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Missing Handrail On Staircase Fall Injury Lawsuit Filed

Our Michigan premises liability lawyers recently filed a negligence lawsuit in the Washtenaw County Circuit Court in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  The lawsuit arises out of catastrophic injuries suffered by a 77 year old man in a commercial office building.  He is a psychologist and was renting an office on the second floor in the building.

While descending the interior staircase on April 5, 2016, he was struck in the back and shoulder by a large wooden art piece that was not securely fastened to the adjacent wall.  This caused him to lose his balance and footing and fall forward.  He reached for a handrail as an attempt to prevent his fall, but there was no handrail present on the stairway.  As a result, he fell down numerous steps and landed at the bottom of the staircase.  He suffered serious injuries in the fall.

Our slip and fall attorneys filed a lawsuit against the owner of the building alleging legal theories of both negligence and premises liability.  Under Michigan law, the landlord had the legal duty to properly maintain the building and keep it safe for invitees on the property.  The unsecured heavy wooden fixture was a major hazard and the absence of a handrail was a major factor in the fall.

The building is located in the City of Ann Arbor and the city building code requires that interior stairways have a graspable handrail to prevent fall injuries.  Photographs taken the day of the fall show that no handrail was present.  The owner apparently installed a handrail shortly after the incident.  However, this violation of the city code provides an inference of negligence against the owner.  The lawsuit Complaint includes the following legal allegations of negligence:

  1. Negligently maintaining a dangerous and defective condition on a portion of the premises where it knew or should have known invitees would traverse;

  2. Failing to take precautionary measures to correct or alleviate the unsafe condition and inadequate notice in the area of the fall;

  3. Failing to inspect said premises for dangerous conditions and failing to warn Plaintiff and others similarly situated of the unsafe condition including inadequate notice, after such time as Defendant knew or could reasonably have known of the unsafe condition;

  4. Failing to provide adequate notice in the area of the defective condition;

  5. Failing to warn Plaintiff and other invitees of the condition that caused Plaintiff's fall;

  6. Creating a dangerous condition by improperly maintaining the premises, including but not limited to failing to secure a heavy object hanging on the wall next to the stairs that could detach and cause injury to a person traversing the stairs or cause that person to lose balance and fall, and failing to maintain a graspable handrail for persons to stable and secure their persons while descending the stairs;

  7. Failing to erect warning sign(s) when the Defendant knew or should have known of the dangerous condition created;

  8. Violation of local ordinances and building codes;

  9. Performing other acts of negligence not yet known by Plaintiffs but which will be ascertained during the discovery of said litigation.

Our client suffered a serious brain injury from the fall.  He had a brain bleed that required surgery at the University of Michigan Hospital and a lengthy hospitalization.  That injury caused numerous other physical problems that caused severe weakness in his arms and legs and his ability to walk.  He was transferred to a rehabilitation facility for both physical and occupation therapy.  He also suffered cognitive deficits from the fall.

The lawsuit seeks compensation for his pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, and other non-economic damages.  He has been unable to return to work to his busy psychology practice and this has resulted in a substantial loss of income.  Additionally, he has incurred and will continue to incur significant medical expenses.  A loss of consortium claim was also made for his wife.  There has been no trial date set by the court.


Lawrence J. Buckfire
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