Liability For Falls Due To Improper Lighting Of Stairways

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Is A Store Or Office Liable For Falls On Improperly Lighted Stairways?

A store or office has a duty of ordinary care to keep steps and stairs in reasonably safe condition to prevent harm.  Failure to warn or take precaution from dangers has been held to be a breach of ordinary care.  A breach of this duty which causes injury may result in the store or office being liable for negligence.  Proof of a fall, without more, will not result in the store or office being held liable.

Generally, the store or office need not have notice of the improper lighting to be liable for injuries, as long as it is a permanent condition.  However, notice is required when the inadequacy of the lighting was a temporary condition, and when it is claimed that the stairway was dangerous, not only because it was improperly lighted, but also because of other defects.

For example, a store was held liable for injuries that occurred on an improperly lighted stairway which was used by a customer.  The customer was injured when she tripped down the stairs which had no lights and only dirty windows which did not allow sufficient light to come through.

Are There Any Limits To The Store's Liability?

The duty of ordinary care only applies to areas where customers are permitted to be.  Additionally, the duty applies only to customers and people accompanying them, prospective customers, and people on the property for other business purposes.  People on the property who are unconnected to the business may not be permitted to recover for their injuries.

For example, a woman who was injured on an unlighted stairway in the rear of a shoe store was able to recover for her injuries.  The woman was looking for a dressing room and told by a saleslady to go as far back as she could and make a left.  The woman went through a curtained doorway, into a dimly lit stockroom, and into a darkened area in which the open stairway was located.  The court permitted the woman to recover although she entered a restricted area because she followed the instructions of an employee and therefore had the right to assume the area was reasonably safe.

Should I Consult An Attorney About Store Or Office Liability From Falls On Improperly Lighted Stairways?

If you have been injured on an improperly lighted stairway in a store or office building, you should contact an attorney immediately.  Proving your case can be difficult and the store may have defenses to liability, but a personal injury attorney can help explain the law and your rights so that you can recover damages for your injuries.

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Last Modified: 01-18-2013 03:56 PM PST

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