When Ramps Turn Risky

The Hidden Dangers of Wheelchair Ramps

Ramps are more than just inclined planes: these devices make the world a more accessible place for all. New legislation promoting accessibility, like the Americans with Disabilities Act, is paving the way for ramps to become more commonplace in our society. Ramps are now required for all new public construction projects in the United States.

This is a great start to making previously inaccessible spaces easy and safe to get to for those using wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, or strollers. However, improperly designed or maintained ramps can become exceedingly dangerous.

At our law firm, we have handled numerous cases involving defective and dangerous ramps that have caused serious injuries. We've put together some common hidden dangers of ramps we've encountered in real-life situations.

1. Ramps that are too steep

steep ramp

A steep ramp increases the likelihood of tipping backwards and also requires more energy to climb—ramps like this pose a great danger to anyone who uses them. Slope, or the degree of incline of a ramp, plays a crucial role in its design and usefulness.

Building codes require that newly constructed ramps have a minimum slope of 1:12. This means that if a ramp is designed to rise 1 foot in height, it should be 12 feet long. Older ramps that were not updated to meet modern building codes may be steeper than 1:12 and can cause serious falls.

2. Ramps without handrails

ramp without handrails

Generally, any ramp over 6 feet in length is required to have a handrail. Ramps that were built for private construction projects or for residential use may not always subscribe to this building code. Outdoor ramps lacking handrails in cold-weather climates are especially problematic.

It's important to remember that a ramp can become slick and dangerous after just a slight dusting of snow. Without a handrail, ramp users will not have anywhere to catch themselves if they begin to fall.

3. Wooden ramps

wooden ramp

It is very difficult to maintain a safe ramp if it is made out of wood. Wooden ramps pose risks in multiple ways:

  • Wood, unlike steel or concrete, can rot over time and may be at risk for caving in.
  • Wood holds moisture and can become extremely slippery after a rainfall if the ramp is located outdoors.
  • Wooden ramps need to be coated in a slip-resistant paint or other coating to add traction. Some ramps are not well maintained and are left untreated and dangerously slippery.

Were You Injured on Someone Else's Property?

If you or a loved one slipped and fell or injured yourself on someone else's property, another company or person may have neglected to keep their property safe, and you could have a premises liability case. The issue of premises liability can seem a bit confusing, but don't continue to worry. Let our law firm answer your questions and help you understand your legal rights. At Edgar Snyder & Associates we've handled numerous premises liability cases.

It all starts with a no obligation, free legal consultation. You tell us about your injuries, and we'll tell you if we think you have a case. It's as simple as that. Call us today at 1-866-943-3427, or easily submit your information online.

Sources: “ANSI A117.1 American National Standard for buildings and facilities.” 1986“2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design.” Americans with Disabilities Act. 2010.“The BOCA National Building Code.” Building Officials and Code Administrators International. 1990.

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