American Association for Justice
Greater Lowell

Faulty Handrail Accidents

Massachusetts Premises Liability Attorneys

Stairs can be some of the most dangerous places in any residential or commercial building. Anyone who is taking care of a young child or elderly family member knows that this is true. Child gates are placed at the bottoms and tops of stairs to make sure that serious injuries don’t happen when babies and toddlers are around. At the same time, many families have to add ramps and chairlifts to houses to ensure safety of the elderly.

One aspect of stairs that often get overlooked is the handrail. Handrails are one of the most important safety mechanisms of any stairs. They allow all users the ability to maintain their balance at all times, preventing what are often catastrophic injuries. Often people misjudge the height of a stair, or even how many stairs there are. Other times, people simply lose their balance due to their footwear or the condition of the stairs. Handrails are meant to prevent these mistakes from turning into something more serious.

Handrail Requirements

In Massachusetts, there are many requirements on handrails.

  • Stair Handrail Height: Handrails must be placed between 34 and 38 inches. This allows for easy access when needed.
  • Wall Clearance: There must be a minimum of 1.5 inches between the handrail and the wall, as having too small of a clearance can make grasping difficult.
  • Handrail Length: Handrails must be continuous for hte full length of stairs, beginning directly above the bottom stair and ending directly above the top step.
  • Handrail Types: Handrails can either be circular or non-circular. Circular handrails must be between 1.25 and 2 inches, whereas Non-Circular handrails must be a max of 2 inches wide, unless it is a Recessed Handrails, which can be up to 2.75 inches at its widest point.
Massachusetts State Sanitary Code Requirements

Every landlord is required to provide a residence that meets the requirements of the State Sanitary Code for Human Habitation. While people often think that this deals with having heat, working appliances, and keeping bugs and rodents out, having handrails is required for every stairway that an occupant of a residence will use.

Handrails for Exterior Stairs

Handrail requirements extend to exterior steps on commercial and residential buildings. These handrails are especially important because people, including children and the elderly, may have to deal with rain, snow, and ice while climbing up or down a set of stairs. Poor conditions can lead to surfaces becoming slippery, making them more treacherous for all users.

These exterior stairs can often lead to entrance ways, decks, or other means of egress. They also might not be a full set of stairs that require a handrail. This will depend not only on how many stairs/treads that are in a stairway, but also how long the stairs have been in place.

Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys

At Marcotte Law Firm, we have decades of experience representing people who have tripped and fell on stairways. Many of these accidents could have been prevented if a safe handrail was in place. Whether your fall happened at a commercial property or at a rental unit, the owner was required to make the steps safe for your use.

If you’ve been injured after a fall on stairs due to the lack of a handrail, call the experienced Premises Liability Lawyers at Marcotte Law Firm for a free, no obligation consultation.

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