What Are The Most Common Injuries from Falling Down Stairs?

most common injury falling down stairs

A slip or missed step can happen so fast. One minute, you’re walking down the stairs; the next, you’re tumbling uncontrollably. You’ll be shocked at just how vulnerable your body is when falling down stairs.

From minor aches and pains to broken bones, stairfalls inflict all kinds of physical trauma — with some injuries being more common than others.
In this blog, we’ll outline the most common staircase injuries, what happens when you’re injured on someone else’s property, and why working with an experienced personal injury lawyer is critical after a slip and fall accident.

The Most Common Staircase-Related Injuries

Stair falls trigger a wide range of injuries, from minor to very serious. Looking at emergency room data collected over a 23-year period, the most prevalent stair-related injuries include sprains and strains, head and neck injuries, and broken bones.

Sprains & Strains

Making up 32% of total stair-related injuries, sprains and strains represented the most prevalent trauma. Sprains refer to torn or overstretched ligaments, often in ankles and knees, from tumbling down steps.

Strains include torn tendons or muscle fibers, again usually in the lower body. These injuries often require leg braces, crutches, physical rehabilitation exercises, and even corrective surgeries in some cases.

Lacerations & Contusions

Nearly 25% of injuries tied to stair falls present as superficial tissue trauma like heavy bruising or deep cuts needing stitches and wound management. Beyond pain and bleeding risk, blunt force contusions and jagged lacerations often lead to continued swelling, permanent scarring, and complications like infection.

Broken Bones & Fractures

Almost 20% of those examined sustained broken bones or fractures from high-velocity impacts and awkward landings trying to stabilize falls on stairs. Break locations and severity levels vary dramatically based on the angle of descent. Some minor hairline fractures may heal relatively smoothly, while compound breaks of legs and feet require urgent realignment and rigid casts or hardware installation.

Lower Body Injuries

The medical study emphasized that most stair fall-related injuries occur in lower body zones like legs, feet, knees, and hips. Beyond fractures, substantial cartilage and tendon damage, sprains, and dislocations plague these vital areas for mobility and stability. Knee operations, total hip replacements, and ankle reconstructions may emerge as needed.

Head & Neck Trauma

Additionally, the analysis spotlights that over 20% of injuries involve head and neck areas. Concussions and traumatic brain injury threats spike alongside facial lacerations, skull fractures, eye injury risks, and potential spinal cord injuries for those unable to protect against collapse. Children under 10 are especially susceptible to these types of injuries.

Why Do Staircase Accidents Happen?

Staircases may seem harmless, but they are a leading cause of accidental injury behind only motor vehicle accidents, according to statistics from the National Safety Council. With millions of Americans receiving emergency room treatment for stairwell injuries every year, it is apparent staircase hazards demand more attention.

There are a variety of reasons staircases can become dangerously unsafe in Illinois:

Poor Lighting

Insufficient lighting on staircases or nearby landings dramatically increases the chances of misjudging depths or contours and suffering a serious fall.
Common lighting-related issues include:

  • Lack of Windows or Natural Light – Windowless stairwells, basements, attics, and storage spaces often rely solely on artificial lighting, which can fail unexpectedly.
  • Burnt Out Light Bulbs – If light bulbs burn out on staircases or landings, obscured visibility leads many to trip or lose balance, especially when rushing.
  • Dark Shadows – Shadows cast from poor lighting make accurately judging stairs difficult, covering uneven edges, lips, or faulty construction.

Slippery Surfaces

Slick staircase surfaces cause countless catastrophic falls in Illinois each winter.

Hazardous situations include:

  • Wet Floors from Spills or Weather – Liquid spills and high foot traffic turn staircases into slippery slopes. Rain, snow, and ice also create dangerously slick stairs.
  • Worn Treads – Wood and stone stairs become highly polished over time, causing slips on smooth, angled treads.
  • Loosely Laid Carpets or Runners – Carpets and runners not tacked down properly lead to lethal trips or sliding down an entire flight of stairs.

Broken Components

Age, improper maintenance, and excessive use inevitably take a toll on staircases.

Some of the most common structural deficiencies are:

  • Cracked Steps – Splintered wooden stairs or cracked concrete steps become weak and unstable. Stepping on compromised edges often leads to falls.
  • Loose Handrails – When handrails pull away from walls or become detached, using them for support and balance can send you tumbling down stairs.
  • Missing Spindles or Balusters – Gaps between spindles or missing balusters represent fall hazards, especially for children and pets. Hands, feet, or even heads can become trapped in these openings.

Cluttered Stairs

Using staircases for storage often results in devastating falls in Illinois:

  • Items Left on Steps – Boxes, bags, toys, and other objects abandoned on stairs cause thousands of trips and falls each year.
  • Lack of Storage Space – Insufficient closet space or other storage areas forces many Illinois residents to use stairs as default holding areas, creating substantial risks.

 

What Happens if You Slip and Fall on Someone Else’s Property?

Under Illinois premises liability statutes, property owners are responsible for eliminating hazardous conditions like unsafe staircases to protect people legally visiting their property.

Required reasonable care includes:

  • Installing adequate lighting on all stairs and landings.
  • Covering slick surfaces with non-slip treatments.
  • Conducting consistent inspections for structural damage.
  • Promptly repairing all hazardous defects like broken rails or treads.
  • Keeping stairs clear of obstructions.

When property owners fail to address staircase dangers, anyone suffering severe injuries due to negligent conditions can pursue financial damages by filing premises liability claims.

How a Central Illinois Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

Trying to collect fair compensation after a life-altering stairway accident without legal guidance usually proves exceptionally challenging for several reasons.

Personal injury lawyers familiar with Illinois premises liability laws can assist in determining fault, calculating damages, negotiating reasonable settlements, and filing lawsuits when necessary.

The core services an attorney can deliver include:

  1. Assessing Liability – We determine which parties – i.e., homeowners, landlords, contractors, or property managers – acted negligently or intentionally, allowing hazardous stair defects or conditions to exist on their premises.
  2. Calculating Losses – Our premises liability lawyers tally both current and future costs of medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering due to injury.
  3. Negotiating Optimal Settlements – Rather than automatically accepting low insurance offers, our lawyers demand maximum accident compensation for clients.
  4. Taking Cases to Court – If lowballed, our dedicated lawyers vigorously argue and litigate premises liability cases in court, seeking full damages from property owners.

By leveraging premises liability experience, our personal injury attorneys can help injured persons secure necessary compensation to cover all their current and future needs.

Hold Property Owners Accountable While You Focus on Healing

Far too often, people think staircases are seemingly harmless spaces. But these areas sometimes represent catastrophic dangers in homes and public buildings across Illinois, resulting in thousands of emergency room visits yearly.

When hazardous staircases cause bodily harm, our experienced Illinois slip and fall lawyers are prepared to investigate the accident cause, prove negligence claims, and negotiate fair compensation for those struggling to recover financially and physically.

Discuss your legal options after suffering a serious staircase fall. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Author Bio

Josh Rohrscheib

Joshua Rohrscheib is the Owner of Onward Injury Law, a Central Illinois personal injury law firm. With more than 17 years of experience in injury law, he is dedicated to representing clients in a wide range of legal matters, including car accidents, trucking accidents, construction accidents, medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, and other personal injury cases.

Josh received his Juris Doctor from the University of Illinois College of Law and is a member of the Illinois State Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being named among the “Top 40 Under 40” in 2019 by The National Trial Lawyers and a “Rising Star” in 2019 by Super Lawyers.

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