Ladders Are Dangerous

Many people are seriously injured when using ladders. “Every year 500,000 people are treated for ladder-related injuries and approximately 300 of these incidents prove to be fatal,” reports Industrial Safety & Hygiene News (ISHN). (1)

“Falls from ladders are the leading cause of ladder-related injuries,” according to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI). It adds, “Most ladder deaths are from falls of 10 feet or less.” (2)

NYC Ladder Accidents

Nowhere are ladders more widely used than in the construction industry, especially at construction sites located within cities like New York.

New York City (NYC) ladder accidents are worrisome, especially for construction workers. “Falls from ladders are the leading cause of deaths on construction sites,” says InterNACHI. (3)

Data for NYC construction related injuries and fatalities show in January 2021, alone, there were overall 18 fall related injuries. This comes on the heels of a total of 141 worker fall related injuries in 2020. This would include falls from ladders. (4)

Additionally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2019, indicate 26% of all fatal slips, trips, and falls among U.S. workers occurred in New York City. (5)

Causes of Accidents

The major ladder hazard is falling. While working on a ladder, it may shift due to a defect, uneven floor surface or some other reason. The ladder can tip over and you can end up falling a dozen or more feet down.

Yet, people can also be injured by objects falling from a ladder. This is especially true at city construction sites, where sidewalks run near the areas where workers are using ladders. Accidents can happen if the ladder malfunctions or if the worker misuses it.

A ladder accident can also set off a chain of events resulting in an injury. For example, when being moved, a ladder accidentally knocks over a bucket. The bucket can fall down several stories from a construction site and cause serious damage if it lands on you.

If you or someone you know suffered from a ladder accident, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact us today.

Get a Free Case Review

Types of Ladders

Ladders used at both construction sites and at home come in different types and sizes. Safety may depend upon the right tool being used for the job.

Among the different types of ladders, some of the most common are: (6)

  • Step: A self-supporting, nonadjustable length, hinged ladder.
  • Single: A non-self-supporting, nonadjustable length, single section ladder.
  • Extension: A non-self-supporting, adjustable length ladder with two or more sections.
  • Articulated: A ladder with one or more pairs of articulated joints, allowing for setup in different configurations.
  • Tripod: A ladder with one leg opposite the rungs.
  • Trestle: A “combination of a step ladder with a single extension ladder that can be raised through the top.” (7)
  • Telescoping: This ladder “uses a pin system to ‘telescope’ into variable lengths.” (8)

Ladder Accident Injuries

No matter the type or size of ladder, falls from ladders can do serious harm. Injuries can range from scrapes and scratches to head trauma or even death.

Serious ladder accident injuries include the following:

  • Death — National data for work-related fatalities due to falls over a 5-year period indicate “the most common sources in these cases were ladders (836 fatal injuries).” (9)
  • Broken bones and fractures — One study found fractures occurred in 36% of fall patients reporting to a community emergency room, 77% of those fall patients had injuries involving an extremity. “There was no relationship between the distance fallen and the occurrence of fracture.” (10)
  • Spinal injury — These injuries often result in paralysis. In one study researchers conclude, “Associated injury and vertebral injury occurred frequently among falls from buildings and ladders. High falls were more likely to be work-related and result in thoracic and complete injury, while low falls were more commonly associated with cervical and motor functionally incomplete injury.” (11)
  • Traumatic brain injury — Your brain function can also be damaged. “Falls from ladders were the most frequent ‘Do-It-Yourself’ injury… with nearly 1 in 10 resulting in an ‘intracranial injury such as a concussion’,” according to one government research study. (12)

Understanding what leads to falls can reduce the risks of serious injuries.

Factors Associated with Fall Risks

Identifying the factors associated with fall risks may help prevent those risks. Some factors are: (13)

  • Improper setup — Ladders on an uneven or unstable surface can tip or fall over. Ladders placed in front of unlocked or unblocked doors also present hazards.
  • Loss of balance — Windy conditions or loads exceeding the ladder’s maximum rating can be dangerous.
  • Rungs issues — Ladder rungs not properly spaced or supportive can lead to injuries.
  • Overreaching — Work requiring leaning or stretching on a ladder can be dangerous.

Risks from Defective Ladders

The condition of a ladder should be taken into consideration before using it. When ladders have been exposed to fire or strong chemicals they may suffer damage or corrosion and it “cannot be detected during use.” (14)

At times, ladders may be unsafe due to flaws in their design, or defects in their production. They may not actually be able to handle the weight limit indicated. Or the steps may not be bolted correctly to the frame. (15)

When flaws or defects in a ladder lead to serious injuries or death, the manufacturer of the ladder and the store selling it can be held accountable.

They can also be held accountable if the instructions provided to use the ladder were incorrect. If so, any person might be unable to use the ladder safely,

If you have suffered a ladder accident, contact us today to understand your legal options.

Get a Free Case Review


In most states, successful product liability claims mean the plaintiff (you, the person suing) has shown the court one of three things:

  • The design defects in a product were “inherent”; they existed before the ladder was manufactured. There was a flaw in the design itself. (16)
  • Manufacturing defects occurred while the ladder was being made. (17)
  • Defects in marketing happened. There were errors in the instructions provided with the ladder or there was a failure to warn customers of potential dangers with the ladder. (18)

How W&L Can Help

These cases can be very complex. An experienced attorney can help clients navigate the legal system, build and present a strong case in court, and negotiate settlements.

For 30 plus years, W&L has successfully represented clients in product liability cases. Our team of attorneys are experienced in a wide range of liability injuries.

Here are just a few of our successes:

  • Verdict of $2.96 million — Our client, who was from Ecuador and spoke no English, lost part of his leg. This was due to a negligent co-worker’s driving of a hi-lo. Additionally, the company involved had designed the work area with inadequate barriers.
  • Multimillion-dollar settlement — Our client suffered a traumatic brain injury after a 25-foot-fall from a second story walkway of an apartment building. There was no parapet or fencing along the outer edge of the walkway.
  • Recovered $10 million — Our client, a 15-year-old boy, lost his sight in one eye due to a bungee cord accident. The boy was struck by a broken bungee cord acting as a brake system for a zip line he was waiting to ride on.