A recent Cook County personal injury settlement highlights the importance of following building codes. The Illinois personal injury claim involves a 34 year-old male who injured his ankle after falling on stairs. The alleged cause of the worker’s fall was a non-uniform stair riser.
The stair that the man fell on allegedly measured about two inches higher than all the other stair risers in the relevant stairway. According to the ADA Accessibility Guidelines, the rise of all stairs must be uniform:
4.9.2 Treads and Risers. On any given flight of stairs, all steps shall have uniform riser heights and uniform tread widths. Stair treads shall be no less than 11 in (280 mm) wide, measured from riser to riser (see Fig. 18(a)). Open risers are not permitted.
Some cities or townships may have even more detailed requirements regarding stair rise. For example, the Chicago Municipal Code requires that risers not vary in height more than 3/8 inches. Given that the current Illinois personal injury lawsuit involved a variance of almost two inches would qualify as a building code violation under the Chicago Municipal Code.
The commercial office building where the Illinois worker fell was a newly opened building, and as such should have been up to current Illinois building code requirements. And unlike an Illinois slip and fall case against a personal property owner, this workers’ compensation claim was against the building’s owner, the general contractor, and some of the building’s sub-contractors. Any and all parties responsible for the stair’s construction and design were liable for the Illinois worker’s fall.
As a result of falling on the stairs, the Illinois worker ruptured a ligament in his ankle. The severity of the ankle injury was seen in that it required surgery in order to be repaired. However, the worker continues to have complications as a result of his ankle injury and developed complex regional pain syndrome as a result of the fall.
Again, all of the Illinois worker’s suffering could have been avoided had the stair’s rise been equal to those around it. Illinois law requires that construction companies and building owners follow Illinois Building Codes in order to avoid injuries such as this one. However, the building codes will not help prevent injuries if they are not followed.
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