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The Multiple Residence Law, An Overlooked Tool In Stair Accident Cases

March 4, 2015

Inside New York City, personal injury attorneys are widely familiar with the Multiple Dwelling Law, which only applies to Cities which have one million people or more, which in New York state is only the City of New York. However, for accidents that occur because of unsafe stairs outside of New York City, the Multiple Residence Law applies and has similar protections as those in the Multiple Dwelling Law.

A violations of the Multiple Residence Law, establishes a prima facie case that the landowner was negligent per se. Under New York Law, the violation of a specific directive contained in a statute, such as the multiple dwelling law or multiple residence law constitutes negligence per se. Both the Multiple Dwelling Law and the Multiple Residence law impose upon an owner of a multi family building, a nondelegable duty to persons on its premises to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition.

The Multiple Dwelling Law specifies standards for multifamily dwellings in large cities, whereas, the Multiple Residence Law specifies standards multifamily dwellings in villages and towns, such as the Town of Sleepy Hollow. See M.R.L.3, § M.D.L. § 3. Both contain similar requirements for riser heights and for the necessity of a handrail on stairs. Compare, Multiple Dwelling Law § 52 and Multiple Residence Law § 132. Multiple Residence Law § 132 states in pertinent part that every exterior stair shall be provided with proper balustrades and handrails, that every such stair which is three feet eight inches or more in width shall be provided with a handrail on each side and that each riser shall not exceed seven and three-quarter inches in height. M.R.L. § 132. Multiple Dwelling Law § 52 states in pertinent part that the treads and risers of every stair in any multiple dwelling shall be of uniform height, that each riser shall not exceed seven and three-quarters inches in height and that every stair must have handrails and that stairs in excess of three feet, eight inches wide must have a handrail on each side. As such, the concrete regulations of both MRL § 132 and MDL § 52 are identical and provide for the same concrete statutory requirements as to stair riser heights and the existence of a handrail.

A Defendant is liable for an injury resulting from a violation of the Multiple Residence Law, even if they did not have notice of the condition. New York Courts have recognized that a violation of the sections of the Multiple Dwelling Law, which require specific stair riser heights and handrails, constitutes negligence per se.

Therefore, any Rockland or Westchester personal injury lawyer handling a fall down the stairs which involves either excessive riser heights, poor step geometry or a lack of a handrail should pay special attention to the Multiple Residence Law

The Law Offices of Michael H. Joseph