Dangerous Steps, Ramps & Changes in Elevation

Steps and ramps are part of most public structures and serve a valuable purpose of easing navigation and improving accessibility. This is especially the case with respect to wheelchair ramps. However, changes in elevation can be hazardous when they are not designed, built, and maintained properly. Please read on for more information about how stairs and inclines can pose hidden dangers for those entering onto commercial or personal property.

Situations Making Steps & Ramps Hazardous

Any change in elevation has the potential to be dangerous, as you may not notice the incline or decline, and trip or stumble as a result. But some steps and ramps are hazardous because of flaws in design, construction, or maintenance. Some of the most common errors and oversights causing steps, ramps, and other changes in elevation to be dangerous include:

  • Steps and ramps that are too steep – Steps and ramps that are too steep increase the likelihood of tripping and falling backwards. In fact, building codes mandate how steep newly constructed steps and ramps can be. For example, the minimum slope for a ramp is 1:12, which means a ramp rising 1 foot in height must be 12 feet long. Steps can also be problematic if they aren’t the correct width, which reduces the area on which a person’s foot can safely stand while climbing.
  • Steps and ramps lacking handrails – All staircases and ramps over 6 feet in length should have handrails to help users ascend and descend the change in elevation, and also to help users catch themselves if they trip or stumble and start to fall. It’s also important to have rails where there are drop-offs that could cause injury should a person go over the edge.
  • Ramps constructed from wood – An outdoor ramp constructed from wood is potentially dangerous for many reasons. For example, there is a risk of cave-in if the wood begins to rot, and because wood holds water, a wooden ramp can become very slippery after a rainfall. Wooden ramps also need to be treated and maintained with slip-resistant paint or another coating that adds traction.

Particularly in the case of wheelchair ramps, changes in elevation are designed into buildings, parking lots, and pedestrian pathways to improve access for visitors. When steps and ramps are constructed in such a way that they are inherently dangerous to users, the resulting hazard could be considered especially egregious, as the structures are intended to improve safety and usability, not pose unnecessary risk.

Contact Us for Help after an Injury Involving a Dangerous Ramp or Stairs

If you have sustained an injury due to unsafe steps or a dangerous ramp in the Atlanta area, please contact the legal team at Katz Wright Fleming Dodson & Mildenhall LLC at 404-460-0101 to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced premises liability attorney. We can help you obtain fair compensation for your injuries and damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

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