Visitor Question

Defective Stair Rail Causes Injuries in Fall…

Submitted By: Steven (Seattle, WA)

Two weeks ago I fell and was injured in my condominium. I slipped on carpeted stairs and grabbed the stair rail. The rail broke off in brackets (cheap alloy) and I fell, cutting my elbow and my back. I went to the ER and got 15 stitches, I almost severed my triceps muscle in the fall.

I still have the broken and sharp brackets with me.

Is the builder responsible for building a stair rail strong enough to save me from a fall? Would it be considered a defective product in this circumstance? What should be my action? The builder built about another 40 condos the same way. Thanks.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Steven,

If you own the condo contact your local Building Code Enforcement Department. Ask them for a copy of the specifications related to the stair rails built into condominiums.

You may be opening a “can of worms” because the condo, during its construction, had to be inspected by the Building Code Department’s Enforcement Officer. If she saw the stair rail and knew it was defective and still agreed to give the condo a “CO,” or Certificate of Occupancy, that means the Code Enforcement Officer either missed the infraction, or allowed it to remain installed without any notice of defect.

When you look at the building code, if you find the stairway and rail were in “code” then you really won’t have much of a case against the condominium builder. You may though have a case against the manufacturer of the stair rail.

That would be called a Defective Product or “Product Liability” case. Your product liability case might not only inure to your benefit, but to others who have the same defective stair rail in their condominiums.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: February 14, 2012

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