High-level falls can occur from any multi-story building, but when a building has old or broken railings on balconies or stairwells, the risk is particularly high. And high-level falls commonly result in serious injuries, including traumatic brain and spinal injuries.
Railings are generally anchored to a building to keep them in place, but railing systems can loosen over time, increasing the risk of failure. Without proper maintenance and regular inspections, old railings – which provide a false sense of security – can be deadly. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.
In some cases, railings are obviously old and worn, but even a railing that appears intact may be faulty or defective. And railings don’t need to be loose to fail; when a person falls through or over a railing because of poor design, they can be just as seriously injured. A little boy fell through a space in the railings of a Virginia hotel balcony in 2013, suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI). He was awarded $10.9 million in damages.
Generally speaking, it is the responsibility of a property owner to ensure that railings are safe if their properties are open to the public. This is also true of homeowners who invite guests onto their property. If Sara decides to have a party on her deck despite the loose, dilapidated railings, for example, she is likely to be liable if someone is injured when the railing fails. If, however, Sara just had a brand new railing installed, and someone is injured because of a design defect, the responsible party may be the designer, manufacturer or retailer.
Is the Railing Up to Code?
Landlords and business owners have an even greater responsibility to ensure that their railings are safe.They have a duty to maintain their property in a safe condition, which includes ensuring that deck, balcony, porch and stairwell railings are properly installed and compliant with local building codes. For example, railings must be a certain height to prevent adults from tripping and children from climbing over, and spaces between slats must be a certain height and width to prevent a child from trapping his or her head between them.
According to the CDC, nearly two million people are seriously injured or die from traumatic brain injuries annually, and many of these are due to falls. In fact, falls are the leading cause of TBIs, accounting for more than 35 percent of the injuries. And many fall injuries are the result of faulty railings or missing handrails in stairwells.
Sadly, the problem doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. There are an estimated 50 million wooden decks and balconies in the U.S. alone, and the majority are more than 25 years old. A MA personal injury attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence. Continue reading