

Expert Witness Response E-001096

I have extensive experience in stairway and single step accidents, having served as an expert witness in such cases many, many times. I am a Certified Walkway Auditor Safety Specialist (National Floor Safety Institute), I am a licensed commercial construction supervisor and I have performed hundreds of commercial building inspections, including safety-related inspections. It is difficult to say what could have been done in this particular case because I do not have enough details with respect to the direction the door opened in (typically outward), how old the establishment is and if codes are therefore “grandfathered” etc. Codes require the exterior and interior floor surfaces to be flush (level) with each other, it does not sound like this was the case at this particular shop restaurant. The construction of a small landing on the other side of the door in order to make the inside and outside surfaces level with each other could have been performed for relatively low cost, provided this was a possibility of course. On the information that has been presented to me  I feel that there is a definite possibility of negligence here.

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