In an attempt to keep you well informed, we are forwarding to you a “snap shot” of litigation matters we have provided as an “Expert Witness” related to “Slip and Falls” matters.
Recently we have consulted for a case involving an elderly gentleman ascending an exterior flight of stairs to enter a public building entrance. Apparently, according to the claim, the “stair risers” were inconsistent causing him to stumble and fall backwards injuring himself. Of course, the issue became more intense, due to the fact these stairs had been recently reconstructed and claims were focused on the new replacement stair design and its non-compliance with the International Building Code for max riser height and tread depth dimensions. This was the focus of the Legal Counsels for the involved parties when the Defense Legal Counsel contacted our firm for our firm’s review and analysis.
It so happened, that we had been involved in the past with two separate, but very similar, pieces of litigation matters of a man and a women who were also ascending an exterior stair and fell injuring themselves. Again all focus was on the stair design, handrails and stair physical condition. During this particular research and investigation period I happened to have lunch with a close friend, a cardiologist, who I related this matter. He immediately stated that many elderly people have heart conditions which cause them to “black out” and collapse after ascending long flights of stair risers (Specific Medical term “Syncope due to Exercise included Hypo Tension Secondary to Drugs, i.e., Beta Blockers”). He related his own experience when he was stationed in Washington, DC, assigned to a Medical Group that responded to all accidents on the US Government buildings and grounds. He further noted that while stationed in DC, he witnessed many accidents involving elderly people collapsing while ascending monument stairs that were a probable result of heart conditions.
This information strongly supported our physical findings of this site. It consisted of two flights of stairs that the Plaintiff was ascending that were 99% in compliance with IBC Code requirements. What was not consistent to a “Slip & Fall” scene was the position of the Plaintiff’s body lying on the intermediate sidewalk after he had fallen with his head positioned opposite of his travel direction. Further medical history investigation into his past health condition revealed a heart condition that was strongly related to him having a seizure, thus causing his fall backwards and his resulting injuries.
In conclusion, sometimes what appears to be a site condition causing a fall and injury could actually be related to other factors not so evident as a stair step or length of that stair run either with or without handrails for safety conditions for an individual when ascending or descending.
Let our firm and its experienced professionals in Building Design and Construction Elements assist your firm in determining the true status of a “slip and fall” related to your client as either a Plaintiff or Defendant. We also invite you to visit our website jamesetaylor.com and view our past case histories and our professional staff credentials. You may also contact us at 816-225-6666 with any questions you may have.