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Some of the more common ways are people tripping and falling down them because of uneven risers, risers that are not clearly marked, or a handrail that comes off in their hands as they are walking, which causes them to trip and fall and hurt themselves. The building owners of these stairwells have a duty to make sure the stairwells are safe and up to building code.

Keep in mind that the law is clear in Texas that the owner of a building only has a duty to make the building safe from known dangers or defects. Alternatively, the owner of the building has a duty to make the building safe from reasonably foreseeable defects. The circumstances of your particular case obviously govern how the law will be applied. In many cases, it can be extremely helpful to have evidence or some kind of proof showing that the owners of the building in which the stairway was located had notice that the staircase was defective in some way or had some kind of problems.


The most common forms of stairwell accidents are:

  • Poor lighting in the stairwell
  • Broken handrails
  • Missing handrail
  • Missing steps
  • Broken steps
  • Steps that are not uniform
  • Steps that are slippery or worn down

It is important to understand that there are certain legal duties that will apply to you depending on who you are classified as, legally speaking, at the time of your injury. For instance, if you have no permission to be on the stairway when you were injured, then you have no claim against the apartment or building owner for your injuries unless they somehow went out of their way to injure you. Legally, this is known as a trespasser.

If you are on the property as a guest of the apartment or building, then you are owed a duty of what is known as reasonable care, meaning that the apartment or building owner must either have known or reasonably should have known of the dangers posed by the stairwell and taken corrective action.

If you are a guest but on the property for a business purpose, then this is known as a licensee, legally speaking. A licensee is owed the same duties as an invitee from a legal standpoint, which is to say that the owner of the apartment or building has a duty to make sure the stairwell was free from known dangers or reasonably should have known. Again, having proof of other, similar incidents involving injuries to people on the stairwell can help prove your case can be very helpful in proving your case.